List all files in a directory

March 3, 2008

One of the failings of Windows—in my opinion—has been the lack of any sort of facility to get a list of all files in a directory. Yes, you can get a list from a command line, or use bundled utility software that fills in all sorts of practical gaps in using Windows Explorer.

But what if you just want a list of the files and don’t want all the other fluff that comes with the bundled utilities? And what if you want to be able to easily sort the list, perhaps to find duplicates? There are several ways of achieving this, some much more clumsy and limited than others:

  • Use a screen capture program to capture an image of the file directory; some, like SnagIt (http://www.techsmith.com), have the ability to capture scrolling windows, so at least you’ll get them all at once instead of cobbling together screen shots in a graphics editing program. Problem: The images are just that—static images. You have your list, but you can’t do anything with it, like sort it. You can look at it or print it out, but that’s about all.
  • Use the Command line to send a list of the files to a text file. Problem: The list then has to be imported into Excel or similar to be of much use, and invariably you have a bit of fiddling to do to get the information in the correct columns. You can print it out from the text file, but it looks pretty awful.
  • Use a small utility built to do just this—and only this. One that was recommended on one of my technical writing lists recently was Directory File Listing for Windows Excel (http://www.finrepinc.com/prod02.htm). Lisa G recommended it highly on her first try when she produced an Excel spreadsheet of some 3500 files in a very short time. I downloaded it and ran it against one of my directories—it took 13 seconds to find and list some 3750 files in one folder and its subfolders (searching subfolders is optional). It’s not a pretty program, but it sure works well! And being free and small (435KB), it’s worth adding to your list of “must have” utilities. Actually, it’s not a program at all—it’s an Excel macro.

Anyone else got any recommendations?

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