Review: AB Commander

Posted June 4th, 2007 by kyle

The built-in Explorer application in Windows is rather wimpy, and every power user soon looks for a decent replacement. I looked at dozens of alternatives before settling on AB Commander, a dual-pane Explorer replacement.

AB Commander’s dual-pane view suits me well, since I often need to deal with two folders at a time, but rarely more than that. In contrast to Explorer, AB Commander is very keyboard friendly, providing shortcuts for almost every activity (although the shortcuts are not customizable). No matter where you are, navigating is very quick:

  • Enter navigates into a folder
  • Backspace navigates back a level; Alt+Backspace navigates to the root of the current drive
  • For every folder that is visited, it remembers and reselects the subfolder that was previously selected
  • Alt+Left and Right Arrow go forward and back in the navigation history
  • Ctrl+D, letter navigates to a given drive
  • Alt+D or Ctrl+J can be used to navigate directly to a folder (and provides a drop-down list of recently accessed folders)
  • Ctrl+G displays a list of common and recent folders for navigating directly to
  • Ctrl+H displays the history of recently accessed folders
  • Ctrl+O shows a list of favorite folders
    AB Commander does a good job of leveraging the existing Windows shell rendering and navigation capabilities while adding lots of functionality that is missing from Explorer itself. It can also completely replace Explorer for most shell integration (display virtual folders, take over Windows+E shortcut and association with folders, show regular Explorer context menu, etc.). Some of the additional features I use frequently include filtering, favorites, history, quick editing, and drive and new folder shortcuts.

    AB Commander has been very stable for me on Windows XP, the latest release supports Windows Vista, and an x64 edition is also available. If you’re looking for a Windows Explorer replacement, AB Commander should be on your list to evaluate.

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  • 6 Comments on “Review: AB Commander”

    1. jau Says:

      Consider TotalCommander. For me and few person who are very productive it works superb. It is the one single most time saving program I know. It does have also a lot of plugins and is actively developed.

    2. Stephen Barnes Says:

      If only UR would assimilate some of the functionality of a program such as this then UR would be marvellous. Why can’t we have thumbnail views in UR so that I don’t have to keep all my photos and graphically orientated files OUTSIDE of UR in order to be able to select them visually?

      What is needed is a cross between UR and Windows Explorer and THEN we would have a really useful piece of software…

    3. kyle Says:

      1) In UR, add ;*folder to ‘Tools | Options | Browser | File extensions to display in internal browser view’ and set Explorer view mode to ‘Thumbnails’.

      2) Import your main pictures folder linked (not stored); sync the folder whenever more pictures are added.

      3) Click on a folder in UR to view thumbnails in the detail pane; click on an individual picture to view in the UR image viewer.

      4) Utilize additional UR features as desired (for instance, logically link pictures elsewhere to organize, add user-defined keywords, flags, attributes, favorites, etc.).

    4. Jonathan Says:

      My preferred app for this sort of functionality is Directory Opus. Fantastic app, with a good community of people creating plugins and the like to add new features.
      Check it out if you have not already.

    5. Chris Says:

      I agree with Jonathan for my money, you can’t beat Directory Opus.

    6. Leib Moscovitz Says:

      If you’re interested in a free alternative which provides dual pane file management and a slew of keyboard shortcuts, you might want to look into Nexus file manager (see