Throwback alert! Microsoft’s vintage File Manager program, which originally shipped with Windows 3.0 in 1990, has been ported to Windows 10, and it’s available for free from Microsoft. Here’s how to get it.

Managing Files Before File Explorer

In versions of Windows earlier than Windows 95, you needed to use a special application to copy, move, and delete files within Windows itself. In Windows 3.x, this application was called File Manager.

File Manager running in Windows 3.0
File Manager running in Windows 3.0 (1990). ToastyTech

Even after Windows 95 integrated file-managing functions directly into the Windows shell—creating Windows Explorer—some die-hard fans still used File Manager because they preferred its concise, tree-based interface.

Some of those File Explorer fans are still out there today, and three years ago, one of them took Microsoft’s open-source release of the original Windows 3.x code and turned it into a modern version of File Manager for Windows 10.

File Manager running in Windows 10
The modern version of File Manager running in Windows 10.

The interface for the modern File Manager is basically the same as the old version. You can sort files with toolbar buttons, manage drives and directories in multiple sub-windows, and even format disks—but this time, it supports 64-bit Windows, long file names, and other modern conveniences.

How to Get the Classic Windows File Manager

File Manager in the Windows Store

Microsoft maintains File Manager as an open-source project under the MIT License on GitHub. You can download it on GitHub as a ready-to-run EXE file (Winfile.exe), and it’s even available for free in the Microsoft Store.

It’s all the fun of Windows 3.0 file management without the baggage of MS-DOS. Just run it, and you’ll think it’s 1990 all over again—even if you weren’t there the first time. Have fun!

RELATED: Windows 3.0 Is 30 Years Old: Here's What Made It Special

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Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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