Two free programs that can enhance Windows 7 or 8: AniExplorer and Folder Options X


Windows 7 is quite good, but there are certain things that can be better about it. For example, you may have tried to rearrange the icons in a folder manually and found, to your surprise, that you can’t.

Or perhaps you tried to filter your files by size or by date in icon or tile folder view, but was unable to. Folder Options X is a free program that can remedy both of these issues; it can also disable full row select, which can be quite useful.

AniExplorer, on the other hand, is for those who like to change the way things behave by default, and/or like to add a little twist. It adds custom animations to Windows in the way icons are displayed in folders. The effect is surprisingly pleasant (and can be seen in the video below).

Windows 7 enhancements illustration




Note, though, that ironically these two programs are incompatible and do not seem to work on the same system together.

Folder Options X: offers 3 tweaks

Folder Options X screenshot

(1) Enable dragging and dropping to arrange icons.

Open a Windows 7 or 8 folder similar to the one below. Now grab one of the objects and try to re-arrange them; you will find that you cannot. Once you apply the tweak, you will find that the functionality is miraculously restored. The screenshot below left shows the files ordered as Windows 7 wants to order them, while the screenshot below right shows them reordered as per my drag and drop.

drag and drop icons and re-order them on demand - beforedrag and drop icons and re-order them on demand - after

(2) Enable filtering in all views, not just ‘Details’ view.

Windows 7 has some nice filtering options, but strangely these are only available in ‘Details’ view. Not to worry though, Folder Options X will let you enable these for all views (see below).

use column sort headers in all folder views

(3) Disable full row select (in ‘Details’ view)

This can be beneficial for a number of reasons. For example, it can prevent you from accidentally dragging and dropping an object onto a subfolder, etc. The new behavior is illustrated in the screenshot below. Notice my rectangle below is not selecting the files; to do that I would have

disable full row select

AniExplorer: adds customizable animation to folder icons

AniExplorer Screenshot

The best way to illustrate the effect is to show in action, in the below video.

Note that if your PC is resource-challenged, then you might want to opt out of adding this sort of eye candy.

Compatibility: these tweaks work on both Windows 7 and Windows 8, 32 bit and 64 bit.

As mentioned above, do not install both of these simultaneously, as they seem to not want to coexist on the same machine.