Some days, I really miss Midnight Commander1. The combination of a menu-based full-screen UI and the command-based "glass teletype" provided a wonderful melding of chocolate and peanut butter power and convenience: casually navigating through the filesystem could lead directly to more advanced manipulation without requiring an overcrowded or complicated UI.

a screenshot of Midnight Commander

But these days, I use Windows Explorer. It's reasonably nice for casual browsing, but lacks the ability to quickly enter commands - or see the results - in the context of a given folder. Opening up a separate console window is inconvenient, particularly when I have multiple folders open to different locations at once (as is usually the case). It would be nice if there was an add-on for Explorer that would allow quick entry and execution of commands in the context shown, with the output listed in situ rather than requiring me to jump to a different window.

To be clear: I'm not looking for a 'Commander clone that runs on Windows. When in Rome, do as the Romans - and Rome uses Windows Explorer. I just want to somehow add this small capability which has so long been absent from my toolset to the tools already available on my Windows systems.


1yeah, I know about Norton. But I never used it.

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    Why don't you want to use a commander clone for windows? Smells like it would perfectly fit your needs. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 15:54
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    Same reason I don't want to use a Dvorak keyboard, @Angelo: I'm not interested in becoming accustom to a UI that'll never be available on other machines. I'm looking to make my existing workflow more efficient, not change it completely.
    – Bullwinkle
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:10
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    Would it exist, the plugin you hope for would not be available on other machines either…
    – Gallaecio
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 19:03
  • No, but CMD and Explorer would, and since those are the UIs I'm working with my workflow doesn't change much - it just gets more tedious since I have more windows to keep track of, @Gallaecio.
    – Bullwinkle
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 19:21
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    Re: Why can't I type "hg push" into this? Actually, you can type command into address line and it will be executed in current directory. This can be helpful sometimes, e.g. it's an easy way to start bash (my choice) or cmd in current directory, just type shell name in address line and press enter. I didn't find this in answers, but it might be interesting to you.
    – xaizek
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 17:24

4 Answers 4


You want to grab a utility called ConEmu:

ConEmu Integration

This is a console host replacement which includes explorer integration (In the settings, under Features > Integration > ConEmu Inside).

  • Perfect - I'll have to play with the configuration a bit, but within a few minutes of unpacking the files I had a serviceable console within an Explorer window, so this seems to fit the bill!
    – Bullwinkle
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 18:07
  • @Darth, Is this a Chinese app?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 18:52
  • @Pacerier No, the best screenshot I could find on short notice in Google Images simply was taken on a computer with a non-english localization. I'll update the link to use a non-SourceForge link, though. Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 15:25
  • @DarthAndroid, Don't you use this program yourself? I'd thought meta says that posters must first use the apps they answer with....
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:02
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    @Pacerier I do use this program myself, just not in the described manner (I have a number of other customizations integrated into Windows Explorer on my machine, and it was easier to find a screenshot than to make everything play nice on my machine) Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 14:26

Midnight Commander was just a port (or rather emulation) of Norton Commander.

As such, your best option is to use the modern emulation of NC, called FAR.

It has the same exact interface as NC and MC, with ASCII based file management GUI and command line underneath the GUI (which can turn into full console with Ctrl-O / Ctrl-F1

Midnight Commander UI

  • It also has approximately gazillion plugins.

  • It was originally developed by RarSoft (same outfit that develops WinRar compression utility). Since then the source code was given away by RarSoft and the current stable versions are fully freeware (2.0 and the latest stable, 3.0), though I'm uncertain if they are FOSS.

  • For better CLI integration, you can position your cursor on any file/directory name in the file manager, and copy that name to current command line using Ctrl-Enter

  • Inline file viewer (with plugin support).

  • History of commands; locations; and files.

  • FAR is free, small and trivial to install from .msi file (including in temp directory if you have no local admin perms) so you rarely need to worry about it being not available. This should address your concern about being used to a GUI not available elsewhere.


Total Commander is the most versatile, feature rich and popular Norton Commander clone on Windows. It has many features, amazing shortcuts, and a command line is always available. Also, you can configure fonts, colors and which aspects are visible.

Total Commander UI

Some of its many features (taken from site) :

  • Two file windows side by side Multiple languages and Unicode support
  • Enhanced search function Compare files (now with editor) /
  • synchronize directories Quick View panel with bitmap display ZIP,
  • ARJ, LZH, RAR, UC2, TAR, GZ, CAB, ACE archive handling + plugins
  • Built-in FTP client with FXP (server to server) and HTTP proxy
  • support Parallel port link, multi-rename tool Tabbed interface,
  • regular expressions, history+favorites buttons Thumbnails view,
  • custom columns, enhanced search Compare editor, cursor in lister,
  • separate trees, logging, enhanced overwrite dialog etc. Unicode names
  • almost everywhere, long names (>259 characters), password manager for
  • FTP and plugins, synchronize empty dirs, 64-bit context menu, quick file filter (Ctrl+S)
  • @Darth, What's with all these Chinese characters?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 20:06
  • @Pacerier: unfortunately, testing for Unicode support still needs to be done. Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 21:51

Dolphin, the KDE file manager, can run on Windows and provides an easy to use, built-in terminal that you can hide or show quickly with a key shortcut.

Dolphin with the built-in terminal open.

Terminal and file management views are in sync, meaning that as you move into or out of folders in either of those views, the change affects both views, which really rocks.

It also supports tabs, which judging by your comments (“[…] when I have multiple folders open to different locations at once […]”) would do you some good.

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