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Definition: file manager

(1) The low-level file management handled by the operating system. See file system.

(2) Software that manages data files. See file management system.

(3) Software used to organize files on a storage device (hard drive, SSD, flash drive). The file manager displays the file/folder hierarchy, and it provides functions to create, copy, move, rename and delete folders as well as copy, move, rename and delete files. A file manager creates folders, not files; applications create files. When a file icon is clicked or tapped, the file manager launches the appropriate app to open and edit the image or document. See folder and files vs. folders.

Every OS Has a File Manager
In the first versions of Windows (Win 3.x), the file manager was appropriately named File Manager. It later became Windows Explorer, then File Explorer, commonly known as just plain Explorer. In the Mac, the file manager is part of the Finder desktop. See Win Explorer, Finder, Konqueror and file viewer.

Linux File Managers
Showing only folder icons in these examples, Linux file managers look a lot like the file manager in Windows and Mac. Ubuntu Linux is the large image (bottom), while MX Linux, Mint, Fedora, Solus and Manjaro versions of Linux are shown above (from top to bottom).

On Mobiles As Well
File managers are also available for smartphones and tablets, as in this popular app for Android devices.