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File Explorer is the application you use to navigate files and folders on your hard disk, memory stick, CD/DVD, USB drive - and perform tasks with them such as open, rename, delete, move etc.

 

The functionality of File Explorer is similar to previous version of Windows especially Windows 10 but it has gone through a redesign and the main change is the replacement of the complex ribbon interface with a new simplified toolbar.

Accessing File Explorer

 

File Explorer can be opened using the icon on the Taskbar.

 

fileexplorer_icon_win11

 

or from the icon on the Start menu.

 

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or by right clicking on the Start Menu icon.

 

rightmouseclick

 

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or by pressing.

 

068_Left_Windows_Win_Black + 031_E_Win_Black

 

File Explorer Overview

 

fileexplorer_win11

 

 

No1

Toolbar

Allows for the creation of new files / folders, along with buttons for cut, copy, paste, rename, share and delete.  You can also choose how to view and sort your files and folders. Covered in more detail below

No2

Navigation Pane

This pane allows you to navigate through your Drives and Folders (This PC), Network locations and User storage locations such as Documents, Pictures and Music

No3

Back / Forward / Up

Allows you navigate back and forward through the folder structure as well as moving up a level, you can also click the drop down arrow to see recent locations

No4

Address Bar

This shows the path of the currently selected location e.g. C:  > Users > Darren > Documents

No5

Search

Allows you to search the currently selected path

No6

Content Pane

Shows the content of whatever you have selected in the Navigation Pane

No7

Total Item Count

Shows how many files / folders are in the currently selected path

 

File Explorer Toolbar

 

fileexplorer_toolbar1_win11

 

No1_Green

New

Allows you to create new Folders, Shortcuts and Files

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Cut

Cut currently selected files(s) / folder(s) - this means they will be moved from this location when pasted

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Copy

Copies currently selected files(s) / folder(s) - this means they will be copied from this location when pasted

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Paste

Paste files(s) / folder(s) currently in clipboard e.g. previously copied or cut to this location

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Rename

Rename currently selected files(s) / folder(s)

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Share

Share currently selected files(s) / folder(s) with Nearby Sharing, Email or selected App

No7_Green

Delete

Delete currently selected files(s) / folder(s)

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Sort

Choose how you wish the content pane to be sorted - by Name, Date, Type etc and whether ascending or descending

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View

Choose how you wish the files / folders in the content pane to be viewed - as Icons, List, Details, Tiles or Content

No10_Green

. . .

see below

 

 

fileexplorer_toolbar2_win11

 

No1_Yellow

Undo

Undo the last operation

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Redo

Redo the last operation

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Burn to disc

Burn (Write) selected files(s) / folder(s) to CD/DVD

No4_Yellow

Compress to Zip files

Compress selected files(s) / folder(s)

No5_Yellow

Copy path

Copy to clipboard full path of currently selected item

No6_Yellow

Select all

Select all items in current location

No7_Yellow

Select none

Deselect all items in current location

No8_Yellow

Invert selection

Invert currently selected items e.g. what is selected becomes deselected and vice versa

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Properties

Show properties of currently selected files(s) / folder(s) - more details below

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Options

Show File Explorer options - more details below

 

 

File Explorer Context Menu

 

If you right mouse click on a file or folder you will see the following context menu.

 

rightmouseclick

 

fileexplorer_contextmenu1_win11

 

No1_Green

Open

Open the currently selected file with the default application for that file type e.g. .DOCX open with Microsoft Word

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Open with >

Choose to open the currently selected file with a different application

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Compress to Zip file

Compress selected files(s) / folder(s)

No4_Green

Copy as path

Copy to clipboard full path of currently selected item

No5_Green

Properties

Show properties of currently selected files(s) / folder(s) - more details below

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OneDrive >

Allows you to copy currently selected files(s) / folder(s) to OneDrive

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Show more options

This displays another context menu with additional less commonly used options on

No8_Green

Cut

Cut currently selected files(s) / folder(s) - this means they will be moved from this location when pasted

No9_Green

Copy

Copies currently selected files(s) / folder(s) - this means they will be copied from this location when pasted

No10_Green

Rename

Rename currently selected files(s) / folder(s)

No11_Green

Share

Share currently selected files(s) / folder(s) with Nearby Sharing, Email or selected App

No12_Green

Delete

Delete currently selected files(s) / folder(s)

 

 

If you right mouse click on an empty area you will see the following context menu.

 

rightmouseclick

 

fileexplorer_contextmenu2_win11

No1_Green

View >

Choose how you wish the files / folders in the content pane to be viewed - as Icons, List, Details, Tiles or Content

No2_Green

Sort by >

Choose how you wish the content pane to be sorted - by Name, Date, Type etc and whether ascending or descending

No3_Green

Group by >

Group files / folders by name, date, type or size

No4_Green

Undo

Undo the last operation

No5_Green

New >

Allows you to create new Folders, Shortcuts and Files

No6_Green

Properties

Show properties of currently selected files(s) / folder(s) - more details below

No7_Green

Show more options

This displays another context menu with additional less commonly used options on

No8_Green

Paste

Paste files(s) / folder(s) currently in clipboard e.g. previously copied or cut to this location

 

File Explorer Properties

 

This window is shown when you choose Properties from the toolbar or from the context menu.

 

The General tab shows you the name, type of file, location, size, creation / modified and last accessed dates, along with the file attributes e.g. if it is read-only or hidden.

 

The Security tab shows you who has permissions to access this file - used more in a work / enterprise environment.

 

The Details tab shows you further details on the file and what appears here depends on file type, if a document it will show author, what program created it, editing time and much more.  If a photo will show detailed information on camera and settings used to take the image.

 

The Previous Versions tab allows you to easily restore to an older version of the file - need to have File History enabled for this to work, but this is becoming obsolete in favour of using OneDrive instead.

 

fileexplorer_properties1_win11

 

If you have multiple files / folders selected when choosing Properties then the window shown will be slightly different, it will show a count of files / folders and the combined size of these files / folders.

 

fileexplorer_properties2_win11

File Explorer Options

 

File Explorer options can be accessed from the Options button on the toolbar.

 

On the General tab you can choose whether File Explorer opens to This PC (where it shows all you user folders e.g. documents, pictures, and drives) or Quick Access (which shows all your recent files and folders), you can also choose whether to open folder in the same window or a new window, whether you wish to double-click (default) or single-click to open an item, and you can choose privacy settings such as whether you want to show recently used files and folders in Quick Access.

 

On the View tab you choose the default view for folders e.g. icons or details, and configure advanced settings such as whether to show file extensions for all files, whether to show hidden or protected operating system files, and much more.

 

On the Search tab you choose defaults for searching such as whether to include non-indexed locations such as compressed files, system directories, and whether to search content of files as well as names of files.

 

fileexplorer_options_win11

 

Copy/Move Progress Dialog

 

When copying or moving files from one location to another you will see the following dialog box - which shows the progress/speed of the current operation along with the current file being processed, time remaining and items remaining - the process can be paused or stopped using the buttons above the graph (as highlighted below).

 

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Unlike previous versions of Windows if you are doing multiple copy/move operations they now all show in the same progress dialog box.

 

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Delete Progress Dialog

 

Deleting files/folders will show the following progress box as it first calculates the sizes of the files and then moves the selected files/folders to the recycle bin.

 

delete_progress_win11

 

Unlike previous versions of Windows you do not by default get a prompt confirming you wish to delete the selected files/folders - so be very careful!

 

To enable the confirmation prompt so you are always asked if you are sure before deleting files/folders - right mouse click on the Recycle Bin icon (located on the Desktop) and choose Properties.

 

rightmouseclick

 

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When the Recycle Bin Properties window appears tick the box next to "Display delete confirmation dialog" and click OK.

 

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Now whenever you try to delete a file or folder you will see the following box to confirm you wish to proceed.

 

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