When comparing Cygwin vs XYplorer, the Slant community recommends Cygwin for most people. In the question“What are the best power user tools for Windows?” Cygwin is ranked 19th while XYplorer is ranked 21st.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Additional packages available via Cygwin Ports project
Pro Better default terminal
Cygwin's default terminal "Mintty" is far better than CMD.
Pro You can run graphical applications
It has X Server.
Pro Frequent and regular updates
Bugfixes and new features are released frequently. Additionally, XYplorer can automatically check for updates and has convenient download and update functionality built-in.
Pro Extremely configurable
There are literally hundreds of ways you can customize this software. All the settings can be contained in a single configuration file, so you can easily create "profiles" as well.
Pro Very reliable
It's small and fast, has lots of features, and helps you get your work done faster.
Pro Lifetime license available
XYplorer probably has the best "bang for the buck". It surely has its cons but considering what one gets for a "small" one-time investment, probably no other comparable feature rich product offers a better license.
The lifetime license ($63.95) includes all future updates for free, lets you install on any number of computers, and includes the portable version.
Pro Numerous filtering, sorting, and highlighting methods for files
Create rules and configurations to quickly identify and locate specific types of file and display them in various ways.
Uses a very flexible scripting language that you can do many things with it. After learning it, one can get many other tools replaced in favor of a single centralized, extremely customize-able command center, plus writing one own's personal routines to fully perform finely-tuned file management. However, doing basic things like stringing together common renaming and moving tasks takes very little knowledge. Scripting is easy for beginners, is supported by the developer and the community, yet can be incredibly deep and powerful.
Pro Dual pane
Manage files with two panes which can be arranged horizontally or vertically - and each can have multiple tabs to boot. You can also easily save and reload open tabs as tab sets.
Pro Custom toolbar buttons
With its powerful scripting ability and the easily accessible menu identifiers, creating customized commands and toolbar buttons provides yet even further levels of usability specific to your needs.
Pro Easy to use
XYPlorer, in spite of its complexity and completeness, is very easy to use. Features are obvious. And where they're not obvious they can be discovered easily. An example is the ease of "Jump to Setting" which helps you effortlessly find which of many settings you're looking for.
Pro Logs plenty of actions for undo/redo
Up to 256 actions are logged and can be looked up and undone later in case of a mistake. Undo/Redo works even across sessions (i.e. after closing and restarting the app).
Pro Thumbnail viewing for images is both fast and customizable
If you're a photographer, wannabe photographer, or you just take a lot of photos, XYplorer is a great file manager for working with images. Combined with the Mouse Down Blow Up (MDBU) feature, previewing photos is very easy.
It doesn't require you to install it on your computer, allowing you to run it directly from a disk or from an USB flashdrive.
Pro The catalog: an all-purpose area that can be customized for all of your needs
An all-purpose area that you can customize for all your needs. It can be a list of favorite directories, run scripts, replace the directory tree, be a program launch pad, and so much more.
Pro User interface is extremely customizable
XYplorer's user interface can be customized in almost every conceivable manner, from size and placement of various frame elements, to fonts, colors, toolbar buttons, if you can think it, you can probably do it.
Pro Extensive metadata
Mark files with colored labels, tags, comments, as well as multiple columns with user-defined metadata for everything from ratings, urls, and whatnot.
Pro Custom columns
Create custom columns to display all kinds of info snippets or even interactive links and buttons.
Pro Customizable keyboard shortcuts
XYplorer is great for heavy keyboard users. Its many keyboard shortcuts are also fully configurable. Additionally, XYplorer offers multiple ways to navigate to file system using only a handful of keys. That said, one can do things with a mouse like press an icon in a custom column to run a script on the corresponding file or folder. Mousers are happy too.
Pro Portable file extensions
Associate file types with other portable applications on your USB stick.
Pro Developer is active in the forum as well
While other competitors only offer a "community" forum where the developers are absent, in XY's forum the developer answers questions personally, quickly, and consistenly.
Pro Easy to organize lots of files at once
Known as Branch View in XYPlorer. Select a folder or multiple folders and select Branch View to get a flat file view of the selected folder/s with files only, folders only or both. Alternatively, select Branch View to get a flat view of the current folder. Results can then be filtered, sorted, organised, moved, copied, renamed etc accordingly.
Extremely useful if you have a lot of files to organise.
Pro Faster than Windows Explorer ever thought of being
This is faster than Windows Explorer when combined this with TeraCopy. Currently, it is present in the right-click menu, but you can drag and drop it to copy with Windows File Explorer.
Pro Custom file and folder icons
Add a custom icon to a set of files or folders based on file type, location, name (or part of name) for example: all files named XYplorer to have 'icon x' or all folders that contain the word XYplorer in the name to have 'icon y', size, date, name length, path etc.
You can customize an infinite number of icons for an infinite number of files and/folders or even just a single one based on what ever combination you want.
No extra files are created like with other programs that place an icon in each directory. The customized icons are stored within the "Icons" folder of the XYPlorer directory while the list of customized file/folder patterns as well as which particular icon to point to are stored within XYplorer
It's set and forget as all file/folder icon associations are applied globally. Meaning that all new files or folders that match your predefined pattern or instruction if you like will automatically be displayed with your chosen icon.
Customized icons are also very very flexible. It's so easy to add, remove, change and fine tune your settings to your liking. To turn the customized icons on or off is simply a matter of pressing the handy toggle button.
Further flexibility comes with the ability to turn on or off individual custom icons with a simple tick box.
It is a bit of a learning curve to get the pattern (instruction to select certain files/folders to be associated with a particular icon) just right. But as results are immediately visible, it makes it easy to adjust accordingly to exactly what you want. There are some examples of these patterns included within the "Customize File Icons" UI or settings box to get you started by selecting the "I" button. A more extensive list is available in the XYPlorer help file.
Once you get the hang of it though, the same patterns can be applied to other customizations in XYPlorer for example color filters or Ghost filters.
Pro Quick audio preview
Can listen to audio files very easily with a single mouse click on the file icon. This includes FLAC support.
Pro Separate 32 and 64-bit context menus
This is very useful for accessing some context handlers or when using the portable version across several systems.
Pro Search and virtual folders
Its search ability and functions combined with a multitude of file actions and the ease of creating virtual folders is a major time saver.
Pro Long path names supported brilliantly
Windows File Explorer, over time, will eventually allow you to create path lengths, usually accidentally, that are "very long" (ie too many characters based on Windows standards).
And then, out of nowhere, you no longer have full functionality available to the directories and files in that long path.
- eg: you won't be able to open a file, or rename it, or copy it, or delete it, etc.
In order to regain full functionality available to the files/ directories in that "long path", you have to go and manually shorten the "long path" length by deleting characters in filenames, directory names, etc,
In other words, Microsoft will "allow" you to break the rules (.. ie in most cases without warning ), but then won't support the broken rules.
This is where XYPlorer is super useful -- especially when you move big chunks of data from A to B -- you no longer have to care about long path name issues.
Pro Community support
Extensive and active support forum with unusually quick, thorough, and friendly assistance.
Pro Folder sizes shown
Folder sizes and amount of files within the folders can be shown. This is very useful when trying to work out where the HDD space has gone.
Pro Per-user license
Just one license covers all of your computers.
Pro Clean, uncluttered interface
Clean and uncluttered interface, easy to concentrate on the files and folders that you need.
Pro Extremely versatile renaming.
Renaming can also be combined extremely easily in basic scripts for chaining and combining the strengths of the different types of renaming available. Can also rename based on metadata.You don't really need to "learn scripting" to chain a bunch of renaming commands. Multiscripts can even give you a menu of your chained renames - with nested menus if desired. It takes very little knowledge to be able to do this. One can even run such a script by drag and drop.
Pro Asynchronous copy and move operations
It's possible to queue copy and move operations so that multiple large copy/move operations don't interfere with each other (disk thrashing) and you can continue working with the program.
Pro Branch view
Can show all files in a folder and all of its subfolders at once.
Pro Preview files
From documents to audio and video. All files can be previewed from within the program and without the need to open other software packages. This is a very useful feature when working with multiple files.
Pro Supports correction of illegal file and folder names
Easily rename a folder to make it legal. Search for dangerous unicode characters. Rename all files to ASCII if you wish.
Pro Can use system, XY's custom copy routines, Fast Copy, and Teracopy interchangably without scripting
Can save any set of command-line options with a friendly label. Switching is as easy as right-clicking on a button.
Pro Can replace Windows Explorer
So that folders are automatically opened in a new tab of XYplorer rather than on Windows Explorer when called from other softwares.
Pro Nuke button
Files and folders can be "nuked" without needing to go through the recycle bin.
Pro Option to disable lazy drag-and-dropping
A good practice to improve your workflow and eliminate accidental unwanted file movings to places! Brilliant!
Pro Let's you select files by typing any word in the current directory
In windows file explorer when you want to select a file of the current directory, you have to type exactly the same name from the start of the file. In xyplorer you can type just part of it.
Ex: filename "resume_work"
With xyplorer you could just type work and it would show the file being marked (this is configurable).
A no-click preview to quickly see folder contents, pictures, videos, pdf, office files, archives (zip, rar...)...
Pro Dark mode
Latest beta-release introduces the "dark mode" that we already know from other software. It's auto-computed based on the current colour-settings and has 51 shades of darkness. Can be activated with a simple checkbox, no further tweaking required!
Pro FLAC as well as MP3 Support for Metadata and Previews
Most are MP3 only.
Pro Has more features than any other file manager
I have used almost all the file manager's available today including opus, speed commander, total commander, f man, xplorer2, tabbles, etc. but none of them can compare with it in easy usage, features or customization. The author updates it very frequently and has added many users requests.
Pro Exhaustive list of previewable archive formats
Works with help of 7zip, even a portable install works.
Pro Safety belts
Configurable options to prevent accidental file movements or deletions.
Pro Fast and powerful search
Searching is extremely fast and thorough - no matter if you're looking for items by name, attribute, content, or trying to find duplicates (either with a selected hash or byte-to-byte).
It allows you to search within your files, looking for specific terms, including wildcards and regular expressions.
It also supports regular expressions and filter/sort your search results by file size, file modification date, etc.
Can save complicated, often-used searches easily as "Search Templates" to reuse, tweak, or use in a script.
Can set to instantly narrow a list as you type, or highlight if you prefer, with multiple options such as "Prefer Beginning of Column" or use currently sorted column.
Supports Standard wildcards, Boolean, and Regex.
Pro Mouse Down Blow Up feature
Mouse Down Blow Up is a quick file preview that pops up when you mouse-down on the icon or thumbnail of a file, and disappears on mouse-up.
Con Many incompatibilities
A lot of tools don't actually work with Cygwin, and documentation is often sparse, so for many use cases, it's worth the small bit of extra effort to just run a full virtual machine.
Doesn't do internal multitasking so often you sit there waiting and waiting and waiting for the window to come back.
Con No FTP support
XY doesn't support FTP, SSH, FTPS, etc.
Con No working high-dpi support
XYplorer will not properly scale when working in a mixed configuration consisting of both Full-HD and high-dpi screens.
Con Often unresponsive or crashes
When using features like preview the or other "advanced" features the program often reacts very slow or even crashes completly.
Also when browsing many files the program does not like that and can really bog down.
Con No plugin support
Con Poor touchscreen support
While an option exists to scale up icon sizes to improve touchscreen support, the program does not pan and scroll intuitively.
Con Status bar not customizable
Users cannot customize the status bar.
Con No themes
You can customize toolbars, but there are no themes available.
Con Separate tree for each panel is missing
The possibility of having a separate tree for each of the 2 panels is lacking.
Con No support for Windows libraries
You can't access your libraries through this software.
Con The free version has been discontinued
Although it has just been discontinued as of 10th January 2017, it is still available for download at https://www.xyplorer.com/free.php.
Con Cannot display files as grouped
Especially in thumbs view it would at times be nice to be able to group the files in the display. Sometimes it might also be nice in others views as well.
XY is only able to sort the files in the display but not able to group, though it does support arbitrary sort order and advanced link types.