File Management With Nexus File
Hands-up if you hate Windows Explorer. OK, keep them up. Now hands-up if you hate Finder. OK, that’s everyone reading this I presume. I'm always slightly surprised when I see people using standard OS file explorers. Admittedly, they might have improved since the last time I spent much time with them, but over the years I’ve tried a number of different programs to take over these duties and can’t imagine going back to vanilla. You can put your hands down now.
Weapon of Choice
I've tried out quite a few replacements, but have come to rest on exclusively using NexusFile by Xiles, a donationware Windows Explorer replacement. It's got a ton of features, but my favourite, daily-used ones include:
- Persistent tabbed browsing
- Favourites list
- Text colouring by file extension
- Skin support
- Work folders
- Favourites list
- Dual windows
- File commenting
- .wav file preview
- FTP support
- Extensive and easily searchable keyboard shortcuts
- Call cmd line and run programs from keyboard shortcuts and footer UI
The .wav preview can be a bit flaky depending on your soundcard and current sample rate settings, but does provide a quick means to quick check a sound without having to open it elsewhere.
Thanks to the intuitive keyboard shortcuts I tend to navigate NexusFile using only the keyboard, this includes creating folders and file renaming. Combined with shortcuts to jump to various work folders I find I can get to anywhere I want with a few keystrokes. No faffing around expanding, minimising or scrolling a sidebar list of favourites.
One of the great timesaving features is the ability to run batchscripts from a keyboard shortcut. This allows me to do things such as copy FMOD output files into a working game build folder with zero navigation required. Just focus the NexusFile window, hit the keyboard shortcut and the files will be copied. Of course, I could automate that process in other ways, but in some instances I prefer deliberate actions when copying into a build folder.
As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t use the standard NexusFile themes, but instead use the fantastic Pixel Skin by Hora-Hora . As well as being dark, clear and easy on the eye, this theme has the best text colouring I’ve ever come across. Using the inbuilt ability to change text colour by file extension, it is incredibly easy to discern different file types within the same folder, so much so that I have permanently turned off file and folder icons.
Another feature worth mentioning (I’m trying to keep this short), is the ability to add comments to individual files. I'm sure I could make more of this feature, but for the most part I use it to attach notes to audio files in my Scratch and Backlog folders (I'll cover these in a future blog post). These notes tell me what state the sounds are currently in - do they need post-processing, if so what, do they need metadataadding etc. It can also provide a means to attach notes to recordings quickly without having to get into a BWF editor. Later on I use these comments to inform the BWF description, for instance what was the mic placement.
I have also used this file commenting system to mark out favourites (great when you're sorting through screenshots folder of screenshots) and also to provide a description of what the contents of a batch file. Last but not least, if you're like me, and have a massive library of Reaktor ensembles, this can be a good way to label them so you know what they each do.
Boring But Important
I realise that file explorers aren't exactly the most fun aspect of sound design, but they are one of the most persistent pieces of software you will use, regardless of your craft. It's worth your time to find one that suits your needs and customise it to your particular working methods.