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Proto: Keyboard-Only File Manager & Application Launcher For Windows

If you watch a lot of movies, you must have noticed how actors using computers never seems to touch the mouse or trackpad, getting their jobs done in a jiffy using just the keyboard (The Matrix, anyone?). All that surely looks cool in films, but if you really like to get your tasks done in a quick and efficient manner, especially without using the mouse, then you should consider giving Proto a shot. Developed by Mieszko Lassota, this file launcher and management utility is reminiscent of the Windows CMD (Command Processor) utility. You can manage your files and launch applications using just the keyboard. According to the developer, it’s based on Humane Interface and is aimed at people who favor working using a keyboard over a mouse and value speed in everyday computer tasks. Although there is some sophistication involved during the first run, but once you get a hold of how it works, this nifty application will prove to be extremely useful.

It enables you to instantly move between directories, copy & move files, launch applications and files, search for files & folders, filter the search results, and copy path and files to the Windows clipboard etc. All you need is to learn some basic command usage and input methods to use the application at its full potential.

Proto sits in the system tray, allowing you to quickly open the main interface. The home screen looks just like Windows Command Line Interpreter, however unlike CMD, you can navigate between files and folder by simply using the cursor keys. You can show and hide the application window using the Alt + `  hotkey combination. It also lets you create tabs for different directories, a feature that works the same way as in most GUI-based file managers. Just press Ctrl + T to open a new tab. Likewise, you may create as many tabs as you want, and navigate between them using the Ctrl + Tab key. It’s worth mentioning here that everything in Proto supports hotkey combination. However, the developer has provided a complete list of shortcuts as well as screencast on a product page to let you easily understand the usage of the application. The Search function is pretty fast, for instance, if you want to go to System 32 directory, simply select your Windows installation directory and type Win (enter) then s32 (enter), and it will open Windows/System32 folder.


The application recognizes each alphabet separately during the file and folder search, thus when we type s32, it means something related to S and then something related to 3 and so on.  It also comes with a number of different themes, so if you don’t like the default skin, you can apply any theme of your choice using the Ctrl + F10 key.

Proto Theme

You may also create a new folder in any directory; simply hit Ctrl + N and enter the directory name for the new folder. Other noteworthy features include Regex Renaming to rename multiple files using regular expression, an integrated Calculator to perform basic and scientific calculations, file compression and decompression support using 7zip and Disk Space chart.

In a nutshell, Proto is a console-based file manager that helps you perform routine mouse intensive tasks using only the keyboard. The application works on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Download Proto

If you liked this application, you might want to look through our showcase of file management software.

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