Stupid Geek Tricks: Using 7-Zip as a Blazing Fast File Browser

By Lowell Heddings on March 24th, 2009

One of the most irritating things in Windows is the file browsing experience… it’s slow, buggy, and never wants to stay in “Details” mode. If you are already using the awesome 7-Zip utility, you have a powerful alternative file manager at your disposal.

In case you’re wondering, 7-Zip is our file archiving utility of choice around here. It’s awesome.

Using 7-Zip File Manager

You can quickly find the 7-Zip File Manager under the start menu by just typing “7” into the search box.

Open 7-Zip 

The default view is a simple details view, that doesn’t go out of whack every time you browse into another folder. It just works. You can even browse down into any archive (zip, rar, iso, etc) file as if it was a folder.

7-Zip Default View

Using the View menu, you can enable a dual pane mode, so you can drag/drop files back and forth between the panes.

7-Zip Dual Pane 

For quickly accessing folders, you can setup Favorites that even have hotkeys associated to them… makes finding that deeply nested folder a breeze.

7-Zip Favorites

Inside the options panel are a couple of really useful options that aren’t enabled by default: You can show the real file icons the same way Explorer does, enable the regular explorer system menu, and set full row selection.

7-Zip Settings

Ever browse to a folder, but then forget which one it was? Using the Alt+F12 shortcut key (or through the View menu) you can bring up the Folders History dialog, which saves everywhere that you browsed. Very useful!

7-Zip History 

The context menu for files already has powerful capabilities embedded… we already have a hack to add the Copy To / Move To options to Explorer, but it’s something that should just be there in the first place.

image

You’ll notice in the screenshot that there’s also a very useful option to create a new folder with a hotkey… something you can only do in Explorer with a plugin.

Create a Shortcut to Open a Specific Folder in 7-Zip

You can also setup an icon to open up 7-Zip already set to a specific folder. Just right-click anywhere and choose New \ Shortcut from the menu.

New Shortcut 

Use the Browse button to navigate down to the following path (adjusting if you installed elsewhere).

“C:\Program Files\7-Zip\7zFM.exe”

Create Shortcut

Make sure to include the full path in quotes, and then pass in the path that you want to open as a parameter (with a space between). In the example above, the shortcut will open the C:\ folder.

Now you should have an icon that will open 7-Zip directly to the C: drive.

7-Zip Icon

It’s simple, easy, and useful… it’s a Stupid Geek Trick. Got any tricks of your own? Share them in the comments.

Download 7-Zip from z-zip.org

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/24/09
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