Total Commander [software worth buying]

total_commander_icon I had witnessed more than once backlash and fallout, following posts about shareware on the freeware blogs. Naturally it just irked me to try that myself some time. :)

I had tried actively to find adequate freeware replacement for Total Commander file manager and more than once reviewed soft from this category. But I can only conclude that this is an area where freeware clearly doesn’t cut it.

What it does

Total Commander (previously Windows Commander) is classic dual-pane file manager, actively developed and maintained for over fifteen (!) years.

Code base is purposely kept on old version of Delphi for high performance of application (sounds weird but works).


It may look bit plain but it is seriously powerful software.

Strong features

Performance aside Total Commander tries to do things as efficiently as possible and offers many ways to add functionality, not provided natively.

Interface is very flexible looks, toolbars, system menu and file presentation can all be customized.

Number of useful functions, that are usually extras, are integrated and included out of the box:

  • quick viewer;
  • file comparison;
  • file split and join;
  • queued copy/move;
  • hash/checksum generation and confirmation;
  • folder comparison and synchronization;
  • FTP support.

Total Commander works with archive files (including nested) like with regular folders. It provides native unpack capabilities for multiply common formats and native pack for ZIP. Both pack and unpack can be greatly extended with help of plugins to support anything from mainstream formats like RAR and 7-Zip to specialized packages, used in some games.

Just like with archive software it can integrate external viewers such as Universal Viewer and IrfanView.

Plugin system in Total Commander is so extensive that over that many years there was myriad of plugins to do anything and everything written. Not many of those are official and properly maintained, but vast selection makes up for that.

App can be installed or converted in portable mode and supports relative paths nicely so extras work that way as well.


What it can’t do it can be extended to do. There is nothing to gripe about in Total Commander that can’t be changed, fixed or stuffed with plugin.

The only thing that really came short for me was how it works with secure file transfers. Because of legislation on software and encryption in developer’s country he can only provide frame plugin for third party library. This mishmash is unfortunately performs poorly and I had to change to WinSCP for such operations.

Trial version limitations

Trial version is fully functional. After thirty days it starts to show nag screen at startup, but full functionality is preserved.

Developer had said in several interviews over years that he considers active protection unnecessary and it’s better for users to get full experience as long as they need so they can pay up when they want and have means to.


At the very least give it a try (fully functional time-unlimited trial, no strings attached).

For people that missed years when dual-pane file managers where established it might be very different file managing experience. But believe me – paradigms of files epoch work with files much better that paradigms from epoch of icons.

Home http://www.ghisler.com/

Download http://www.ghisler.com/download.htm

Plugins directory http://www.totalcmd.net/

Related Posts


  • Marius #

    I can add few more features: - multi rename - internal associations (very nice when you use TC as a portable app) - queue for copy/move file. Over all in my opinion this is the best file manager.
  • kelltic #

    I agree that freeware is not always the best answer and I appreciate your braving the storm to do a writeup on this program. I hope to see similar articles on occasion. I tried this - and every similar program I could find - back when I was looking for something to replace Windows Explorer. I did like Total Commander but, in the end, I purchased Xplorer2. Probably not one of my better decisions and the functions, available in the pro version that prompted me to upgrade from the freebie, turned out to be too cumbersome to bother with and didn't work all the time. Another one I liked was XYplorer - for its speediness. Funny thing is, once I installed Search GT, I went back to using Windows Explorer. I think Total Commander was a little beyond my comprehension and I was too impatient to learn how to use it. Looking at the pic here I remember I didn't like the heavy bold text. Well, I'm a little (very little) wiser now and when I'm ready to purchase another such program, it will be this one. Gotta love the developer's attitude. Makes me want to pay up right now.
  • Rarst #

    @Marius Thanks, I know those features but forgot to include in post. Hadn't used multi rename lately, but own associations is awesome for portable. btw file queues are listed in post. :) @kelltic I stick with defaults for those, but fonts and colors are very customizable. In case of Total Commander you can take your time and evaluate all functions properly before purchase. Excellent policy indeed. I consider Windows Explorer absolutely unusable as file manager. It is poor attempt to dumb down file managing, haunted by performance and usability issues as far as I can remember.
  • Marius #

    @Rarst My bad, sry ;). @kelltic XYplorer have very interesting approach with internal script engine, but misses another few features. About Xplorer2, well I liked more his predecessor 2xExplorer.
  • OAlexander #

    As I said: Rolls Royce file manager = Directory Opus. Price = also Rolls Royce. And yes, as you say, it is "about twice the price of Total Commander? It sure is expensive. Well, if it is still afloat then worth it to some people." Besides an immense lot of features it offers next to complete configurability, which means, it works practically exactly as a file manager would work if I had designed it from scratch to exactly my liking. This includes, that I can replace icons if I don't like the suggested one - an each icon can have a left, right and middle click functionality. So you can cram a lot of functionality into little space. If it happens to have a bug, I post it in the forum and I can be reasonably sure that it is fixed inside the next couple of minor updates. For me it took a while to configure it, killing of some garish colours, etc., but this is a "once in a lifetime" job, and the configuration is easily transferable, including to USB, from where it also works effortlessly. For a long time I used "PowerDesk Explorer", which I liked a lot, but they never removed what for me was a major bug. I also liked xlplorer² for a while, because it was cute, but in the end it was a romance that never really worked out and I never elevated it to Explorer replacement. Of the rest, I don't know what I have not tried - Even ZTree, a character based (means MS-Dos mode) file manager, created with the fabulous XTree of the MS-Dos days in mind; then you were either a Norton Commander or an Xtree person ;). For me the file manager is the most important tool on the computer, and I almost always have it open. The only other tool I need here is "Everything" (http://www.voidtools.com/), which I think you recommended a while ago, and which became quickly indispensable for me. No quicker way to find a file by name - no matter where on the computer.
  • Rarst #

    @OAlexander I like tweaking, but definitely not too much tweaking - that burns me out. I think Total Commander is nice balance of defaults you can use out of the box, but can deeply customize for yourself as well. I've spent DOS times mostly on Volkov Commander and later on Dos Navigator. Later was seriously more advanced than all of competition. Everything rocks for search indeed. It's a rare case for app to do something so simple in so awesome way.
  • Delete too long paths (folder trees) with robocopy | Rarst.net #

    [...] I was unable to delete.After few attempts and tools like Unlocker failed (sadly I had no access to Total Commander at moment) I tried to simply browse those folders and umpteenth levels deeper I got message that [...]
  • Dicas Sobre Backup | KTecNet #

    [...] exemplo, eu lembrei que uma copia do Total Commander no disco rígido externo tem algumas senhas de servidores FTP [...]
  • Terry Dactyl #

    @OAlexander - I still use Norton Commander, works OK in Vista although there are odd things it's no longer so good at (it can't total bytes anymore as the range nowadays far outstrips its coding). @Rarst - Confession though, I am trying out TC and find it more flexible than NC and can be setup to look just like it. It's very good and seems to have very few bugs. Lot more assets than NC too. 'Cept never got multi-rename to work but against that, I love the ability to code up your own short cut keys. Over the years (since the advent of 2K and NT) I've tried many explorer replacements but, aside from NC, TC is the only one I've got on with. I recommend it!
  • Rarst #

    @Terry Dactyl Yep, TC is usually in line with tastes of people who started herding files in NC times. :) I didn't go recoloring it to NC (not really a fan of those colors), instead I recently recolored it into Solarized colors with some plugins on top and it worked great.