PowerDesk powers up with release 5

Loyal fans of PowerDesk have waited more than two years for an update, and Ontrack Data International is finally answering the call, releasing PowerDesk Pro 5 this week with improvements that continue to justify use of a third-party file manager.

PowerDesk Pro 5 is available now as a download for US$30. A free, feature-limited version is in development and should be available on the Ontrack site in about a month.

With the lag between updates, this once great file manager had fallen behind the times. Microsoft Corp. added .zip file support to Windows Explorer in the meantime, usurping an original PowerDesk feature. Explorer also supports thumbnail views, which was not a part of earlier versions of PowerDesk. But with the newly released PowerDesk Pro 5, this program enters the 21st century.

New views

PowerDesk has finally combined two of its most important--and once innovative--features: good file search capability and .zip file support. It didn't make sense that a program that could search for files by content and could also compress and decompress .zip files could not search the compressed files within the .zip files. When PowerDesk Pro 5 lists the files it has found, those within .zip files show up in blue.

Ontrack has improved searches in other ways. You now have the option to search by file type, with some file types offering their own unique search criteria. For instance, you can search .mp3 files by artist, title, or genre.

And once you find the MP3s you're looking for, you can program them. A separate application, Playlist Editor, lets you create and edit standard MP3 playlists, which can be played on most hardware and software MP3 players.

PowerDesk Pro 5 offers thumbnail viewing, showing you a small view of every picture file (other files appear as icons floating in white space). Thumbnails are an absolute must for organizing photos.

But what about organizing files that don't offer pictures or sound? PowerDesk Pro 5 provides such tools as well. Hover your mouse pointer over a file, and up pops such information as the file's size and various dates. It's like having the advantages of Explorer's Details view without the ugliness. The information includes PowerDesk's own Notes, which are editable descriptions you can add to files. You can even change a folder's icon color if that will help you keep organized.

Configuration options

Besides being available as a download, PowerDesk Pro 5 can be ordered for snail-mail delivery from Ontrack for the same $30 price, plus $3 for postage and handling.

Unfortunately, Ontrack's SystemSuite program, which comes bundled with PowerDesk Pro 4, will continue to come bundled with PowerDesk Pro 4. Ontrack does not plan to change that bundle. SystemSuite users, like everyone else who has bought PowerDesk Pro 4, can upgrade to version 5 for $20.