Microsoft Windows File Manager

The Microsoft Windows File Manager is the graphical user interface (GUI) through which end users could see and manipulate files and folders on early-version Windows computers.

In actual practice, the File Manager proved to be a powerful and intuitive move away from traditional DOS command-line interface (CLI). Users could view the computer's directory structure in a left window, while the file and sub-folder contents of the selected directory would appear in the right window.

End users could then move, copy, rename, print, delete and search files and folders. Users could also define the attributes (the permissions) for files and folders such as read-only, system, hidden or archive, and make associations between files and applications. Windows File Manager also allowed users to format disks and manage network file sharing.

Filename formation proved to be a major limitation of Windows File Manager, which supported only traditional DOS-type 8.3 filenames. Extended filenames (names longer than 8 characters and supporting spaces) displayed in File Manager would simply appear truncated with a tilde and a number in the last two spaces. For example, a filename like "Original_computer.doc" would appear in File Manager such as "Origin~1.doc". Later file managers would support extended filenames.

Windows File Manager (the WINFILE.EXE utility) was included with Windows versions prior to Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, but is no longer in service. The file management function in Windows 95/NT 4.0 and later versions was replaced with the Windows Explorer interface accessible through the My Computer icon.

Contributor(s): Stephen Bigelow
This was last updated in July 2013
Posted by: Margaret Rouse
View the next item in this Essential Guide: Microsoft Windows Task Manager or view the full guide: Windows 7 guide: Before, during and after migration

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