File Explorer


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This chapter deals with how to perform everyday files and folders tasks such as creating new folders, deleting, moving, renaming, copying, pasting etc. in Windows 8.1. These are all done using Windows File Explorer (old name "Windows Explorer").

The easiest way to open File Explorer is by clicking once on the File Explorer icon (a folder holder) on the taskbar. Please see screenshot below.

File Explorer icon on Taskbar
File Explorer icon on Taskbar.
(You may have no or different icons on the right of the File Explorer icon.
Windows 8.1 comes with only the first 3 icons. The rest of the icons shown in the
above screenshot have been pinned by me.)

When opened The File Explorer looks something like this:

Parts of Windows 8.1 File Explorer window
Parts of Windows 8.1 File Explorer window

Please take a moment to understand the different parts of the File Explorer window. Once you understand the different parts, it will be easy to use it to do all your files and folders tasks and also to find things in your computer and elsewhere. By the way, some terminology have changed in Windows 8.1. What used to be called "My Computer" in the past is now called "This PC".

In the above screenshot, I have marked the different parts of the File Explorer window. I shall briefly explain below what these parts do or how to use them. Many of the things are common sense things or are self-explanatory. So my explanations will be hints actually. The best way of learning is to play with the different panes, tabs, buttons, etc. So I encourage you to do that. Don't be afraid. You will not break anything or make irreversible changes. Just don't delete anything without knowing well what you are doing!

Part #1: Left Pane
Use the Left Pane to go to any location whether it is This PC, or devices, or OneDrive, or whatever. Then click or touch to expand that item to reach whatever you are looking for.

Part #2: Back, Forward, and Up Buttons
Self-explanatory.

Part #3: Ribbon
Use the Ribbon to perform all your common files and folders tasks such as cut, copy, paste, delete, move, rename, make new folder, etc. Please see enlarged screenshot of the Ribbon below with important/useful buttons marked with Red Dots. Please don't forget to select the file or folder you want to modify or work with.

Windows 8.1 File Explorer Ribbon
Windows 8.1 File Explorer Ribbon under the Home tab

Part #4: Address Bar
Use the address bar to enter or select a location. You can tap or click at the end of the address path to highlight it for copying. You can tap or click on any part of the path to go to that level.

Part #5: File List
Self-explanatory.

Part #6: Column Headings
Self-explanatory.

Part #7: Search Box
Self-explanatory.

Part #8: Status Bar
Use the status bar to quickly see the total number of items in a location, or the number of selected items and their total size.

Part #9: Details/Preview Pane
Self-explanatory. Play with it to learn hands on!

Before I finish this chapter, I would like to tell a story to show how useful this File Explorer is. Within the first 2 days of my buying this brand new Dell computer that came loaded with Windows 8, I discovered I cannot open my CD/DVD drive door. It is a Dell XPS 8700 computer. Dell made the button that opens the drive door so invisible (I guess their designers/engineers wanted to show off their aesthetic excellence) that anybody over the age of 40 would find it extremely difficult to see it. Dell's manual was of no help to me. I still could not find the button! So disgusted, annoyed, and desparate, I called Dell. I explained I could not SEE any button to press and that I was not a kid anymore - my eyesight was not that strong. The lady on the other side of the phone understood. She asked me to click on the folder holder icon (File Explorer) on the taskbar and then click on This PC on the Left Pane. Then she asked me to right-click on DVD RW Drive under Devices and Drives. On the resulting menu, I was asked to click on Eject. And Voila! The door of the CD/DVD drive opened up. The moral of the story is Windows 8.1 File Explorer lets you do more things than you would normally think possible!

Please see the following screenshot to understand what I just described in the above paragraph.

Windows 8.1 File Explorer opened the door of my CD/DVD drive
Windows 8.1 File Explorer helped me to open the door
of the CD/DVD drive of my computer


Please look for addition of new pages to this site every now and then until further notice. I have too many grounds to cover. So please be patient.
Thank you for your co-operation.


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Home | Decision to upgrade | Buyiny new computer | Transferring data | Re-installing programs | Disposing off old computer | How to use DBAN | Setting up the new computer | Look & feel of Windows 8.1 | Setting up auto maintenance | Shutting down/Restarting | Links | Start screen | Charm bar | Windows store | Creating recovery drive | File Explorer |

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