In the world of utilities there are some items that are just invaluable to have; for many of us one of those items includea a file manager. Sure, a file manager is nowhere nearly as sexy as an application that can turn phone functionality on or off depending on where I’m at in the world, but it is still an extraordinarily useful part of the swiss army knife that is the Android device.
Initially released to the world earlier this year, Solid Explorer has been making the rounds in the Android circles for a few months now – and with good cause. While there are more than a few file managers to select from in the Android ecosystem (including the venerable Root Explorer, EStrong File Manager and Astro File Manager) there are not a whole lot of them that take on the task of looking good whilst managing your files. Am I saying that Root Explorer is ugly? No, of course not. In fact it’s quite honestly my first choice when it comes to needing quick access to files. Besides, they do say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and looks aren’t everything.
Still, sometimes it’s nice to have an eye-pleasing application whenever you need to get some files under control on the go. That is where Solid Explorer comes to the forefront. When you initially install the application, you are presented with a series of slides that introduce you to the features it provides (as has become somewhat commonplace in many Android applications these days). It’s highly recommended that you take the few minutes it requires to read what the developer has in those slides, as there is some good information to be had.
Once you’ve finished with the introductions, you will find that you’re presented with the contents of your SDCard in a neatly organized detailed list. With nice, large, easy to digest icons it is fairly easy to identify what the contents of each file are – at least what type of contents the file holds anyhow. The only files that get actual thumbnail previews are images and videos, but that’s to be expected in an application of this type and caliber.
Solid Explorer includes the ability to browse the contents of ZIP, TAR (both gzipped and bzipped) and RAR archives, so there’s no more needing to extract the contents and taking up even more space on your device. It’s also possible to create both ZIP and TAR files as well, making it easy to ship files off either via email or place them somewhere in the cloud. Speaking of the cloud, you will also be able to browse both your Dropbox and Box accounts from within the app seamlessly.
If you happen to have folders that contain a large number of files that are named similarly (such as your camera folder), then you can take advantage of Solid Explorer’s ability to filter the list of displayed files. This makes it very easy to select a large number of files (either by tapping the icon or using the select all icon along the bottom of the screen) for creating an archive file (what the developer has chosen to refer to ZIP or TAR files as). This feature alone makes it worthwhile to have Solid Explorer on my device.
Another very useful feature of Solid Explorer will be very familiar to those who have previously used Midnight Commander: the double pane. While only a single pane is visible in portrait mode, you can swipe the screen to access the second pane on the right hand side (or vice versa, of course). This makes copying/moving files from one location to another a breeze: just drag your file(s) to the edge of the screen to move them over to the second pane. If you feel the need to see both panes at once then you can do so by placing your phone in landscape mode, although that does seriously impact the number of files you can have on screen at once.
Along with being able to browse your Dropbox and Box accounts, you can also access FTP, SFTP and SMB/CIFS clients. While the “cloud” services aren’t saved as bookmarks (they are still easily accessed via the Jump->Network menu), the FTP/SMB locations will be saved for you to access via a Bookmark menu (located in Jump->Bookmarks). You can also add any other file folder on your device to the Bookmark menu by long-pressing on a folder and choosing to bookmark it.
Probably the most unexpected feature that I found in Solid Explorer is located in the menu and called “File Sharing”. Naturally the first thing that popped into my head was Android’s native share menu. I could not have been more incorrect. Solid Explorer has a built in FTP server as well, which after opening the file sharing menu made sense. When you turn on the FTP server, you are given instructions on how to access the files as well as can set the directory root to be shared and password protect it.
Solid Explorer is still being worked on, hence the Beta in the name that I have left off. However, I haven’t found a whole lot at fault with the application and will most likely keep it on my device as I find it to be an extremely useful tool. It is currently available for free on the Google Play Store, though the developer has expressed an interest in charging for it once it leaves the beta state. Until then, you should check out the application to see if it proves useful in your daily activities.
Solid Explorer Beta is currently available for free on Google Play