File operations
Known limitations


Write programs that do one thing and do it well.
Write programs to work together.

Designed to offer appealing and straightforward interface to files. Presents many innovations to make most common tasks easy to execute. Leverages Windows shell and shell extensions remaining as simple as possible.


Most commonly used way to work in SurF is using File View mode:

File View

Default files sorting is by groups based on extensions. Inside each group sorting is based on file name. Default groups can be modified using File groups settings dialog. Besides standard icons for files, SurF makes icons from image files. File color specifies attributes such as Hidden, Compressed and Encrypted. Just created and changed files are highlighted with corresponding color in real time for 1 second.

Current directory is represented as " . ", parent directory is represented as " . . ". It allows to copy current/parent path to clipboard, view their properties, drop files on them.

To find file in current directory - quickly type several first characters of file name.

In Size View mode default sorting is by size on disk that takes into account NTFS compression, NTFS sparse files and disk cluster size. ~ symbol indicates that directory size calculation is in progress:

Size View

In Time View mode default sorting is by modification time. Current week dates are displayed in short form:

Time View

Image View mode presents image files thumbnails. Images are automatically rotated when EXIF orientation data is available. When Icons size is larger than 48, previews for some documents (e.g. video files) and directories are displayed:

Image View

All views are customizable: in View settings dialog you can select details, sort order, icons size and hidden files visibility; in Views manager dialog you can change view's name and icon, create and delete views, select default view.

Context menu for current directory can be invoked by right clicking on file list view's background. In details mode context menu can be also invoked by right clicking on columns title bar. Third alternative to invoke context menu is to press Shift + F10 or Application key when no files are selected.

Current directory context menu


It's possible to have several directories opened simultaneously. Each directory is represented as tab forming Tabs Tree. For better organization SurF can insert virtual tabs into the tree (such as "Common Files" in the screenshot). Double clicking on virtual tab makes it real.

Startup directories' tabs are bold and browsing inside startup directory creates new tab.

Tree Tabs

Besides view icon, each tab can display three following icons: icon - current file list operation is running in a background, icon - changes monitoring is disabled for file list, icon - checking for changes in subdirectories is enabled for file list.

To select directory for new tab using keyboard press Ctrl + N ("New - QuickPath..."). In Search field you can type for example csys32 to locate c:\windows\system32. First letter should be a drive letter.

To search only subdirectories of current directory enter .(dot) as first character. For example, when file tab shows c:\1 typing .45 will find 2\3\4\5.

The search is performed in a background. When a better path is found it replaces the current one. When the search is over the full path becomes bold. When no path was found and search is over a question mark is displayed.

To select directory for new tab using mouse invoke standard "Browse For Folder" dialog via "New - Browse..." toolbar button or menu item. If you have directory/file opened in another program or if you have path to directory/file as text string - copy it to Clipboard and create new tab via "New - from Clipboard" button or menu item.


File list view can be opened in separate window using Tab - Detach menu item. Separate window can be returned to tab using Tab - Reattach menu item.

File operations

To perform basic file operations such as copy and move use:

Copy to directory

NTFS directory links

This is an advanced feature that allows you, for example, to link CD drive letter U:\ to directory C:\CD - you will be able to access CD disks' contents browsing to C:\CD directory. Or you can link directory D:\Games to directory C:\Program Files\Games - you will be able to install games to C:\Program Files\Games directory with benefit that disk space for games will be used from disk D:\. NTFS doesn't support links to directories on network drives.

To create NTFS directory link in SurF: Copy source directory to clipboard (e.g. D:\Games), browse to link's parent directory (e.g. C:\Program Files) and select File - Paste NTFS link command. If you create or delete files in C:\Program Files\Games directory they will be created or deleted from D:\Games directory and vice versa.

Using File - NTFS properties dialog you can verify presence of the link and delete it (also note link overlay icon in file list view). Deleting directory link using NTFS properties dialog guaranties that files in source directory (D:\Games) remain intact. If you try to delete link directory as usual directory then files from source directory may be deleted as well. screenshot
screenshot Windows 7 and Vista use several special directory links for backward compatibility. E.g. C:\Documents and Settings points to C:\Users and access rights prevents applications to list contents of C:\Documents and Settings. SurF detects these special directories and when you try to browse into C:\Documents and Settings it creates new tab for C:\Users.

NTFS file links

This is an advanced feature that allows you to place links to one file from different directories. For example, you can have C:\Docs\readme.txt file and create C:\Favorites\readme.txt and C:\Public\please read.txt file links to it. Changing one of the files modifies all three of them. Deleting one of the files leaves two other files intact. NTFS allows file links only within same disk drive.

To create NTFS file link in SurF: Copy source file to clipboard (e.g. C:\Docs\readme.txt), browse to link's parent directory (e.g. C:\Favorites) and select File - Paste NTFS link command. To verify presence of file link you can use File - NTFS properties dialog (Number of links to file line). Also note link overlay icon in file list view.

NTFS symbolic links

This is an advanced feature that allows you to place links to file or directory from different locations. Symbolic link for directory behaves exactly as NTFS directory link plus it allows to create link to directory on network share. Symbolic link for file behaves more like NTFS directory link then like NTFS file link - if you delete original file all linked files become invalid. While NTFS file link works only within same disk drive, symbolic link for file allows to create link to file on different drive and on network share.

screenshot To create NTFS symbolic link use File - Paste symbolic link command. Windows 7 or Vista required plus SurF should be running as administrator or under standard user with Create symbolic links privilege enabled. Using File - NTFS properties dialog you can verify presence of the link and delete it.

NTFS alternate data streams

It's possible to store in one physical file several "logical" files. For example, one file silverbullet-003.mp3 may contain "main" audio content and "additional" information indicating that it was downloaded from Internet.

It's very easy to create test file with alternate data stream for yourself: type "echo my_data > test_file_name.txt:stream.txt" at command line. It will create seemingly empty "test_file_name.txt" file, but type "notepad test_file_name.txt:stream.txt" and you will see "additional" my_data contents.

NTFS properties dialog allows you to see all alternate data streams for a file or directory. Contents preview column shows first 50 characters of stream text. To view all text or binary data from the stream Copy stream file name to clipboard and run your favorite viewer passing stream file name as command line parameter.

File - Search dialog presents several options to locate files, dialog can be resized and maximized. Dialog doesn't block main file manager window and several Search dialogs can be opened simultaneously.

Search locations allows you to specify several directories (e.g. C:\ | D:\) or shell locations (e.g. My Computer | My Network Places\Entire Network) for starting search.

File name masks accepts *.txt type masks, file name fragments such as win, Perl regular expressions such as win.*[\d] to match winhlp32.exe and winnt256.bmp. Masks can be combined using | or & symbols representing OR and AND operations (e.g. *.exe | *.bmp & win will match Prairie Wind.bmp and winhelp.exe). To exclude certain files use ! symbol: !*.dll & !*.exe. It is prohibited to use ! and space symbols in mask.

File filters allows you to combine filter expressions using () | and & symbols. E.g. ((Modified > 7/21/2007 & Modified < 10/23/2007) | (Created > 7/21/2007 & Created < 10/23/2007)) & Attributes = Hidden will find hidden files modified or created between 7/21/2007 and 10/23/2007. Time string format allows you to omit seconds, minutes and whole time part. Special date strings Today and Yesterday can be used. Size modifiers KB, MB, GB and TB are available along with single letter equivalents (K, M, G and T).



Full text search is available if you have Desktop search system COM server installed (see Installation). Text content sample accepts single word, several words, exact phrase and Perl regular expression. Search on single or several words takes into account the morphology and syntax.

Found files list supports shortcuts for copy, move, delete, properties and run operations plus New - from selection (Ctrl+D) shortcut. The list scrolls automatically during search if no files are selected. You can reorder columns by dragging.

During search bold dots represent found and not yet processed directories (lighter dots are more recently found directories). Circles represent found and not yet processed files and displayed only when searching text. screenshot


SurF registers Win+S global hotkey for you to activate it at any time. Pressing hotkey when SurF window is already active minimizes it. Hot key is configurable via General settings dialog.

Editing favorites and startup directories you can drag rows with mouse. To delete row - select it by Shift + Space or by clicking on row header and then press Delete key. Use F2 key to edit cells.

Producing pictures icons is a slow process so, some limitations based on picture file size apply. Default limitations can be changed using Pictures icons settings dialog - increase max file size to show icons for more pictures, decrease size to show files faster. These limitations apply only to views with Icons size 16, 32 and 48.

Initial settings are read from xml files in "settings" directory or from "settings\settings.srfs" file that you can create using Save settings menu item. When settings are changed using "Settings" menu, then these custom settings are stored in user's profile directory and override initial settings from "settings" directory. Exact directory for custom settings is unique for each user and program install path. Usually it looks like "c:\Documents and Settings\USER_NAME\Local Settings\Application Data\IsolatedStorage\...\AssemFiles".

You can override general settings from command line taking parameter names from settings.xml file:
SurF.exe UseCustomColor=True CustomColor=Chartreuse
To backup/restore all settings or to transfer all settings from one computer to another use Save/Load settings menu items.


Command line parameters

You can open additional tabs at startup providing directory or file path as command line parameter. For example,
SurF.exe "C:\Program Files\SurF" C:\WINDOWS\Greenstone.bmp
opens one tab for C:\Program Files\SurF and one tab for C:\WINDOWS with Greenstone.bmp file selected.

Multi language interface

If your Windows interface is in Russian - SurF will also show its interface in Russian. Otherwise, interface will be in English.

Additional shortcuts

Copy Ctrl+Ins
Paste Shift+Ins
Next tab Ctrl+Tab
Browse to parent Backspace
Context menu Shift + F10
Application key

Access to network shares

After you enter server name or IP in Network server dialog (e.g. sv or or ::1) Select share dialog appears. Shares that you can't open look gray. You can select several shares to open at once.

Reconnect as button allows you to select alternative account for remote access. Password that you enter for the account is not saved anywhere on disk and erased from memory immediately after remote connection is established.

Connecting to Windows 9x computer with password protected share, select this share and check "Connect to selected share" before clicking Reconnect as.

Known limitations

1. "The Target Can Not Handle This Type of Document" warning using Send To.

"When you receive the error message, click OK. The file is saved to your My Documents folder or to the removable media." KB328856

2. When renamed file name is significantly longer than other names it may appear ending with ellipsis.

Workaround: Reopen this tab.

3. Can't drop delayed files on the SurF (e.g. files from zip archive or e-mails from Outlook).

Workaround: Copy delayed files to the Windows clipboard and then paste into the SurF.

4. Can't drop or paste files from the Windows Explorer's ftp browser.

5. Can't drag files from different directories in Search results list to Windows Explorer as shortcuts.

6. Can't use some characters (e.g. "(&<") for text search.

7. Can't display more than 1200 distinct thumbnails with maximal Icons size.

Workaround: Reduce Icons size.