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Windows explorer "plugin" for long path lengths

Jan 26, 2012 at 8:12 AM

Dear AlphaFS team,


your AlphaFS seems to solve the biggest Windows problem - the 248character path length restriction.


However I have not managed to enable your new apis for my windows explorer. How can I do this? Can you may supply an alternative windows explorer that can do this in combination with you AlphaFS?


I have tons of nested scientific files, which I really need to use from windows. The subst command is only a useless workaround, as I even run out of drive characters.


I hope you can tell me how I can enable the 32000 character path length for the windows explorer or any other program that can move files etc.


The \\?\ or \\?\UNC - in front of the path-workaround does not work at all.


Windows 7 SP1, 64bit

Filesystems: NTFS and ext4 (however I can also restrict everything to NTFS if necessary).


Thanks a lot,



Jan 26, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Hello Michael,

Unfortunately there is no such easy way in Windows to enable it's stock applications to work with Long Paths.

That would require lot's of libraries and software to be patched/rewritten.

Instead we can create a free and open source Long File Manager for Windows.

The easiest way would be to use mklink and junction commands to make shorter symbolic paths, or use any Linux Live Boot disks to do the needful mass copy files.

Jan 26, 2012 at 7:40 PM

Hallo normalex,


I guess the open source Long File Manager for Windows is just what I am looking for. How could that be done? I think I am not experienced enough - do you have any examples (maybe something similar already exists?)



Jan 28, 2012 at 5:53 AM

Can you please test this one, called Far Manager, it is a brain child of the creator of RAR archive.

The last time I checked it worked with long paths through dwarfing them, basically combining short 8.3 names. Nevertheless you still could reach quite far with it :)

Jan 28, 2012 at 3:12 PM


Dear Normalex,

thank you very much for the tip. I have tested the FAR manager and indeed this filemanager can create folders beyond the windows max_path_length limit. However you cannot open any files from the Manager directly (i.e. you cannot "double-click" a file since the File manager pretty much resembles very basic gui functionality (comparable to midnight commander).
So you cannot really use the deep folder structures you created with FAR, since you'll have to copy the file to a shorter folder name before you can open it in "normal" windows explorer then ...
I think with a bit of work and a nice GUI FAR could be a nice explorer, but the way it looks at the moment it is useless, as the only advantage it brings is that you can "rescue" files that have been "lost" deep inside a long folder structure.
Do you maybe know another explorer similar to this one? I am sorry - seem to be never satisfied with what you propose. 
Thank you very much in advance,
P.S. I really wonder that I am the first person to get really pissed about this ancient MS path_length_limit ???
Jan 28, 2012 at 3:37 PM

The two best replacements for Windows Explorer that I have found are xplorer2 and Directory Opus. I don't know if xplorer2 supports the extended file paths, but I'm guessing it very well might. I suggest you have a look at it. Personally I found Directory Opus to be the best explorer replacement I've found, and it is what I personally use. It can replace Windows Explorer fully and I never open Windows Explorer any more. This one does support extended paths, without a problem as far as I can tell. Perhaps there may be a problem launching an application for a specific file if the application itself does not support extended paths (which would probably be true for most .NET applications unfortunately). For example neither notepad nor Notepad++ correctly handles these long paths it seems.  So it is not just a matter of replacing the windows explorer unfortunately, and it is a major pain in the **** indeed.  But at least with Directory Opus I can manage these files and directories, and if the application supports it I should be able to open it by double-clicking the path.

The major drawback of Directory Opus of course is that it is quite expensive. Xplorer2 is pretty cheap though. Otherwise you could always start your own project, for example using AlphaFS ;)

Jan 29, 2012 at 11:30 PM

Hey decaf,

you're AWESOME!!!

I didn't know about Directory Opus, but it's amazing (and I haven't even tried xplorer2 yet). I am on a trial period now and yes you're right its quite some money, but at the moment it seems to be quite worth its money and I'll consider buying if I still like it after the evaluation period ends.
Thank you so much for pointing this out to me.
I'll keep you posted about my progress etc. And it seems that the long path is just one in a billion of features of this program to be discovered ;-). If it is so easy to replace Windows explorer, why does Microsoft still deliver Windows with this sorry excuse for a file browser? ...  well things I'll never understand ;-)
I will also try my "own" browser with AlphaFS - but that's just gonna be for fun, and results will come slowly as I can only work in my free time on this.
Have a nice evening,
Jan 30, 2012 at 5:01 PM

No problem, glad to be of help.

I discovered Directory Opus by pure coincidence. And as I see it, its only drawback is that if you install it and use it for the trial period, there is really no way you can go back afterwards. ;)

Do note that there are some third party products that can make it crash when populating the right-click context menu. I was about to dismiss it because I thought it was just a bad product before scanning the forums and finding out which application it was (something I didn't even know I had, and even less needed), and after uninstalling the conflicting tool (whatever it was, something to do with bluetooth) I've encountered no problems at all.

Just wonderful to finally have queued copy (so that it doesn't try to copy 15 files at the same time like Windows Explorer does) and being able to pin folders to the taskbar and much mroe. (Yes, I know the queued copy will appear in the Windows 8 explorer as well, but seriously, what took them so long?)

Feb 15, 2012 at 8:35 AM


For what its worth; I'm trying to convince the author of Better Explorer;

to integrate AlphaFS, let's see what happens...



Feb 15, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Yes I completely agree - if it's supposed to be a "Better" Explorer, it should fix its main shortcomings ;-)


I think he should be easily convinced, since it is a quite obvious problem.



Mar 19, 2013 at 7:18 AM
I have faced similar kind of problem.Long path tool will help you to solve.
May 1, 2014 at 7:47 PM
Hard links ... hard links can be used, in many cases, to circumvent the problem of getting access to files hidden behind deep paths.

How far has this project come, and do you guys need anyone else?
May 19, 2014 at 7:56 PM
Hi Comandovirus,

I have recently found this great library and I have integrated it into file manager I am working on to be able to support longer filenames.
You can find more details about it at
It is not yet officially out so if you would like to play with the beta send me request at betarequest[at]bit-commander[D0T]com and just mention that you have found it here.

Yomodo, Decaf, I don't see a way to contact you directly. I would like to send you the download link so you can check the program and see if the license is used correctly.

May 19, 2014 at 8:01 PM
Edited May 19, 2014 at 8:01 PM
milosp wrote:
Yomodo, Decaf, I don't see a way to contact you directly. I would like to send you the download link so you can check the program and see if the license is used correctly.
Thanks for letting us know. It's always great to hear when someone finds something you've been working on useful. As for the contact options, I have now updated my account to allow private messages.

Keep up the good work! :)