Save your searches
The best way to search PC remains File Explorer’s search bar – use the tools on the Ribbon’s Search tab to help narrow results by file type, size and other properties. Recently used search terms remain available via the ‘Recent searches’ drop-down menu, but if you keep coming back to the same terms again and again, click ‘Save search’ to permanently store them. These searches are accessible from the Searches folder inside your user folder, but you can pin them to the Start menu for easier access (right-click a search entry to do so).
Configure Quick access
The ‘Quick access’ menu in File Explorer’s left-hand Navigation pane is your best friend – pin frequently accessed folders here for quick access when needed by dragging them into place from the main File Explorer pane. Right-click a pinned folder and choose ‘Unpin from Quick Access’ to remove it. Recently accessed folders are displayed here by default, too. To see recently accessed files, click the ‘Quick access’ shortcut to view them beneath your pinned and recently accessed folders. To hide either from this view, right-click ‘Quick access’ and choose Options to untick unwanted elements.
Add extra elements
By default, the Navigation pane shows ‘Quick access’, This PC and a handful of extras, such as OneDrive. You can add Libraries, Recycle Bin and Control Panel shortcuts by right-clicking blank space in the Navigation Bar and choosing ‘Show all folders’ – they will all appear under This PC.
Selectively pin shortcuts
If This PC now appears too cluttered, right-click and choose ‘Show all folders’ again to remove them. Now type
shell:desktop into the Address bar and you’ll see the items appear as standalone shortcuts – drag those you want across into the ‘Quick access’ menu to open them from there instead.
Remove unwanted items
Not everyone is a fan of OneDrive, so having its icon appear – along with other selected third-party cloud providers – in the Navigation pane may not be your cup of tea. If you can’t find an option in the program’s own settings to remove it from view, press [Win] + [R], type regedit and press [Enter]. Next, press [Ctrl] + [F], type system.ispinned and click Find Next. You’ll find yourself somewhere inside the Computer\ HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID branch. Select the key and use the (Default) value on the right to identify it. If it’s the one you want to hide, double-click the System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree value and change it to 0. The item will instantly vanish (change it back to 1 to restore it again). Repeat the search to find other unwanted entries.
Switch default view
When you open File Explorer from its Taskbar shortcut, it’ll display your ‘Quick access’ folder by default. You can change the default view to This PC instead by right-clicking the ‘Quick access’ folder in the Navigation pane and choosing Options, then selecting This PC under ‘Open File Explorer to:’. It’s also possible to set the default folder to Downloads if you wish – you will need to use Winaero Tweaker (select File Explorer > File Explorer Staring Folder) in this event.
Collate favourite commands
Like its contemporaries in Office and other applications, File Explorer’s Ribbon features a Quick Access Toolbar in the top-left corner of the window, which enables you to ‘pin’ favourite commands from elsewhere on the Ribbon – these are always visible and easy to access. You can add common ones such as Properties, Rename or Delete by clicking the drop-down menu to its right, but you’re not restricted to these options. Simply right-click your chosen command on the Ribbon and choose ‘Add to Quick Access Toolbar’. If you run out of space, click the dropdown arrow next to it again, but this time choose ‘Show below the Ribbon’ to display all your commands in a toolbar beneath the Ribbon.
Quick-fire custom views
File Explorer makes it easy to view or hide hidden items, show file extensions and display tick boxes next to each item to make it easier to select nonconsecutive items in a folder – you’ll find these options grouped together in the ‘Show/hide’ section of the View tab on the Ribbon. You can even quickly hide selected items from view using the appropriately titled button.
Fed up with performing the same repetitive action on a group of files one at a time? With ‘Item check boxes’ selected, you can perform certain actions across any currently selected files with one click. Universal actions such as Rename, Delete, Attach To Email or Compress To Zip File can be found on the Home and Share tabs (but check the box at the end of the feature for a better bulk-renaming tool). If you select a group of photo files you can also rotate them all 90-degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise under the Picture Tools > Manage tab.
Hide the Ribbon
While it’s possible to hide or show the Ribbon using the ‘^’ and ‘v’ buttons in the top right-hand corner, it’s just as quick – if not quicker – to simply
double-click a Ribbon tab header, which does the same thing. To temporarily view a tab’s contents without bringing the whole Ribbon back into focus, just click on it once – it’ll vanish when you next click away from it.
Customise by folder type
Do you find yourself having to tweak the view settings of specific folders based on their contents? You can designate certain folders as a specific type (General, Documents, Pictures, Music or Videos) by right-clicking inside the folder and choosing 'Customise this folder…' Once done, you can further customise how the folder appears via the View tab on the Ribbon. If you’d like to apply the same settings to other folders of the same type for a more consistent look, click Options > 'Change folder and search options' > 'View tab’ and click ‘Apply to Folders’.
Quick-fire shared folders
The quickest way to share a folder is to right-click it and open the ‘Give access to’ sub-menu. From here you will be able to share it with other users of your computer – however, you should ignore any Homegroup options as Microsoft has now deprecated this feature.
Choose ‘Specific people’ if you are only planning to share the folder with yourself or wish to share with additional people (such as the 'Everyone’ user, which gives universal access without the need for a password).
Add tabs to File Explorer
Anyone who regularly has two or more File Explorer windows open will love this next tip: download and install QTTabBar from http://qttabbar.wikidot.com/ and it’ll integrate itself with File Explorer, enabling you to browse multiple locations through a series of tabs once you select QTTabBar from the Options menu under the File Explorer Ribbon’s View tab. You’ll see the tabs at the top of the screen – press [Ctrl] + [N] and a duplicate tab of the current one will appear beneath the Address bar or click the '+' button to select a new location manually. You can copy or move files between different tabs by dragging them from the current window on top of another tab, or by right-clicking the tab for more options.
QTTabBar comes with two handy extras – pop-up previews of supported formats (music, video and image) when you roll the mouse over an item, plus look out for a small down arrow icon that appears when you roll the cursor over a folder – click this and you’ll be able to view (and browse to) content inside that folder, too.
Gain an application launcher
QTTabBar can be expanded in other ways, too: select QT Command Bar to unlock a host of extras – customised folder groups for easy access, plus clickable buttons to recently accessed folders and files. There’s also a greyedout application launcher button – simply drag a program shortcut on to here to add it. To manage your apps – including adding a keyboard shortcut – right-click to the right of the toolbar and choose QTTabBar Options > Application launcher.
Make use of the Ribbon’s Quick Access toolbar to place frequently accessed commands at your fingertips.
One of the biggest time-saving features of File Explorer is the Quick access menu.
QTTabBar takes File Explorer to the next level with tabs, pop-up previews and other handy features.