About Directory Opus

As a part-time geek, I spend a lot of time handling files—perhaps more time than on any other computer task. I don't buy a whole lot of software for personal use. But there is one program I do buy, and that program is always running: Directory Opus (also known as "DO", "Dopus" or simply Opus). It replaces the default file manager that comes with Windows, the horrible program known as Windows Explorer. Considering how much time I spend looking for files, moving files, renaming files and uploading files, Directory Opus is the ultimate productivity application. In a way, it amazes me that it is not more popular than Photoshop.

Opus is a bit like a mother.
My love for Directory Opus is not the kind of love that gets triggered when an application saves your day once a year and you're suddenly moved to exclaim: "I love this program!" No, it's not like that. I use Opus so much that I forget I love it. In that sense—but only if you're in the mood for a corny metaphor—Opus is a bit like a mother.

This website is not so much intended to convince you of the benefits of Directory Opus (though if you've never tried it, I hope it will do that). What these pages aim to do is to help you get the most out of this marvelous app and to turn you into the Superman (or Superwoman) of file management.

By the way, if you don't yet own Opus, you can try the full version for thirty days: just click the link on the right, then switch from the "Buy" page to the "Download" page. And if you are ready to buy it, the coupon in the right-hand column will save you eleven percent.

I read the 714-page Manual!

For my first four years on Opus, I used it as a dual-pane file manager. I also often took advantage of the "flat view", which lets you pierce through folders with x-ray vision and see all the files in a folder's subfolders. Apart from that, I missed out on lots of great features: I just didn't have the courage to dive into the documentation and the settings menu.

For those who have no time to read the 700-page manual: a guide showing how to achieve a beautifully balanced set-up.
When I upgraded to Directory Opus 10, I decided to invest quite a bit of time into exploring my luxury file manager. For the first time, I dived into the program's 714-page manual, and read it cover to cover. Surprisingly, it was really rich reading. The program had many features that I had never suspected—some useful to me, some less. Reading the manual was a big job, and I thought it would be nice to share what I'd learned to spare others the same effort.

Since then, I've updated the website for every major release of Opus.

I hope this guide will help others who might be on the same track, so that instead of using Opus at ten percent of its potential like I did for so long, they can enjoy a killer set-up soon after they install it. As I discover more Opus "secrets" with the release of each beta-version, I keep updating the guide—and its custom toolbars, which are my pride and joy.

All this being said, I don't consider myself to be an Opus expert. Such experts do exist, and they are a precious and wonderful breed. Which brings me to…

A Word of Gratitude to the Opus Community

I want to acknowledge that assembling the information on these pages would be impossible without the help I receive on the amazingly helpful Opus forum, both from Opus developers and from ordinary users who generously share their insights. A special mention goes to Leo Davidson, who relentlessly answers questions and whose post count on the forum had shot over the 30,000 mark the last time I checked.

I should add that the forum covers a wide range of topics not discussed here. We all have different needs, and I am constantly surprised to learn about the different ways in which some people use Directory Opus.

The Dear Opus Interface to Directory Opus

Directory Opus is designed so that you can customize it to your heart's content. With that in mind, it ships with toolbars that are fairly plain.

directory opus 12 default interface The default interface

If you're like me, on the image above you may not immediately know how to switch to flat view mode or grasp the meaning of the various icons. This encourages you to dig into the program's bottomless pool of rich features to bring the ones you like up to the surface, building your perfectly customized interface as you go.

But what if you don't have time to explore the program's astounding feature set and endlessly tinker with your toolbars? This website offers you a different starting point: the Dear Opus interface.
Full-featured, the Dear Opus interface is an easy starting point .
The basic idea is that all the features that regular users are likely to use are in plain sight, right there on the toolbars. Big suggestive icons tell you exactly what the buttons are supposed to do. From these buttons, logical pull-down menus dig down into related features. And powerful keyboard shortcuts (neatly organized into themes on the shortcuts page) help you put on the turbo.

directory opus optimized interface (Please don't focus on the colors as you will choose your own.)

Here's an analogy. In 1989, abandoning my good friends Lotus 1-2-3 and Multiplan, I converted to the new hot-rod on the block, Excel. When Microsoft rolled out the ribbon interface in 2007, as an old-school power user with complex shortcuts programmed deep into my fingers' muscle memory, I was a bit lost. What I didn't understand then is that with the ribbon interface, a lot of people who had been "average users" saw their Excel skills soar, because many functions they had never used had become accessible within a couple of clicks.

Another thought: on Lynda.com, there are Illustrator training videos by Deke McClelland. The first thing Deke shows you is how to configure your shortcuts and default workspace. That really resonates with me. In my mind, with any piece of software, properly configuring the program is half the secret to becoming a power user.

This site should go a long way to help you build your own "killer interface".
Of course, everyone has different needs. The Dear Opus interface is only one way to work: If you and I live on different planets when it comes to workflow, maybe you'll want to start from scratch. Even if we have similar workflows, you'll probably want to tweak Opus to suit your exact needs.

The copious feedback I've received tells me that for many users, the Dear Opus configuration is a great starting point. I have installed Opus on the machines of friends who are not so agile with computers. They love it, and they get to perform file operations you would not expect from non-geeks.

I hope these pages help you derive as much pleasure out of Directory Opus as I do.



 A Tour of the Dear Opus Interface

1-10 of 21 Threads
Simon Kronberg – Sweden
August 01, 2014 - 03:44
Subject: I can not thank you enough

Hi there! Thank you so much for doing this guide! It's just wonderful and now I can actually use Windows productively. I ususally just get sick of it and go back to (insert Linux distribution that I like at the time), but this is a major game-changer! Let me know if you have a PayPal account or something going on as I'd love to throw some money in your general direction for your hard work. Thanks again and looking forward to what you're gonna cook up for DOpus 12.
Marv – Cuenca, Ecuador
June 30, 2014 - 04:56
Subject: Terrific resource

I have used your customizations for a long time, and think that they are great, but your site is much better than I remember it. Thanks for all the hard work you have obviously put into this. DO is overwhelmingly complex, and you have distilled much of it's useful power for those of us who do not have the time to read 714 pages. Great Work!!
Marty Brown – Northern California
July 26, 2013 - 10:06
Subject: Your site

I am blown away by the depth of resources you have provided here. I am a new Opus user after too many versions of PowerDesk which have burned a hole in my retinas with the imprint "PowerDesk is not responding. "

Thanks for all the hard work that went into these tutorials and guides.
Reply to Marty Brown
July 26, 2013 - 13:14

Thank you for your kind feedback, Marty---delighted to hear that the site is serving its purpose. Warmest wishes, -Andy
Rennie – Blue Mountains Sydney
July 16, 2013 - 11:20
Subject: Great new revamp of site

Hi Andy, I like the new layout - looks very modern and up to date.
Reply to Rennie
July 16, 2013 - 11:27
Subject: RE: Great new revamp of site

Hi Rennie, Thank you! It was a lot of work, but now it will be easier to update. I'm especially pleased with the shortcuts section. Wishing you a fun week, Andy
Diego – Miami, Florida
November 19, 2012 - 19:59
Subject: Wow, thanks

Andy, thank you so much for taking the time to write this. Where do you get the time? You have changed my experience with Opus, thank you so much for your kindness. One area that I thought was missing was a note about the various options for locking tabs: unlocked, locked, locked (allow folder changes) and locked (reuse unlocked tab). It's not clear what these actually mean. Regardless, amazing job, thanks.
Reply to Diego
November 20, 2012 - 07:54
Subject: Re: Wow, thanks

Hi Diego, thank you for your very kind message! Where do I find the time, you ask… Great question, I wish I knew. For me Opus seems to have turned from a productivity tool into an obsession, which can make me wonder if I'm really more productive. (Yes, definitely. Having fun with one's obsessions is part of it. ) You're right about locked tabs, thank you. I rarely think to use them so I hadn't mentioned them, but they've now been added to the Interface Setup page. Wishing you a fun week, -A
David – UK
April 28, 2012 - 23:31
Subject: Fantastic Guide!

Hi Andy, I've been using DOPUS for a few years now and hadn't found half the suggestions you have offered! Thank you so much for providing this excellent detailed article to enable access to so many of the available, but 'hidden' features of the best file manager for Windows!
Andrew – London, UK
April 13, 2012 - 00:04
Subject: Brilliant guide!

What a fantastic resource. I've been using DOpus for a year or so on the PC (last time was on the Amiga… ) and have just upgraded to v10 and learned loads in an hour or so! I agree especially about how the interface can transform efficiency. I must come back and read more.
Gary Cota – SE Pennsylvania, USA
March 13, 2012 - 06:29
Subject: KUDOS and Thanks

I also am a long time user of DirOpus but didn't really grasp how much power this application truly has. Your tutorial has been of great value to me on a number of levels. Thank you very much for the hard work you've done putting it together and for sharing it with all of us.
Reply to Gary Cota
March 13, 2012 - 08:30
Subject: Re: KUDOS and Thanks

Thank you for your kind message, Gary, I'm delighted to hear that the page is serving its purpose and appreciate your encouragements.
Nick – Melbourne
February 12, 2012 - 22:58
Subject: This page

I find it hard to read when the back ground is purple. Could you please change it? Also I look at it in chrome and the 10% off banner keeps blocking the text I read as follows me around. Also I copied and pasted this page into Word 10 but was unable to remove the purple back ground color so any advice would be good I don't mind doing this, if you want to keep the page this color. Thanks for the website, Opus maybe good but it is shocking for making it easy to start using, and it is very expensive, so should have easier to use documentation, like a screen dump of the main page and numbers of each part and an explanation of each part. And why is it so hard to copy and paste and have pc shut down after it is finished, it should be just a mouse click under unattended. Thanks again for a great web page.
Rennie – Blue Mountains near Sydney Australia
January 25, 2012 - 10:28
Subject: Update Log

Hi Andy, I have found your guide invaluable and it has unlocked DOPUS for me. Great work!
I have a suggestion: as you update the web page it would be helpful to note the change date towards top of the page. That way those of us that did print off/pdf the page will know if it is out of date.
It is also a long page and it might be more accessible if major sections appear on their own dedicated page.
Thanks again Rennie
Reply to Rennie
January 25, 2012 - 20:53
Subject: Re: Update Log

Greetings Rennie,
Nice hearing from the Bluies, I am often nostalgic of Wollemi and Kanangra National Parks not far from you. Thank you for your kind message and great suggestions. When I have more time I will look into breaking the page into easier-to-digest sections. For the date... I can try, but from experience I am really bad at updating 'last updated' flags. Will try to think of something though.
Wishing you a beautiful evening,

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