The average Windows user would probably never consider using a file manager other than the one built into the operating system — Windows Explorer. But, if you aren't an average Windows users and like to optimise, customise your computers read below.
This is a full-featured, yet lightweight file manager. This tool has features such as tabbed exploring, bookmark files and folders, search filters, a built-in text editor, file preview, transparency levels for different programs, themes, shortcut key support, breadcrumb navigation, session saving and much more. CubicExplorer is divided into three panels: the Main navigation window, the Navigation tree and the Filter/Preview/Dropstack panel. Now, the first two panels should be familiar to most Windows users and work as you'd expect them to. The Dropstack panel, however, is unique. It lets you drag and drop files or folders into groups for temporary quick access
Explorer++ offers Tabbed browsing, real-time file previews, keyboard shortcuts, a customisable user interface, full drag-and-drop support and advanced file operations. This file manager is completely self contained means put it on a flash drive, and you'll have it for using on your machine or on any machine you're working with.
Xplorer² comes in both free and paid versions. The free (or Lite) version doesn't have the full version's Advanced Search capabilities or come with Customer Support, but you can browse the entire shell namespace, preview documents, pictures, music files and videos, filter files and folders using wildcards, and even synchronise folders.
This explorer alternative brings a bit of style to Windows. It is skinnable and also offers tabbed browsing, built-in FTP, built-in archive, advanced rename, Split and Join File support, and more. This is probably one of the most powerful Windows file managers out there, but its interface may not be as user friendly when compared with other file managers listed here.
Q-Dir, can be installed or used as a portable app from a flash drive. Its features are preview filters, drag and drop support, a screen magnifier, export files in XLS, CVS, TST and HTML formats. Q-Dir's unique feature is the amount of interface control it provides.