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LIST: Best file browser for PCs

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

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LIST: Best file browser for PCs

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1994, The Syracuse Newspapers

Long before I ever used Microsoft Windows, I used LIST. It's a so-called file browser—and much more. It's the sort of program that should have been included in MS-DOS from the start.

LIST is so handy and so powerful that I still use it, even under Windows. It's the single best file-management utility around. There are some that have more features, and some that look fancier. But nothing comes close in speed, flexibility and ease of use.

LIST is the child of Vernon Buerg. It's been one of the PC world's most popular shareware programs for years, and even comes in a fancier commercial version now, too. (The shareware version is still available and probably always will be.)

A file browser is a program that lets you quickly view the contents of files. LIST handles text files exceptionally well, with extensive searching capabilities. You can search for something in a single file or in all files in a single directory. And the files it views can be any size, too.

You move a wide cursor up and down a list of files to choose the one you want to view, then press the Enter key. To get into another directory, you move the cursor to the top of the list and hit Enter, to move to the next directory up. (There's another way to do this, too, but I'll keep to the simple techniques here.)

With the cursor on the name of a text file, pressing "E" pulls that file into your favorite text-editing or word-processing program. This is the handiest way I know of to edit texts, and I use it almost exclusively when I am programming. (Programmers use text editors, not word processors, but they work much the same.)

Pressing "V" when the cursor is on the name of an archived file—one that has been compressed using PKZIP or LHARC and so on—will show a list of the contents of the archived file.

Pressing "I" when the cursor is on the name of a program runs that program. ("R" is already used to represent Rename, so Buerg uses "I" for "Invoke.")

Pressing "C" lets you copy the file, pressing "D" deletes the file, and so on.

There's more. If you have the cursor on a telephone number in a text file (or in a file that's just a list of numbers), LIST dials that number. If you are viewing a text file and want to save part of it, a couple of keystrokes handles the task nicely.

And that's just the beginning.

LIST is a DOS program, and runs perfectly in its own window when you run Windows 3.1 in its normal mode. (If you use so-called Standard mode—which is far from standard!—it runs DOS programs full-screen, one at a time.)

Since LIST is so useful, it might as well be as handy as possible, too. That's why substituting LIST for TASKMAN.EXE is a good idea. Windows runs whatever program is listed as the TASKMAN when you double-click on a blank are of the desktop. So, with that change in SYSTEM.INI, LIST is always a click-click away.

Do you lose the use of the Task Manager? No, you can always run it by double-clicking on TASKMAN.EXE in the File Manager. But why worry? The Task Manager is one of the least useful parts of Windows, anyway.

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