What is Software Spotlight?

Software Spotlight is an area where we can give some quick recognition to useful software that you may not have been aware of. Sometimes it is a result of lackluster PR, sometimes good software just falls between the cracks, but there are times when good titles get overlooked.

When we find a title that deserves some attention, we'll highlight it here in this space in the hopes that users everywhere will be able to spread the word. In this entry, we'll take a look at one of the very best programs out there - one that deserves much more attention than it has been getting. If you agree and find it useful, please spread the word and let fellow users know about so that it gets the recognition it deserves.

PowerDesk 4: Never Use Windows Without It

Many users have never really gotten used to Windows Explorer. In fact, managing files seemed a lot easier back in the Windows 3.1 days, when you had your management windows side by side and could easily and quickly drag and drop files all over the place. But with Explorer, you had the "unified window" theory, and for many of us, it was more confusing than it was worth. Unfortunately, it was all that many users had, since Norton and PC Tools file managers has been dropped by Symantec. Nature, however, abhors a vacuum, and luckily a great product came into being that filled the void.

PowerDesk 4 is an outstanding file management utility from Ontrack Data International that in its basic version, just happens to be completely free to anyone who takes the time to download it. Sounds too good to be true? In this case, it isn't. What's the catch? They have a Pro version with a few more features for a fee. Ah Hah! That must be it - they get you hooked and then nail for a bunch of cash, right? Wrong. Even the upscale Pro version is less than $20 - a heck of a bargain by anybody's standards.

So just what does PowerDesk 4 have to offer? First of all, it offers a very flexible interface to access files and folders on any system drive. You can have file panes side by side or top and bottom, depending on your preferences. You can activate a file viewer directly in the interface that lets you get a quick look at files before opening them. You can select files by a variety of different criteria as well as quickly copying the file names and path as text entries into the clipboard. You can customize the view with a wide variety of options and even take advantage of some of the numerous built in tools, such as formatting or copying disks or finding and comparing files and folders. The options are fairly staggering when looked at in their totality, particularly when you consider all of this can be had for the cost of a simple download.

PowerDesk 4 (continued)
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • len@lgrossman.com - Friday, November 26, 2021 - link

    I just got a new PC running Windows 11. I hate the file explorer. When I was straightening out my office I happened to come across the install disk for Ontrack's Powerdesk 4. I installed it and it was wonderful out of the box. I was able to change the font size in dthe tree structure so that my ancient eyes could read it. But it only ran once. Once I closed it I couldn't run it any more (I was able to run the excellent file finder PDFind directly from the .exe file.) Is there any way to solve this. ?
  • KJB - Sunday, February 20, 2022 - link

    How wonderful that this old article still accepts comments!
    I don't have a direct solution. But a related observation which might (just might) point to a solution. When I used Windows Vista back in the day, I had Powerdesk 6 (free version) as my file manager. In Windows 10 it turned out not to work. Surprisingly though, Powerdesk 4 did work! (This was also a free version, for which I had kept the install file.). So for Win 11 maybe try other vintage versions of Powerdesk, if you have or can find any, one of them might work. (I have version 4 and version 6 install files.)
  • New_Guy - Thursday, October 20, 2022 - link

    Power desk didn't work for me on a Windows 11 laptop UNTIL I went to C:\Program Files (x86)\Ontrack > right clicked on PDExplo.exe > Properties > Compatibility Tab > "Run this program in compatibility mode for: and selected anything other than Windows 95, or Windows 98/Windows Me. Result: XP, Vista and Windows 7 all worked but I ended up selecting Windows 8 cuz it was the most recent OS they had listed there.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now