Use File Explorer in Windows 10

Edited by Jay, Maria Quinney

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File Explorer is no doubt one of the most accessed applications on any computer running the Windows operating system. Included in every version since Windows 95, File Explorer (or Windows Explorer) has given users a central location where they could quickly view and manage all files on all available hard drives and connected peripherals.

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Copying, moving, grouping, renaming, and deleting files is typically managed using the File Explorer application. In addition to providing a structured file viewing and organizing platform, Windows Explorer is also where the operating system's search function resides. Users can look for files and folders by entering search strings or even extension types. The search option in File Explorer is quite handy, especially for users with multiple drives or partitions.

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In the following Windows 10 File Explorer tutorial, we're going to walk through everything from customization to shortcuts. For this article, we used a Sager laptop running Windows 10 Professional.

Ways to Access File Explorer in Windows 10

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There are several ways to launch File Explorer with some are quicker than others. Below we'll show you a few ways to open the File Explorer app, as well as creating a few shortcuts.

  1. 1
    To create a new shortcut to File Explorer, right-click anywhere on the desktop, then select "New" > "Shortcut".
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  2. 2
    When the Create shortcut window opens, type: "C:\Windows\explorer.exe" (without the quotes) and click "Next".
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  3. 3
    Finally, enter a name for the Explorer shortcut, then click "Finish".
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  4. 4
    Now you have File Explorer shortcut directly on your desktop.
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  5. 5
    With a File Explorer window open, right-click on "This PC", then select "Pin to Start".
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  6. 6
    Now when you launch the Star Menu, you'll have a Windows Explorer tile for quick access.
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  7. 7
    With an Explorer window open, right-click the icon in the taskbar, then select "Pin to Taskbar".
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  8. 8
    This will create a shortcut right on the taskbar, giving you another fast way to launch File Explorer.
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  9. 9
    One of the quickest and easiest ways to launch Windows Explorer is with the dedicated shortcut. Press the Windows key + E to open a File Explorer window.
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  10. 10
    You can also start Windows Explorer from the Quick Link menu. Press the Windows key + X, then click "File Explorer".
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  11. 11
    You can also use the Search function. Type "File Explorer" into the search box, then select it near the top.
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  12. 12
    Another easy method to access Windows Explorer is with the Run dialog box. Press the Windows key + R, type "Explorer" (without quotes) into the run prompt, then click "OK".
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Arrange Files in a Folder in Windows 10

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Arranging and grouping files or folders with Windows Explorer is a great way to organize everything. There is no way to arrange files manually, but Windows will sort everything from either A > Z or Z > A. By adding a symbol to the beginning of a filename or folder (_Filename), you'll be able to keep it at the top or bottom. Add two symbols (__), and the file or folder will sort above others with only one symbol, and so forth.

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  1. 1
    To sort files and folders, click the drop-down arrow to the far right in the menu bar.
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  2. 2
    When the ribbon expands, click the View tab, then click "Sort by". When the drop-down expands, choose an option to sort by.
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    You can also add more columns/details by clicking "More".
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  3. 3
    You can also sort; alphabetically, by date, file type, or any other detail you have in your window, by clicking on the column.
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  4. 4
    With the ribbon expanded, you can also group your files. Click "Group by", then select from the list of details.
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  5. 5
    To add additional details, click "Add columns", then select one from the drop-down. If you don't see a detail you'd like to add, click "More columns..."
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  6. 6
    When the Choose Details" window opens, place a checkmark next to each detail you wish to add, then click "OK".
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    You can also set the width of the column by entering a value in the "Width of selected columns (in pixels)" box.
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  7. 7
    To update your files/folders list, click the refresh icon in the far right of the address bar. This is handy when you're downloading files and need to refresh Explorer to view them.
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Use Windows 10 Explorer Ribbon

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File Explorer's ribbon offers a wide variety of tools users can use when managing their files and folders.

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    On the Home tab with the ribbon expanded, the first set of tools is for the Clipboard. From here you can; Copy, Cut, Copy path, Paste, and Paste path.
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    If you hover the mouse cursor over the option, the shortcut will appear.
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  • 2
    The next set of tools os for Organization. The first two options are "Move to" and "Copy to".
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    Select a file or folder, click Move or Copy, then choose a location when the drop-down menu expands.
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  • 3
    The third option in Organization is "Delete". With a file or folder selected, you can either "Delete" (moves files to the recycle bin), or "Permanently delete" (completely deletes the file from your system).
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  • 4
    The last option in the Organization section is "Rename". Select a file or folder, then type in the new name for it.
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  • 5
    The next batch of tools is labeled as New. From this section you can; Create a new folder, Create a new item, and Create an easy access.
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  • 6
    The next set of tools is in the Open section. The first tile is "properties" and with a file selected, the properties window will launch.
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    You can also right-click a file and select "Properties" from the menu.
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  • 7
    In addition to viewing a file's properties, users can also select "Remove properties".
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  • 8
    When the Remove Properties window launches, you can choose to; Create a copy with all the possible properties removed, or Remove the following properties from this file (select which properties you want to be removed then click OK).
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  • 9
    You can also open a file in a specific program by clicking the "Open" drop-down, then choosing an application. If you don't see the program in the menu, click "Choose another app".
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  • 10
    The last batch of tools in File Explorer's ribbon is Select. From here you have the option to; Select all, Select none, or Invert selection.
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  • Customize File Explorer in Windows 10

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    Customizing Windows Explorer can make working on your computer a lot smoother. For example, depending on the type of tasks you're doing, changing the view can make a huge difference in your efficiency. Adding folders, you frequently use, to the Quick links section is also a great way to minimize clicks and keystrokes.

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    1. 1
      The Quick Links section is at the top in the left pane of File Explorer and is where you should have your most visited directories. With the home tab selected, click on the folder you want to add, then click "Pin to Quick access".
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      You can also right-click on a folder, then select "Pin to Quick access".
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    2. 2
      The Navigation pane, which sits below the Quick links section, is where you can view all the directories on your PC. With the View tab selected, expand this to move from folder to folder quickly, or drive to drive.
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    3. 3
      The Preview pane is helpful when you want to see a specific file visually.
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    4. 4
      A good example of when this is handy is when you're trying to find an image that you don't know (or have forgotten) by filename.
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    5. 5
      The Details pane is another handy viewing option.
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    6. 6
      With a file selected, you can view some important information without having to open properties.
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    7. 7
      Another useful feature in the View section is "Layout", and it's where you can choose how your files and folders will appear.
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      Choosing large or extra large icons, for example, is good for looking through images.
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    Use the Search Function in Windows 10

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    The Search function in Windows Explorer can be beneficial, especially if you have a lot of drives and files on your system.

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      Searching is pretty straightforward. Just select "This PC", then type the name of the file (or part of the filename), or the file extension you want to find into the search box.
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      If you search your entire computer, it may take a bit of time to pull your results.
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    2. 2
      To save on time, you can search in specific folders or directories.
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    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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    Article Info

    Categories : Use Windows 10

    Recent edits by: Jay

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