File manager

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A file manager ( english File Manager ) is a computer program for managing content on file systems that focus on different storage media can be located. In addition to the clear presentation in the form of (often graphical) user interface include the listing, renaming and moving, copying and deleting of files and directories to basic functions. It is also common to edit metadata of supported file systems, such as file attributes , file permissions, and links .


Unlike in the server -Umfeld where some still text-based shells are to be found, was built on personal computers early on a graphical user interface ( English graphical user interface , or "GUI"), in which the task of file management took a special program: the File manager. In the early 1980s you can find simple file managers on the Xerox Star or the Apple Lisa . Because these systems were expensive for the time, they did not catch on. Only in the mid-1990s did the file manager appear as part of the standard repertoire of almost all desktop operating systems. Until then there were some mostly text-based file managers for the most popular operating systems, such as Norton Commander under DOS .

A file manager is always included in current operating systems for PCs and notebooks . There is also a large number of third-party file managers for all common operating systems, which are usually superior to the included file manager in some respects.

In addition to PCs, they can also be found on PDAs , embedded systems (such as routers or firewalls ), satellite receivers and smartphones , although they usually have to be installed on many of these systems. The reason for this is on the one hand computer security , on the other hand the manufacturer of such a device often does not want a user to work directly on the file system.


There are several (presentation) concepts of file managers that use different metaphors for their presentation. Some programs also support several concepts:

  • Navigational file managers display the contents of any directory in a switchable window, with an overview of the directory structure and its file contents, such as a tree view next to the directory view, being possible. Well-known examples are Windows Explorer and Nautilus .
  • File managers based on the model of PathMinder with a two-column view ( English orthodox file manager ) display the contents of two directories opposite one another . The Norton Commander is the best-known representative of the two-column view.
  • With the spatial concept ( Spatial ), a new window is created for each open folder, which is intended to correspond to the handling of physical objects. A single window is permanently assigned to a specific directory and vice versa.
  • NeXTStep 's Workspace Manager and the Finder of macOS as well as some other file managers such as ranger or One Commander use the Miller columns, a representation in which the folder structure is displayed horizontally instead of vertically.

Individual evidence

  1. Nikolai Bezkourov: Less is More: A rich functionality behind Spartan interface of Orthodox File Managers: The history of the term. November 2012, accessed July 7, 2014 .
  2. ^ One Commander. Retrieved July 7, 2014 .