A file manager or file browser is a computer program that provides a user interface to manage files and folders. The most common operations performed on files or groups of files include creating, opening (e.g. viewing, playing, editing or printing), renaming,moving or copying, deleting and searching for files, as well as modifying file attributes, properties and file permissions. Folders and files may be displayed in a hierarchical treebased on their directory structure. Some file managers contain features inspired by web browsers, including forward and back navigational buttons.
Some file managers provide network connectivity via protocols, such as FTP, NFS, SMBor WebDAV. This is achieved by allowing the user to browse for a file server (connecting and accessing the server's file system like a local file system) or by providing its own full client implementations for file server protocols.
A navigational file manager, also called an "Explorer" type manager, is a newer type of file manager which became prominent because of its integration in Microsoft Windows. The Windows Explorer is a classic representative of the type, using a "navigational" metaphor to represent filesystem locations. Since the advent of GUIs, it has become the dominant type of file manager for desktop computers, due to its use in the Microsoft Windows operating system.
Typically, it has two panes, with the filesystem tree in the left pane and the contents of the current directory in the right pane. For Mac OS X, one view in the Finder is an example of a navigational file manager.
- The window displays the location currently being viewed.
- The location being viewed (the current directory) can be changed by the user by opening directories, pressing a back button, typing a location, or using the additional pane with the navigation tree representing all or part of the filesystem.
- Icons represent files, programs, and directories.
The interface in a navigational file manager often resembles a web browser, complete with back and forward buttons, and often reload buttons. Most also contain an address bar into which the file or directory path (or URI) can be typed.
Most navigational file managers have two panes, the left pane being a tree view of the filesystem. This means that unlike orthodox file managers, the two panes are asymmetrical in their content and use.
Selecting a directory in the Navigation pane on the left designates it as the current directory, displaying its contents in the Contents pane on the right. However, expanding (+) or collapsing (-) a portion of the tree without selecting a directory will not alter the contents of the right pane. The exception to this behavior applies when collapsing a parent of the current directory, in which case the selection is refocused on the collapsed parent directory, thus altering the list in the Contents pane.
The process of moving from one location to another need not open a new window. Several instances of the file manager can be opened simultaneously and communicate with each other via drag-and-drop and clipboard operations, so it is possible to view several directories simultaneously and perform cut-and paste operations between instances.
File operations are based on drag-and-drop and editor metaphors: users can select and copy files or directories onto the clipboard and then paste them in a different place in the filesystem or even in a different instance of the file manager.
Notable examples of navigational file managers include:
- File Manager in Windows
- Windows Explorer
- Mac OS X Finder
- Dolphin in KDE
- Nautilus in GNOME (default since v2.30)
- Directory Opus
- XTree / ZTreeWin
see more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_manager