Navigate your PC
It’s all about the files on your computer: documents, programs, settings and more – discover how to find and access them
We’ve seen how the desktop can provide you with a means of pinning favourite programs and files within easy reach, but it’s only the start of your journey into navigating Windows 10. Let’s start with File Explorer – the tool you use to browse and manage your computer’s contents. You’ll see its folder icon on the Taskbar, so click this and it’ll open to one of two views: ‘Quick access’ or This PC – you can change the default view by switching to the View tab on File Explorer’s ribbons, clicking the Options button and making your choice from the ‘Open File Explorer to’ drop-down menu.
‘Quick access’ is a special folder that contains shortcuts to both recently opened files and folders you frequently open. It’s also possible to ‘pin’ favourite folders to the ‘Quick access’ menu that appears in the Navigation pane on the left of the File Explorer window – the quickest way to do this is simply to drag a folder into the ‘Quick access’ list where you want it to sit and release the mouse button (you can later remove the folder from this list by right-clicking it and choosing ‘Unpin from Quick access’).
The left-hand pane also has shortcuts to OneDrive, This PC (a list of all your user folders as well as the drives attached to your PC), selected external drives and your Network. There’s a Homegroup entry too – but only for now, it’ll be disappearing as of the Spring Creators Update along with Homegroups themselves.
Windows 10 introduces lots of handy new features in File Explorer that will be new to you if you’re moving from Windows 7: switch to the View tab on the Ribbon and tick ‘Item check boxes’ if you frequently need to select multiple files in a folder – this enables you to simply tick them to do so.
Also keep an eye on the Ribbon when selecting individual files of a specific type – for example, select a photo and a context-sensitive Picture Tools option will appear. Click this to reveal additional options relevant to photos, such as rotating images or viewing the folder’s contents as a slideshow.
Search your PC
File Explorer also has a search tool built into it for searching the currently selected location (navigate to the This PC level to search your entire PC). Type your search terms and a list of matching entries will appear. Depending on where you search, the process may take some time if you’ve included folders that haven’t been indexed – indexing records a folder’s contents in a small database that allows for much quicker searches since the index is searched rather than the folder or drive itself.
Indexed content can also be searched using the new Cortana search tool, which is built right into the Taskbar. Just type what you’re searching for and a list of matching items will appear. Click ‘Filters’ to restrict your search to a specific type of item (such as documents, settings or web results). The step-by-step guide below reveals how to configure Cortana, as well as how to disable the personal assistant entirely so the box only functions as a convenient search tool for items on your PC without any privacy connotations.
Indexed folders tend to be those where personal data is likely to reside, such as your user folders. To see what folders are being indexed, type ‘indexing’ into Cortana’s search box and click Indexing Options. You’ll see a list of indexed locations – click Modify to select folders to add to this list. You can easily uninstall unwanted apps and programs via Settings.
Should you wish to make changes to, or remove, a desktop program or Microsoft Store app, you will need to head to Start > Settings > Apps. Select a program from the list and you’ll see options to modify, repair or uninstall it – just as with the original ‘Programs and Features’ Control Panel. Windows apps also come with two additional options: Move, which enables you to move the app on to a different drive to free up space on your main system drive; and an ‘Advanced options’ link. This latter option enables you to reset the app, something that removes all user data and returns it to factory-fresh condition (handy if you’re troubleshooting a problem or want to start from scratch).
While Windows 10’s own tools are adequate for managing apps, download and install IObit Uninstaller Free (www.iobit.com/en/advanceduninstaller.php) if you want to be able to remove apps installed alongside Windows, such as Photos or Skype – these can always be reinstalled through the Microsoft Store. IObit Uninstaller also searches for program leftovers to ensure they’re removed more thoroughly, so helping to keep your PC clutter-free.
“Should you wish to make changes to or from a desktop program or Microsoft Store app, you will need to head to Start > Settings > Apps”
The ‘Quick access’ folder puts recent and personally selected folders within easy reach.
Cortana enables you to search your PC from the Taskbar with a single click.