Far Manager

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Far is my favorite shell. It is not only file/archive management, it is powerful editor, huge number of plugins, powerful macro engine.

First of all

There are two platforms (?)

  • x86 (32-bit binaries) it works everywhere, beginning from Windows 2000 SP4 with one hotfix.
  • x64 (64-bit binaries) it requires 64-bit OS.

And yes, plugins compiled for x86 does not works in x64 Far Manager and vice versa. You owe to use appropriate plugin versions.

Most developers creates binaries with obvious names.

This is the general mistake of new users. They install x64 Far Manager and try to use x86 versions of plugins. So, they asks ‘Why plugin does not appears in the list?’

IMHO, there is no considerable difference between them, but not every plugin has x64 version.

I’m using Far 3.0 x86 version (my primary OS is Win 7 x64).

There are three (already) branches of Far Manager

  • 1.x (closed) oldschool version. It is ANSI (OEM to be more precise), so it can’t deal with unicode characters out of system OEM codetable. However, some users believe ‘the best the enemy of good’ and do not switch to newer versions. All settings are stored in registry HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Far.
  • 2.x (closed). General difference - unicode support (file system, editor, viewer). There was API break, but 2.x natively supports most of 1.x plugins via internal plugin wrapper. All settings are stored in registry HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Far2.
  • 3.x (curren). General difference - Far Manager settings and native (3.x) plugins settings are stored in SQLiteDB. API was completely redesigned (and is not stable for current day). Many bugfixes and improvements. Far 3.x can still deal with ANSI plugins (from Far 1.x), but due to API break can’t work with ‘old’ unicode plugins (from Far 2.x).

There are several types of plugins

  • Panels. This is most common type. Examples:
  • C0 panel plugins. These plugins works in panels, but does not emulates virtual file system. They provide data for special ‘С0’ column for real file system:
    • ver_c0 - show versions for PE files (exe, dll, sys, ocx, …)
    • svn_c0 - revision and status, only svn 1.6.x
    • pdf_c0, html_c0 - show title of document
    • mp3_c0 - artist/title for MP3 files (ID1)
    • diz_c0 - descript.ion, files.bbs, etc.
  • Modal. In most cases these plugins executes some specific action. Examples:
    • Uninstall - display list of installed applications and allows Modify/Repair/Uninstall. This is the same as Windows ‘Uninstall or change a program’ but much faster and support fast filtering.
    • HexEditors - as is :)
    • Bulk file renamers
    • Picture viewers, Audio/Video players, yes, it is possible in console :)
    • Unicode CharMap
  • Editor related
    • Searching, sorting, filtering, line wrapping, syntax hilighting…
  • Non categorized. These plugins can’t be placed in specific category, for example
    • Regular Expression Search - it work in Editor and panels

1. Downloads / Installation

  • Download Full version from official site. Does not matter whatever you use - msi installer or 7z package.
  • (Optionally) update binary files with my Far3bis. List of improvements here. In breaf - improvements of plugin manager (AltShiftF9), optimization of C0 column.

After installing (unpacking) Far Manager you have such directory structure (by example of Far 3.x).

Names Purpose
.\Far.exe
.\FarEng.hlf
.\FarEng.lng
General Far Manager files - executable, help, language data
.\Addons Sample color schemes, tweaks, macros
.\Documentation\eng Some useful information, on english :)
.\Plugins Here, in subfolders, plugins are located

2. Install plugins to your’s mind

There thousands of plugins written for many years. There many sources, where you can download them.

Installing choosen plugin (in most cases) means create subfolder in ‘Plugins’ and unpack plugin distribution to this folder.

To make Far Manager load new plugins you may:

  • Simply restart Far Manager
  • or, for bis versions, press Alt+Shift+F9 in panels to open ‘Plugins configuration’ menu, and press Ctrl+R
  • or, navigate to plugin folder, type in command prompt load:plugin_file_name.dll and press Enter.

Examples

  • (Note, this plugin already included in the latest Far distro). You have downloaded FarColorer_far3_1.0.3.10.7z (syntax hilighting in editor). This archive already contans root folder ‘FarColorer’. So, just unpack 7z package to ‘Plugins’ and restart far. Note, this 7z package contains both x86 and x64 versions of FarColorer.
  • You have downloaded RegEdit3.1.1.36.2580.7z. This package does not have root folder, so create and unpack package files to Plugins\RegEdit. Note, this 7z package contains both x86 and x64 versions of plugin.

Main plugins sources

Developer sites

3. Help, FAQ, Documentation

Unfortunately for non-Russian speaking users, most of resources are on russian. However, you may use google translate, or ask competent users, for example, on official forum. Or, may be, on SuperUser.

4. Control

Far have oldschool and intuitive NC-like interface :)

Look on keybar press modifiers (Alt/Ctrl/Shift) and you’ll see function keys actions. Most useful are (in panels).

Key Description  
F1 Yes! Read it first. BTW, FarEng.hlf is a simple text file, you can open it in any editor.  
ShiftF1 Create new archive from selected files  
ShiftF2 Extract files from selected archive  
CtrlPgDn In most cases it is like as Enter, but generally, CtrlPgDn forces enter into archive, but it ‘execution’. Compare behavior for *.exe files  
F2 Configurable multilevel user menu  
F3, F4 File viwer and editor  
F5, F6 Rename or move. Use ShiftF5 or ShiftF6 to copy/rename single file/folder under cursor  
AltF6 Create hard or symbolic link. Also, F7 can create links to any folder  
F7 Create folder  
F8 Delete file/folder (to recycle, by default)  
ShiftDel Delete file/folder pass by recycle  
AltDel Wipe files/folder  
AltF8 Show history of executed commands  
F9 Pull down menu  
F10 Quit  
F11 Open list of plugins, available for current context  
AltF11 File viewer/editor history  
F12 Show screens (Panel/Editors/Viewers)  
CtrlG Group operations on files\folders  
Ins, Gray+, Gray-, Gray** Selecting/deselecting files **

This is very breaf list of key kombos, read F1 for more information.

5. Automation

One of most powerful options of Far Manager are Macros. There are two styles of Macro.

  • Sequence of recorded keypresses. This is very useful, when you need to repeat multiple times one routine operation, or for simplifying access to most useful operations.
    • For example, how to create oldschool keymapping - Esc turns panels on/off.
      • Press Ctrl+. (Ctrl and Dot on main keyboard) to start recording (red R lights in upper-left corner)
      • Press keys, the sequence: Ctrl+O
      • Press Ctrl+. again, recording stopped, Far shows small dialog ‘Press the desired key’.
        • Some ‘keys’ may be selected only from drop-down list. Choose Esc from there and press Enter.
        • If you press Ctrl+Shift+. instead of Ctrl+., you may change recorded sequence after choosing desired key.
      • Press Enter to confirm key selection.
    • If you want to use recored macro in future sessions, you owe to save it
      • Press Shift+F9 in panels and confirm saving
      • or, type in command line macro:save and press Enter.
    • If you do not need recorded macro anymore
      • Press (twice) Ctrl+. Ctrl+.
      • Choose macro key
      • Press Enter, confirm deletion
  • Scripts, written on Macro language. There are several ways to create such macros
    • Press Ctrl+. any keys (Space for example), Ctrl+Shift+. choose the key, and press Enter. Far opens dialog with recorded key sequence. You can modify it there.
    • Use MacroLib. This plugin (my choice for Far 2.x) simplify creation, editing, maintaning and calling Far Macros. Read plugin documentation for description of fml (text) file format.
    • Use *.farconfig files. Generally, these files may contain any Far Manager settings, not Macros only. Import them with command far.exe /import <farconfig-file>.