CubicExplorer is a free, open-source file manager which aims to offer a partial replacement to Windows Explorer.
At first glance the program looks very similar to Explorer, so you'll feel at home right away. But take a closer look and some useful additional features will become obvious. For example, as with many similar tools, CubicExplorer offers tabbed browsing of your file system. Click File > Add Tab to add as many new tabs as you need, point these to commonly-used folders and they'll now only be a click away.
You also get filters, a convenient way to view only the file types you need. Click a Pictures folder on our test system and the Filters pane told us there were 189 JPGs, 4 PNG files, and 1 each of BMP, GIF and TXT files. If for some reason we wanted to view only the PNG files then checking that box would be enough to make it happen; or alternatively we could enter a simple text string and CubicExplorer should display any files with a name containing those characters.
And browsing the menus reveals plenty of interesting extras. There are no less than 5 ways to copy a file or folder path to the clipboard, for instance; there's an option to create symbolic links for files; and the program provides support for themes, transparency, and many different configuration settings, all of which can be saved as a working session for easy reuse later.
The program doesn't always work quite as you expect. If you type a text filter like steve*.jpg, for instance, you might expect to immediately see only JPG images beginning with the word "steve", but actually nothing is filtered at all: you need to click a "Strict filtering" box to turn this on. There are similar issues with defaults elsewhere and so you might have to spend a while exploring the various buttons and settings before you properly understand what CubicExplorer can do.
It's still a useful program, though, and very unobtrusive. This is the portable build of CubicExplorer, so it doesn't require installation, won't write to your Registry or interfere with your existing Explorer setup; just unzip it into a folder somewhere and use it whenever Windows Explorer just isn't up to the job.