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Win 3.1/WFWG 3.11 Graphical File Manager?

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#1 mac57mac57



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Posted 10 February 2022 - 05:17 PM

Hi All, I am looking for something very elusive. Maybe you know of something that meets the need?


Essentially, I would like to find something like Windows 95's Explorer, but for Win 3.1 / WFWG 3.11 - a graphical, folder-based file management tool; not a desktop, but rather a program that I can run from the existing Windows desktop. This program would support all the usual file manager stuff - create, delete, modify, copy, move, etc. I specifically am not looking for the "commander" style interface, which presents files and directories in a one per row fashion, with a small icon included in each row, but rather a Windows 95 Explorer-like interface, where there is just a window (or windows) full of large file and folder icons that can be operated upon with the mouse. 


Because I am looking for a file manager program, not a full desktop replacement, things like Silver Wolf Desktop and Calmira don't meet the need, even though both present exactly the sort of file management interface I am seeking. Regrettably, it doesn't seem to be possible to extract out just the file management piece and run it by itself outside of the associated desktop - it is an "all or nothing" proposition... I think. I would love it if I was wrong on this and someone could identify how to isolate out either's file management interface and use it independently of the rest of the package.


Anyway... if anyone knows of a good graphical, folder-based file manager for Win 3.1 or WFWG 3.11, I would be grateful if you would reply back.



#2 Blackcrack


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Posted 11 February 2022 - 09:36 AM



take a look :






there is also some Software :



what did you found..? we need not found the double..

you could give a listing of you founds here...


best regards


#3 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 12 February 2022 - 06:25 PM

I think the described program actually exists, but it is for later Windows versions only, the following is JFYI.


Dimension File Manager:






via Wayback Machine:



Direct from tinyapps (password protected, read here: https://tinyapps.org/faq.html):



There was a (never finished/finalized and now additionally unavailable anymore) attempt to make File Cabinet (think of it as a ancestor of Win95 Explorer):



Generally speaking the Explorer in WIn95 was actually "new", so I don't think that anyone ever tried "backporting" those looks/design to Win3.x, all the file managers for Win3.x mimic - more or less - either File Manager or Norton Commander.




#4 mac57mac57



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Posted 14 February 2022 - 08:01 PM

Thanks all, I have methodically tracked down all leads, and then some.


Calmira remains the most promising. It contains a Windows 3.1 executable called Explorer.exe, and when run from within Calmira, it is exactly what I am looking for. Alas, it will not run outside of Calmira, which is a real shame. Does anyone know any tricks to get Calmira executables to run outside of Calmira?  ... or at least without making Calmira the default shell for Windows?


Windows Commander sounded hopeful, but after a bit of digging it quickly became apparent that it is simply the predecessor to Total Commander, which I already have. Total Commander is very good, but it uses a Commander style, two pane, line oriented GUI approach, vs. the icon based approach that Explorer and other later file managers use.


I DID find one very promising program: Visual File Manger, by Tuesday Software, 1994 (so written while Win31 was in its heydey). Visual File Manager, or VISUFILE.EXE, does a really credible job of creating a Macintosh Finder looking desktop, and it does not insist on being the shell to do this. You can just execute it directly, and the "desktop" can be resized to be a window of any size you like.


Visual File Manager has two major drawbacks that I have found so far:


(1) It is a little TOO faithful to the Macintosh System 7 GUI model. Icons representing files and folders are not presented in any discernible order and cannot be "arranged" to be in alphabetic, size or other order. There are "Arrange By" sort of settings, but if you select any of them, it drops back to a line oriented approach, dispensing with the icon representation that System 7 Finder used. Like Finder, if you want your icons in any given order, you have to manually drag them into that order yourself. This is OK for smaller folders, but it is a non-starter for larger ones.


Given the apparently random order of icon presentation, I guessed that it was simply presenting directory contents as it read them from the directory itself, so I used Nortel Directory Sort to actually sort my directories into alphabetic order, thinking that this would cause Visual File Manager to read them in that order. No such luck! The presentation didn't change - it was still apparently random. I also confirmed that it is not presenting by date, or by size, and of course not by name. It is using some order I am sure - I just can't deduce what it is!


(2) It seems to support associating file types with programs but the list of programs it presents when you try to associate something doesn't make any sense to me, and often does not include the program I want to associate the file type with! It has an "advanced" dialog, but this drops you into the Windows 3.1 registry, which is a foreign country to me!


Despite the above, I keep tinkering with it - it is SO close...


You can get Visual File Manager as VISFL115.ZIP at http://files.mpoli.f...n16/utils/misc/

Edited by mac57mac57, 14 February 2022 - 08:05 PM.

#5 ispy


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Posted 16 February 2022 - 02:52 PM

Hi Mac57Mac57 :D


Here's another candidate that I will just casually toss into the cement mixer if I may & why because it has been taken over by a new maintainer of the project & is under newish development management, (well relatively speaking 2003, that is) how long for is anybodies guess but irrespective of my reservations here it is:


It is called Seal obtained from an sourceforge link see here http://sealsystem.so...e.net/index.phpit has a forum also here


http://sealsystem.so...hpBB2/index.php (The forum seems somewhat active last entry date Mon Oct 18, 2021)


May or may not be of use


Best Regards,



#6 mac57mac57



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Posted 16 February 2022 - 03:42 PM

@iSpy, thanks for this! I had been peripherally aware of Seal, but I thought that it was an entirely separate operating system, not a GUI that could be run on top of DOS. I will absolutely give it a whirl and report back. Thanks again.

#7 mac57mac57



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Posted 16 February 2022 - 07:19 PM

Hi All, for those that may be interested, I have finally "cracked the code" on how Visual File Manager (VFM) sorts the icons it presents in its icon view of folders. My initial hunch was correct - it simply presents them in the unsorted order that it receives them in from Windows as it reads the contents of a directory. The thing I had missed is that it then writes that order into a hidden file in each directory, allowing it to remember where every icon was positioned. This is because, like Macintosh System 7 Finder, it allows you to drag the icons into any order you like and will faithfully present them to you in that order forever after. This all courtesy of the magic of this per directory hidden file, named "___icons.vfm".


To verify that this was correct, I used 4DOS' recursive "GLOBAL" command to delete the file  "___icons.vfm" from every directory and subdirectory on my hard drive. Then I used Norton Utilities "DS" command to recursively sort every directory and subdirectory into alphabetic order. THEN I restarted Windows and fired up VFM. Sure enough, the icons were presented in alphabetic order, which for me at least, is the desired result. 


Visual File Manager may therefore be the answer I was looking for when I started this thread. I still have to "crack the code" on how it associates applications to file types, but I will work that out over time, I am sure. A practical side effect of all of this is that I will need to perform the GLOBAL and DS commands from DOS on a routine basis, to keep VFM's icon presentation in alphabetic order, but I can live with that.


So, if you are looking for a graphical, icon-based file manager, not unlike Macintosh System 7's Finder, Visual File Manager may be the tool for you. Per my earlier post, you can get it at http://files.mpoli.f...n16/utils/misc/ as VISFL115.ZIP.

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