xplorer² Quick Start Guide
File exploring reinvented: Feel like home miles away from home

Customer support

xplorer² is a program with vast context and a great number of advanced commands, that will no doubt cause problems or questions for users sooner or later. We want to believe that the program is rather intuitive and users can troubleshoot themselves with simple reasoning and extrapolation from familiar circumstances, but there is no magical one-size-fits-all unfortunately.

The quickest route to solving your problems is to do-it-yourself! No hanging around waiting for support from the author. Sometimes the solution will be close at hand, in the help texts of commands as they appear on the status bar, or described in the tooltips of input fields in dialog windows.

For more substantial issues there are quite a few useful resources you can use for self-help:

We made an effort to write all this information about the program and we strongly believe you will benefit no end by reading the available documentation in full - at least this "bitesize" guide. You will learn many tricks and explore the available commands to increase your productivity using xplorer².

Still if reading manuals is not your thing you can skim across the documentation, searching for keywords (using your browser's Edit | Find on this page command) that describe your query or problem. Then follow hyperlinks to related information, if necessary.

If you fail to find what you need using the documentation, you've got these further options:

Suspected bugs

If you think you've discovered a bug, please ask yourself a few questions before seeking support:

Thank you!

Minimum requirements

xplorer² will run in a basic trim on all win32 platforms (95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/2003/Vista/Windows 7/8/10), however a subset of its features depend on windows services that may or may not be available on all PCs. In most cases you can get full functionality by installing a recent version of Internet Explorer.

ToolbarsWindows 95 with Internet Explorer v.3 or better
ThumbnailsWindows 98 or NT4 with Active Desktop update
File commentsWindows NT4 (NTFS formatted partitions)
FTPInternet Explorer v.3
Zip foldersWindows ME or Windows XP (for windows 2000 please see FAQ B4)
Audio/Video previewWindows Media Player v.6
Column handlersWindows 2000 for extended file information
Text filtersWindows 2000 or later. For PDF see FAQ D3
Arrange in groupsWindows XP
Ribbon toolbarWindows Vista

The companion text viewer application editor² requires richedit control version 3 (riched20.dll 5.30.xxx or better) which may not be present on systems pre-2000. However this is not an issue since you can associate any external editor with xplorer².

Feature comparison table

This table summarizes the main differences between windows explorer (2000) and alternative file managers from Zabkat's stable: the old 2xExplorer and xplorer². The table shows at a glance the increased functionality available in the pro version too.

Note that the "lite" version is free for private and academic use only. For any other use including commercial, government, military etc, you must purchase a licence for xplorer² pro. See licence.txt for more information.

All-area shell namespace access
Shell integrated with drag/drop, context menu etc
Automatic sensing of changes in all folders (networked etc)
Multithreaded & multi-window operation
Folder tree panel
Bookmark and quicklaunch panel (mini-scrap)
Dual pane mode (browse 2 folders in one window)
Tabbed interface
Docking and floating panes
Save and restore tabs (folder groups)
Keyboard shortcuts and overall usability
Path autocompletion
Filtering of item visibility
Filtering on arbitrary criteria (hyperfilters)
Fuzzy filename matching
Selection engine for precision marking of files
Selection with arbitrary criteria (hyperfilters)
Extended filesystem information columns (comments etc)
Even more columns (checksum, 8.3 name etc)
Column handler support for vista & windows 7/8/10
Multi-column sort (using shift+column click)
Show in (collapsible) groups
User defined groups
Individual folder settings
Custom/skinned system icons (drives etc)
Extended icon overlays (e.g. TortoiseSVN)
Color coding of filenames
Window layout saving and management
Export folder information as text (for printing etc)
Extract plain text from office/PDF/WPD/ODT documents
Robust background file transfers with optional filters
Robust deletion with error control and filters
Hard links (NTFS)
Folder junctions, symbolic links (NTFS)
Mass renaming
Mass tag/comment management
Change file dates (touch)
Find text in files
Search for multiple keywords with boolean context
Search for text in office and PDF/WPD/ODT documents using filters  
Search for contained text and filenames using regular expressions
Customizable info bars (status bar for each pane)
Context sensitive file information (details) pane
Unicode, UTF-8 & file encoding aware
Unicode version available
Text/RTF/Hex preview
Exact preview of ActiveX documents (office etc)
Text editor
Graphics preview
Thumbnail view mode (using fast system cache)
Mini- and densely packed thumbnails
Multimedia preview (audio & video)
Find files with arbitrary criteria
Search within archives, FTP, webfolders (webDAV) etc
Refine previous search
Scrap containers (simultaneous management of many folders)
Folder synchronization
Deep synchronization (including subfolders)
Script wizard for DOS & win32 text commands
Intercept command output in user-friendly console
Customizable user command menu
Detect duplicate files & cleanup
Toolbar customization
Add extra toolbars and custom button icons
Toolbar skinning
Drivebar for easy access of local drives
Detailed breakdown of subfolder disk usage (statistics)
Calculate folder sizes in detailed view
Long path support for big folder names (>260 letters)
Total commander WLX/WDX/WCX plugins for archives, preview and attributes
Keyboard customization
Programmable user interface with macros
Native 64 bit executable
Sample reading speed for folder with 7000 items (sec)
Program size (KB)237596683970
Commands in the menu system48100154229

[PRO] Program registration How to activate xplorer² using your key

The professional version can be installed and tried in full trim without obligation for the first 21 days - and a further 10 days with some extra nags. The registration dialog will pop up every time you start the program, but you do not have to buy a key immediately. Click on Continue button (see below) to proceed on a trial basis. When you are ready to order click on Secure order and follow the online instructions (or use this order page).

NOTE: As a matter of courtesy to new users xplorer² does not ask ('nag') for a registration key during the first day you start using it. If you have a key and you want to use it immediately then start xplorer² and use Help | Activate with key menu command

After the end of the 31-day trial period you must obtain a registration key or the program will refuse to start.

Figure 24. Opening screen

After you complete the order process, the registration key will be sent to you via email. Click on I have an unlock key button to start the external license manager. The license manager is a separate program that will run elevated to bypass any UAC problems in windows vista or later. In there you copy/paste the unlock key you received via email and click Activate button (see below). Once the key is accepted just restart xplorer². You can confirm your registration using Help | About menu command.

Figure 25. External license manager

In some rare cases the key may not be accepted. There are a number of possible causes, explained in this FAQ. If you still have problems please ask for help including a snapshot of the exact error code.

NOTE: The professional and ultimate editions have different unlock keys. If you bought a license for xplorer² professional it can only be used if you install the professional version (and vice versa for the ultimate edition). You can check which xplorer² version you are running using Help | About menu command. If you don't have the correct version installed just get the relevant trial version from the website. You can quickly tell which license you bought from the format of the registration reference number (see the email receipt). Ultimate version keys are bigger.
  • professional: X2.4-12345678
  • ultimate: X2UL.4-E2282F64

Ultimate (Portable) edition

If you are using xplorer² on the move you will find that saving program settings in the windows registry is not an option. One of the main advantages of xplorer² ultimate version is its portability. Using Tools | Options you can tell xplorer² to store its settings in a file instead of the registry:

Figure 26. Alternative setting persistence options

If you keep your ultimate version on a USB stick then pick the option "file in installation folder", which will save the settings in a file called X2SETTINGS.INI next to the xplorer² executable program. If you installed the ultimate version on your hard disk and still don't want to use the registry, pick the option "file in user appdata folder" (usually C:\Users\<you>\AppData\Roaming\zabkat), as the installation folder inside C:\Program Files will most likely be protected and inaccessible.

Here are the step-by-step instructions to place xplorer² ultimate in a USB stick environment. For example assuming we want to setup the portable version within F:\x2portable\ folder:

  1. Install xplorer² ultimate on your home computer (on your C:\ hard disk) and use your unlock key to activate it.
  2. Setup the program options to taste.
  3. Use the menu command Actions | Export settings to write the settings to the file F:\x2portable\x2settings.INI
  4. Copy all the files in the installation folder (typically C:\program files\zabkat\xplorer2) including the license file X2.LIC to the USB stick (F:\x2portable)
  5. (optional) If you are using the mini-scrap pane (View | Mini scrap command) make sure you place the CIDA contents file on your USB stick too, by right-clicking on the miniscrap and choosing Save as command - but note that all contents must be on the USB stick.

If you have problems setting this up please watch this demo video: setup portable USB

NOTE: Not all your favorite settings may be reusable in different computers; e.g. some of your bookmarks may point to inexistent folders. Using environmental variables in path definitions may alleviate this problem.
If you have more than one Layouts (Window menu) please open one window from each layout when you export your settings from registry to the INI file.

xplorer² defines the environmental variable X2DIR as the full path to the folder where xplorer² is running from, e.g. F:\tools\ (trailing backslash included). You can take advantage of this when you define external commands (Customize | User commands menu). E.g. if you have another tool on your USB place it in the same folder as xplorer² and call it using %X2DIR%myTool.exe - which will be equivalent to F:\tools\myTool.exe but won't depend on the drive letter your USB stick happens to be assigned.

After you properly set up your portable edition in a removable medium like a USB stick, then you have these advantages:

To ease the way you access xplorer² from your removable media you can create an AUTORUN.INF file in your root USB drive folder, and set it to open xplorer², editing it as such:

open=x2portable\xplorer2_UC.exe [optional arguments]

TIP: The ultimate edition comes in separate 32 and 64 bit versions. Thinking about portability you will be better off using the 32 bit version, as it will run on all computers - whereas the 64 bit one will be limited to those installed with 64 bit windows.


xplorer² was developed in C++/WTL, almost singled-handedly by Nikos Bozinis. Completing the picture, shouts go out to:

Here are the people that translated the program in various languages:

During the long years of development many testers have helped with suggestions, testing and bug reports. Thanks to you all!

Big up for all the "old hands" from the forum who have helped over and above anybody else with their tireless testing and constant flow of suggestions - did I say harassment? :) - that drove xplorer² in the shape and form it is now. In alphanumerical order thanks out to: BRX, fgagnon, JRz, MKairys, Morning Star, narayan, PhilipSutton, Starsurfer and vserghi.

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