Creating a list of a folder’s contents in Windows is very easy. All you have to do is fire up the Command Prompt and enter a simple command: dir > FILENAME.txt.
Doing so runs the command dir but instead of echoing it in the command prompt window it redirects the output into the file filename.txt.
The resultant text file may be sufficient for most people, but if you have a ton of sub-folders and files you may want something better.
I’d recommend using DirLister, an open source directory printer. I have been using the application since version 1 (still have v 1.0 installed), when it could only save the list in HTML and TXT formats.
DirLister is now in beta version 2. I tested it a few months ago and found it to be very different; in a good way. It had a better interface with a lot more options.
Here’s a comparison screenshot to show you what I meant.
DirLister Interface and basic usage
There are 4 tabs in DirLister: Input, Output, Log and About. You will only be working with the first 2 of these almost exclusively. Use the “Select folder” button in the Input tab to navigate to the folder that you wish to print. Now, head to the Output tab and choose the folder in which the output file should be saved.
Tip: DirLister supports drag-and-drop for file selection.
The Start button (which is persistent across tabs) can be used for initiating the directory printing process: wait for it to complete.
The Output tab has a pre-enabled option to open your output file its corresponding app after it is created. You can disable this option if you want to. For e.g. The HTML option which is the default one, opens the file in your web browser.
The Input tab has options to include hidden/system files. You can set the program to print sub-folders and their contents using the Recursive mode. There are a couple of search filters (wildcards and Regex). as well to support advanced searches, e.g. when you want to print only the list of files in the PNG format, add *.PNG to the wildcard.
Tip: You can set any wildcard for the extension you want.
The Output tab allows you to print the list in 6 formats: HTML, TXT, CSV, XML, JSON and MD.
Tip: You can choose more than one format to print the output in.
The output file can be customized slightly. By default, it includes the filenames, the file size and the full path of the folder. However, you can choose to disable the file size option. Other options that you can toggle in DirLister include the created/modified date and the media info (e.g. resolution, frame rate, audio bit rate, sample rate)
DirLister 2 is portable, but you can enable the context-menu for Windows File Explorer, from the Output tab. It does have some limitations, the most notable of which are the filters. These are completely disabled when you use the DirLister context-menu. For best results, I recommend setting the default options of the program before using the menu.
When the menu option is enabled, open File Explorer and right-click on any folder. Select the DirLister (list files) option. It will create the output file and open it in the corresponding application (if you have the option enabled). You can optionally enable the “Open UI” option to display the program’s interface, instead of letting it silently create the list when you use the context menu. Another option which you can toggle, is the “Show progress window” when the list is being created.
If you’re looking for a file comparison program, Martin has written about a few here. Karen’s Directory Printer is another brilliant application which you can use for printing a folder’s contents. But it has a lot more bells and whistles than DirLister offers.
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