Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 79 / DECEMBER 1986 / PAGE 66

Norton Commander For IBM

Richard Mansfield

Requirements: IBM PC computer or PC compatible computers, with a minimum of 128K of memory.

There are many shell programs, software that sits on top of DOS and helps you interact more gracefully with your machine. File management shells are especially worthwhile for hard disks because they make it far easier to organize, maintain, and access hundreds of files, and to easily manipulate subdirectories.

The Norton Commander is such a shell, and it's an excellent, efficient program. It's one of those rare utilities that, once you've used it, you never want to be without again.

Perhaps its most outstanding feature is the "point and shoot" user interface. You generally maneuver around with the cursor keys, highlighting whatever you wish, and then select an action such as delete. While difficult to describe, it's an exceptionally intuitive, easy way to get a lot done very quickly.

For example, you can select all the files in a directory by hitting the plus key. Then, pressing F8 can delete all of them, or pressing F5 will copy them all. While the delete command, and some few others, have an "Are You Sure?" window, it's not obtrusive, and simply pressing ENTER carries out the command. The program is so well designed that it remembers where you left off when you move between directories. And it displays other kinds of built-in intelligence. It features a quick filename search where you hold down ALT and start typing the name. After a letter or two, the file is highlighted in the panel and ready to work with. And there's just the right balance between preventing you from accidents and preventing you from efficiency.

It offers a MOVE command (unfortunately missing from DOS) which copies a file and simultaneously removes it from the directory of origin. You can rename files, subdirectories, and directories by simply pressing a function key. Hidden files are displayed. Most features can be accessed with wildcards, and there is an excellent, built-in file editor and help system.

As you might expect from a program this well-thought-out, you have a number of options and can configure it to suit your particular needs. Screen colors, automatic user-defined menus, the prompt, and the function key window are all options under your control. Likewise, the two display windows which list your files can be turned on or off at will and can contain the filenames alone, names with size and date, or a description of the directory and the current status of the system. If you are RAM poor, there's an optional 14K loader that's the only thing resident. Hard disk users won't notice any appreciable difference between this mode and the fully resident version.

If you need the kind of help this program offers, you're unlikely to find better.

Norton Commander

Peter Norton Computing 2210 Wilshire Blvd. #186 Santa Monica, CA 90403 $75