There is nothing like being able to use one application or interface to do most of your work on your Computer. Instead of needing to bounce back and forth between applications, I'm always looking for shortcuts to get from point A to B in the least amount of time.
One method that I have been using for a long time, is to use Firefox for browsing my hard drive (or mapped drives) and open files without needing to use Windows Explorer or an application.
This little trick, known as "File URL" format, allows you to browse files and directories on web servers instead of using other known protocols such as FTP. Although it's cumbersome to use on web servers, it works great on you PC. Best of all, the functionality is already built into Firefox.
To browse your hard drive, for example on a Windows Operating System such as XP or Vista, just type:
NOTE: In the below screenshot the path changes to the "File URL" format automatically.
From here, you can navigate the file system, by clicking on folders as if you were using Windows Explorer and navigate around. Or, if you know the full path to a folder, you can enter it directly in Firfox's address bar shown below:
You are not limited to browsing just local drives. You can browse other Computers either by first mapping a drive and using the drive letter, or by share name.
To connect to a share, just type the computer name followed by the share name:
NOTE: If the share is password protected or the Everyone group does not have share access, you will not be able to connect and browse the share using Firefox.
While browsing files systems is convenient, opening files is also possible. As long as Firefox file type associations exists, you can read text files within the browser window:
When clicking on other file types, such as Microsoft Office, Open Office documents, PDF files, etc.., if the extension is loaded in Firefox, you will be able to browse the file with in the browser window. Otherwise, the Open dialog box will launch with the application selected, allowing you to view the file in it's application.
TIP: Don't forget, since you are using a browser, you can bookmark folders and shares the same way you bookmark websites!