Navigate and manage files using up to 10 columns
Version 8.0.7, released on 19.03.2008, size 1.2 MB. It works on Windows XP / Vista.
To run the program, unzip the downloaded file where you want, and run the executable file.
FileMatrix has been tested on hard-disks (multiple disks, multiple partitions, multiple file-systems), floppy-disks, CDs / DVDs, CD partitions created by CD emulators, virtual encrypted partitions.
Download the associated PAD (Portable Application Description) file.
FileMatrix is a multi-dimensional file manager which gives you the ability to navigate, organize and manage files effectively.
The FileMatrix name comes from the fact that files are organized like a 3 dimensional matrix of files (files in a column, columns in a board, boards in the program).
This matrix gives you the power to quickly organize in groups the directories in which you navigate often, particularly by putting several directories side by side, and let's you access later each group with just a click of a button.
What to use it for
The designed usage for FileMatrix is for the cases when you want to have several directories displayed side by side, either to see their contents simultaneously or to speed up copy / move operations among them.
To be more specific, if you want to manage and navigate through your pictures, FileMatrix's multi-column view and navigation style is the best system you can possibly use. This has nothing to do with a program being better than another, but with a system being better for this specific task.
See some examples yourself:
More screenshots can be found here.
Basic. Extensive integrated help (configuration and help wizard, hints), between 1 and 10 columns for navigation in directories, 30 sets of columns called boards for organizing sets of directories, directory tree navigator, thumbnail pictures, drag-and-drop between columns and boards and to / from other applications, skins, special graphical effects.
Advanced. 20 containers (which are lists of files that can store, for example, the results of a search), picture converter (including the ability to normalize pictures to a specified size), media player (with the possibility to resume playing later), mouse gestures with a user interface called mouse menu, file hover information (which includes a thumbnail and a played media clip), text search with ranking (like an online search engine), steganography integrated with the viewer / editor (noise management included).
Configuration and help wizard
When you run the program for the first time, a wizard dialog will be displayed. This dialog will take you through a few steps which explain the most important features of the program and allow you to make some changes to the default interface.
You can display this dialog anytime you want, from the "Help \ Wizard" menu.
FileMatrix is dedicated to make file navigation and organization easy.
You can navigate and manage files using up to 10 columns, and 30 boards. Each column, in each board, can display the content of a different directory. Each column's status is saved, so that the next time you start the program, you can pick up working from where you left.
Columns can be grouped to act in a similar manner as a menu: when you open a directory listed in a column, its content is displayed in the column at its right. Also, when you "go up", the content of the parent directory is displayed in the column at its left. Still, each column can be used to navigate individually.
You can change what to do with the mouse, on a file. You can have 6 click and 4 drag operations at the same time. There is also a customizable mouse menu.
Files are sorted by type: directories, links, programs, documents, and generic files. For programs and documents you can change the recognized extensions.
Any column can display one of 20 containers. One application for containers is to work with the files resulted from a search. Basically, these files can be displayed in a column and you can work with them just as with the content of a directory.
File hover information
When the mouse cursor is moved over the top-left area of a file from a column (where the file type would be), and waits for a moment, some information (which includes a thumbnail and a played media clip) about the hovered file is displayed in a popup window. When the mouse is moved away, this window is closed automatically.
A file-viewer is integrated within the interface, oriented for multimedia. You can play all music or movies in a directory with just one click (automatic play-list), or you can make your own play-list files. It is possible to close a play-list and restart it later from where you stopped it (see the "MPLs" menu).
The text search within files performs in a similar manner as an online search engine. Found files are displayed in order of a calculated priority. You can simply enter words in an edit-box, and the program will search and rank the found files, giving higher priority to files that contain more words, or words that are near each other, or words that are whole (= not a part of a longer word). The search can be performed in a file's name, description, and / or content.
You can also search the navigation history for directories (which you previously visited) and files (which you previously launched).
You can find common text in selected files (for example, if you want to find the name of a person that occurs in all files).
Integrated steganography: documents are hidden in pictures, and stored as PNG pictures. Noise management is included; this leads to a storage density around:
The file viewer (and the file streams editor) can automatically extract and display text and picture files hidden in pictures. Basically, once you steg-in a text file into a picture, you can then view or edit the text file without extracting it from the picture. Thus, there is no need for unprotected copies of the text file to exist on your computer.
The most important advantage of using the steganographic module is the fact that nobody can say if you use this module or not. After all, you can use FileMatrix as a file manager, or strictly for your steganographic needs. If a dedicated program is found on your computer, suspicions are raised from the start.
See here how it works.
The source code for the steganographic module can be found in the source code archive.
Skins are "faces" for the main window of the program. A skin stores various options for the user interface, like: colors, background picture, buttons style, special effects.
A skin editor is available, so you can create your own skins, save them and load them at any time.
If you want to automatically change the background picture, use Wallperizer.
More details about skins can be found here.
You can find pictures for the background here.
For more features read History of changes.
FileMatrix has been heavily optimized along the years. While its entrails do not concern you, I want to give you an idea of the level of optimization at which FileMatrix is today.
For example, on WindowsXP, on a computer with a 1.3 Ghz processor, loading a directory with 25'000 files takes half a second. And yes, you read it right: twenty five thousands files!
Please note that this refers to the loading speed after the operating system has cached the directory, caching which takes several seconds no matter what program you use.
This is faster than other file managers because all FileMatrix's controls are custom designed by me. For instance, WindowsExplorer needs more than two seconds to load the same directory. Though this is of little practical effect, it shows the level of optimization reached in FileMatrix.
And this performance is reached despite the fact that FileMatrix also sorts files by type (directories, links, programs, documents, and generic files), sorting which requires more work and which is not performed by other programs.
The spacebar can be used to show the navigation tree and autmatically focus the directory whose content is displayed in the active column.
The thumb attribute of a column whose content consists only of directories is considered false.
Use "Escape" to minimize the program.
Fixed a small bug in drag-and-drop to other programs. Note that if you want to drag files to another program and you move the mouse over the boards bar, the external drag is canceled because the boards bar has its own drag monitoring mechanism.
Added media shortcut keys. These work only when the program's main window is focused.
Added "Send-drag" items for 7-Zip.
You may distribute FileMatrix for commercial purposes.
The width of the directory tree navigator from the main window can be up to 45% from the main window.
Column scrolling can be real-time if you check the option "Column \ Instant scrollbar thumb paint" (in which case the background of the scroll-bar is no longer displayed). This is necessary because GDI+ is not yet hardware accelerated, so fewer graphical operations must be performed.
Bug fixed: the "Locate" function had a bug when the "Locate similar names" option was checked and the user also used the "*" filter.
When you use the directory tree navigator (from the left side of the main window), if there is only one column in the active board, the content of the active directory is automatically displayed in the column. If there are more columns in the board, to achive this synchronization you still have to set the "Synchronize column" option.
Added the "File \ Miscellaneous \ Hash file" menu to generate file hashes.
Bug fixed: the index of the active board is correctly saved when the number of board buttons from the board bar is smaller than the index of the active board.
Added several functions which help managing grouped pictures. See the "File-drag \ More copy \ Copy as last numbered", "File-drag \ More copy \ Move as last numbered", "File \ Search \ Locate first numbered", "File \ Search \ Locate last numbered" menus. See this for how to work with them.
Added two new mouse operations: "Copy as last numbered", "Move as last numbered".
You can use Wallperizer to automatically change the wallpaper of your desktop and the background picture of FileMatrix. The program is small, fast, effective (uses the GDIPlus system), with lots of options. All you have to do is install the program and set the directories where you have the pictures that you want to be used as wallpaper; the default options will change the background picture of FileMatrix once every hour.
Added an option in the search dialog to add the found items to containers, that is, without clearing the container first.
Added two new mouse operations: "Copy as", "Move as".
Added a new function in the password generator which generates a hash value of a given text. Use this function to increase the strength of your passwords to dictionary attacks.
Added an option to fit small pictures in the entire thumbnail area (the aspect ratio is preserved).
The hint panel can be displayed as window: see the "Hint as panel window" option from the skin editor. This allows you to clearly view the hints when the text of the hints blends with the background picture.
The background picture has a fading effect; it replaces the translucency of the filling color. The skins you saved may need a small change to correct the exagerated fading which may occur because of this switch. The translucency of the filling color created confusion.
Bug fixed: The file search works with the "Modified" time. The measurement unit for time works with minutes and hours.
Bug fixed: Extended letters work as word characters in the file search.
Added the "Marble" predefined skin, which uses all sort of graphical effects and has a background picture.
Certain graphical features have their own colors (for example, the inactive focus doesn't share anymore its colors with the pushed buttons). If you already use an older version of the program, these features will automatically use the default colors, and thus they will look a bit weird. To correct this, simply load a predefined skin; if you want to load only the colors from a predefined skin (not the background picture and other parameters), use "Ctrl" when you click on the "Skins" button.
All controls of the main window have translucency. See the "Translucency" tab from the skin editor. Translucency effects are most impressive when there is a background picture.
Columns can't be transparent anymore, but they have translucency. If you set their translucency to maximum, they become transparent. This allows separate visual fading for the background picture of the columns, from the rest of the main window.
The scrollbars (of the columns) are skinned too.
The filtered selection in containers is performed against file titles (not names).
When a file is moved from one partition to another, its read-only attribute is cleared.
Use the "File \ Search \ Search history" menu to search the navigation history for directories which you have visited, and for files which you have launched. This works from the "Search" dialog, so you have all its power to work with the found files.
Each column which displays a container can show the file paths of container items. See the "File \ Attributes \ Paths in container" menu.
Bug fixed: When the system was returning from suspend mode it was freezing for a few seconds.
The directory tree navigator dialog contains a second tree-view (on the right) which shows the boards with their directories. If you drag a directory from here to the file system tree-view (from its left) and drop it, the directory is expanded in the view.
The "File \ Drop to partition" menu has been changed in the "File \ Drop to directory" menu. It allows operations to be directly performed to partitions or to a directory chosen from the directory tree navigator dialog.
The boards can be accessed through the "Boards" button or their shortcut keys. The shortcut keys can be assigned as you want.
A new mouse operation was added: "Inter-board file-drag menu". This operation displays the respective menu. To make an inter-board drag-and-drop operation, drop a column on the "Boards" button and then use the "Inter-board file-drag menu" mouse operation to display that menu; you can also use "Ctrl + B" and "Shift + B". Note that you may want to use the "File \ Drop to directory" menu to quickly perform operations to directories from other boards.
The thumbnail height can be set with the "Fill" value. This means that there is only one thumbnail item in that column, which covers the entire height of the column.
Thumbnails are no longer loaded when you drag the thumb of the scrollbar. This makes the scrolling be real-time (even in the columns which display thumbnails) because you don't have to wait for pictures to be cached. When the scrollbar thumb is released, the visible thumbnails are cached. An option allows you to deactivate this feature.
Files can also be sorted by their creation time and size.
New options in the multi-rename function. You can now append the initial name of a file, to its new name.
When you paste text in the file streams editor, the text formatting is ignored.
Directories with thousands of files are loaded even faster (due to improvements in the sorting method).
Added an option to make the main window of the program stay on top of all other windows. It is highly recommended to restart the program if you change this several times.
A new custom designed list-box control eliminates most visual flicker (like the one during the loading of directories). The columns with subcolumns are scrolled vertically. This results in higher loading speed for directories and more efficient use of resources.
The file type can be simulated, that is, even if it's not visible, it works as if it were. This option is activated by default. This way you have more mouse operations without having to display the file type field.
Thumbnails are extracted from video files. You have to rename ".mpg" files to ".mpeg", for this to work. In the file hover window, you can choose to display thumbnails for video files.
Added mouse operations for the column header button.
Added new mouse operations: "Set as background", "Set as wallpaper".
The file hover window doesn't display the size for directories, and also displays to full size (in bytes).
If you use "Ctrl" when you display the "Skins" menu, when a skin is loaded, only its colors are loaded (the other parameters remain the current ones).
Added file hover information.
When the mouse wheel is rotated, the scroll occurs in the column above which the mouse cursor is.
The thumbnail height is now only for the thumbnail itself, not for the entire column item; the information lines are not included in the height.
The splitters are integrated with their associated control; they are not at the margin of the main window anymore.
Fixed several bugs.
Version 7 (and previous)
Added hot-track for column items.
You can copy and move files to a partition using the "File \ Drop to partition" menu instead of using another column.
The directory where the internal options files are, can be changed (use the "File \ Attributes \ Special paths" menu).
New design for the column buttons: only one button is at the top of each column, the "Parent directory" button. The "Column" and "File" menus have been merged. When the content of the directory displayed in a column changes, a horizontal line strikes the button caption. The "Parent directory" button looks pressed if the column's fixed attribute is set.
Columns can be dragged between boards; hover the mouse over a board button to display the new board. This allows you to display the "File-drag" menu where a column from a board is the source, and a column from another board is the destination.
Added multi-rename files function.
Files found after a search can be selected.
The thumbnails view displays icons from executable files, cursor files, and links to them.
The background picture of a skin can be fitted to the main window before it is tiled.
Corrected a bug in file filters / selection, which compared the filter against file titles instead of file names. That meant that filters which didn't start with "*", didn't have matches.
Corrected a bug in "Search duplicates", which displayed the "Search".
Two new mouse operations: "Toggle up selection", "Toggle down selection".
The "GDIPlus.dll" file has been updated (to version 5.1.3102.1360) to correct the JPEG exploit.
Improved special graphical effects and replaced color schemes with skins. A skin editor is available.
New design of the user interface. Added special graphical effects.
Added a configuration wizard.
Added a directory tree navigator, as a column.
Added a directory tree navigator, as a dialog (to have room for navigation).
The mouse menu has 12 operations.
Fixed a bug in drag-and-drop to other programs, which made the function not work sometimes.
Fixed a bug in multi-rename container items, which made the function not work.
The options of the columns are saved in a separate file (than the rest of the options). This has increased the speed with which the program is started and closed. The old options are imported automatically (one time).
Added an option in the "Search" dialog to automatically show the "Search" / "Find" board when the found files are put in a container.
The first column of the "Search" / "Find" board can be focused before the "Search" dialog is opened.
The mouse menu item over which the mouse cursor is hovering, is displayed with different colors than the other items (in order to make it more visible).
The font of the dialog boxes is Arial 9, just like the default font of the main window.
The file streams editor no longer blocks your work, when it's open: it can be minimized.
The text editor works on all operating systems, but the streams (including the file description) work only on supporting operating systems (minimum Windows2000).
New layout. All options will be in a single directory, called "Options". Due to significant changes in the layout, some options must be reset. Therefore, the old options file is not imported by the new version of the program.
Added a mouse menu.
Implemented containers. Any column can display one of 20 containers. One application for containers is to work with the files resulted from a search. Basically, these files can be displayed in a column and you can work with them just as with the content of a directory.
The blank space at the bottom of the columns which are displayed with subcolumns, below the scroll bar, has been eliminated.
The toolbar buttons have a width proportional with the size of the font. This way they will show their entire caption when the size of the font is increased.
Implemented multi-resolution picture cache (multi-resolution for the same picture).
Added the "File \ View \ View this media in directory" menu which behaves like "View media in directory" but starts playing from the focused media (not from the first media).
The "File parts" field from text search has a new value, "Text", which is equivalent with the "Content" value for the text files recognized by the viewer. For example, if this value is set, and the file name filter is set for all files, and you want to search for the text "roses", when the content of files is searched only text files are checked. This means that you can find any text file which contains the text "roses", but also any picture file whose name contain the text "roses" (but the content of the pictures is not checked, and this makes the search faster).
An option allows you to hide the file type field.
The hint for text search filter is corrected. The main change is "&&" to "&".
The user interface infrastructure has been redesigned and this can be seen (or better yet, felt) in the speed of control painting. Also, on older operating systems, the resources should be freer now.
Each column has subcolumns. This means that each column is able to display the content of a directory in a table-like manner.
Each column has its own width and thumbnail height.
Multiple color schemes are available (from menu "Colors" from the toolbar).
In the "Column functions" menu there is a menu item called "Default directory". It displays the directory which the column had when the program started.
Files can be dragged-and-dropped to other programs.
Integrated steganography; see the "File-drag \ Miscellaneous" menu, the "Steg" functions. Steganography means that documents are hidden in pictures (and stored as PNG pictures). Noise management included (see the "File \ View \ View steg noise" menu); this leads to an average storing space of 1 bit for every 3 pixels, and an average storing density of 1 in 30. The viewer (and the file streams editor) can automatically extract and display text and picture files hidden in pictures.
The file streams editor dialog has the same color as the main window. Some other design changes.
Added a "Go to line" function in the file streams editor.
Added a gizmo to convert text to code (HTML hexadecimal code).
In the "Rename" dialog-box, when you press "Arrow up" the current file is renamed and then the previous file is loaded to be renamed, without the dialog being closed.
The media play-list has a splitter to adjust its width.
Fixed error in "Find common text".
Text files are displayed as thumbs. Thumb area has a separate color than the general column color.
The text search function uses file paths too. For example, if you have two files called "Pictures \ Flowers \ Garden \ Roses.bmp" and "Pictures \ Flowers \ House \ Roses.bmp", a text search for "pictures with roses in the garden" would give a higher priority to the first file.
Added the "File \ Miscellaneous \ Paste picture" menu to paste the clipboard picture in the active column.
Added picture viewer plugin infrastructure.
Each column has a sorting option, only for documents and generic files; sort by: name, last modification time (up and down). For example, you can use the "Modified, old-new" option for the case when you have lots of notes (each in a file), and the notes that are modified at some point have to go to the bottom so that the older notes would come to the top, to your attention.
Now you can normalize pictures on both axis at the same time. This means that it is guaranteed that pictures will fit the given normalization rectangle regardless of their size on any of the axis.
In the file viewer you can use "MMB" to add to the clipboard the coordinates of the clicked point. This works like adding the color (with "RMB").
New substitution commands (for items in the "Send" and "Send drag" menus) create, in the clipboard, a list of the titles of all selected files.
Fixed an error in the picture cache system, which caused pictures to be reloaded every time they were displayed. So, now the cache actually works.
Fixed an error in the text search function, error which was hiding some files when not all filters matched. Fixed another error in the "near detection" module.
Added an option for the files sizes to be displayed using the classic method (with KB, MB, GB) or using the exponential method.
Some options can now be set from a combo-box instead of an edit-box.
Added the "Find common text" function. It finds common text in the selected files. A full (plain-text) report is generated. The function is good if you want to see if the name of a person occurs in more than one file.
Added "Go to file" in the external file-drag menu. Simply drop a file on the main window of the program in order to load the parent directory of the dropped file, in the active column.
Added an option for the "Convert picture" function, to save the pictures with the size specified by the normalized options. Basically, you can convert pictures to a different format and a normalized size. Good for making thumb pictures out of a directory full of pictures of all sizes.
Added "Attach stream" menu to replace a stream from the destination file, with the main stream of the source file.
Added a dialog to generate random passwords to use for websites (in the "Work \ Gizmos" menu).
The number of streams of a file is displayed. The size of secondary streams is displayed.
You are warned if you copy / move files with streams to a partition that doesn't support file streams.
Streams are copied when you convert pictures.
The active file description bar recognizes as file description a stream with the name "Description". This way you have better control than with the old method (from the file's properties).
Added a find text function for the file streams editor.
I have corrected an error responsible for some instability of the program, error caused by the usage of the function that directly (= not through the context menu) displayed the properties of a file.
Added a file streams editor.
Improved the "Rename" function: when you press "Arrow down" the current file is renamed and then the next file is loaded to be renamed, without the dialog being closed. This way you can easily (manually) rename a group of files.
Added a menu for associating a file extension with a file type or a type recognized by the viewer.
Partition attributes are displayed in the "Active column" information bar.
Added a menu for files dropped from another program; it contains the "Copy as" function. Good for dropping pictures from an Internet browser, in order to save them with a new name.
Added the following options for text search: "Only whole", "Near detection", "All filters", "Search file parts" (name, description, content), "Always focus this" (the text filter instead of the file name filter). Also add the "must" operator.
Added a menu for setting a picture as wallpaper.
Fixed a nasty bug when running the program on WindowsXP with the "Hide underline..." effect activated (which is the default option).
Boards can be moved in the place of other boards: the board is cut from its old place and inserted in the new place; the boards in between move toward left or right to make room.
Increased the number of boards to 30.
The search function has a multiple text filter with ranked results (like an online search engine).
The quality of the filter for picture conversion is a number; this way you get better quality for a smaller size.
Fixed a bug when the active column's "Parent" button was not updated.
The media play-list is integrated in the main window, and the media-player in it.
Integrated "Repeat" and "Fit" options for the media-player.
Each board has its own number of columns. You can set the number of columns for all boards or just the current one.
You can set the number of rows on which the board buttons are displayed.
File prefixes can be automatically generated from either the current or the creation time of files.
The resolution of thumb pictures is displayed. You can displayed normalized resolution (= scaled to a specified width or height).
Boards (their content) can be interchanged.
Added "Switch mouse operations" option in the file search dialog, to allow you to switch the "Double LMB" mouse operation (on a found file) between the "Locate" and "Run" functions.
Fixed a bug in "Search duplicate" that made the function unusable.
Fixed bug in the menu displayed with "RMB" on "Enter parent directory" button.
"Copy as" works with directories too.
The position in the last played media (from the "MPLs" menu) is saved.
Added shortcuts to organize (show/ hide various bars) the user interface.
Added a toolbar.
Added the "Thumb" attribute for each column. This allows you to display a thumbnail of a file (if it is a picture recognized by the picture viewer) below the name of the file. Checking this doesn't (visibly) influence the loading time of a directory.
Added "Create hard-link" function in the "File-drag" menu.
Added "Drop-copy", "Drop-convert picture", and "Drop-move" functions in the "File-drag" menu. These functions are just like the ones without "Drop", but the destination directory is the one on which drop occurs (not the directory displayed in the destination column). Use these functions when you need, for example, to move pictures from a directory in various directories (= categories), to organize them after download.
Improved file name prefix functions.
Added "Search duplicates" function in the "File-drag" menu.
Improved "Locate file" (the old "Focus file") function.
Improved "Search file" (the old "Find") function.
Added a hint bar (just like in TextReader).
Changed the "Up" button into a button that displays the name of the currently displayed directory.
"Mobility" attribute changes into "Fixed" attribute for a more homogenous interface; the "Mobility" attributes are lost (they are reset to default).
Increased the number of boards to 20.
Added "welded" columns, columns that stay in place when the board is changed.
Added the possibility to copy files to directories which don't support encryption.
0-sized files are considered older (than any other file) no matter what their "last write time" is.
Fixed a bug during installation when no sub-directories where copied.
Fixed a bug when linking as location.
The "Link as" function uses the parent directory name as prefix for the new link file.
The "Okay (no errors)" button works in "Search".
First public release of FileMatrix: version 1 on 1 August 2001.