10 Little Known Features of Windows File Explorer

Akshata Shanbhag 27-10-2015

Don’t let Windows File Explorer fool you with its plain looks. It’s capable of many more actions and tweaks than it lets on!


The file explorer in Windows has quite a few hidden settings 5 Windows 7 Features You Didn't Know Existed Windows 7 contains many little-known features. Here we highlight the more impressive ones that could boost your productivity and deepen your love for Windows 7. Read More that are not a part of your workflow. That’s most likely because you haven’t discovered them, yet. We’re here to help you change that, but first, here’s a quick look at some keyboard shortcuts Windows Keyboard Shortcuts 101: The Ultimate Guide Keyboard shortcuts can save you hours of time. Master the universal Windows keyboard shortcuts, keyboard tricks for specific programs, and a few other tips to speed up your work. Read More to speed up navigation in Explorer.

  • Win + E – Opens Windows Explorer
  • Alt + Up – Switches to the parent folder in the hierarchy
  • Alt P – Toggles the Preview pane
  • Alt+Enter – Opens Properties for the selected object
  • F2 – Allows you to rename selection
  • Shift + Del – Deletes selection directly i.e. without moving it to Recycle Bin

Now let’s move on to 10 things that you didn’t know Windows Explorer could do.

Open ISO Files

Up to Windows 7, you needed a third-party tool like UltraISO or PowerISO to open ISO files What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7 ISO files can be created from any CD or DVD you have lying around. They’re called "disc images" because they’re an exact image of a disc. An ISO file contains an exact representation of the... Read More . Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft has added native support for this file format. So now all you have to do to open an .iso file is right-click on it and select Mount from the context menu.

Move Files via the Address Bar

If you have ever found yourself cut-pasting or copy-pasting files from a child folder to a parent folder, here’s a neat trick you can use. In Explorer, select the file(s) you want to move and drag it to the parent location in the address bar to move the file. If you want to copy the file instead, hold down Ctrl when you’re dragging and dropping the file.


Add Tags and Comments via File Details

When you select a file in Windows 7, you’ll see its details — size, the date of creation, etc. — in a section at the bottom. You can customize some of those details by adding tags, comments, etc. This functionality is not immediately clear because the fields don’t appear editable.


Display the Pathname in the Title Bar

Having the full path in the title bar is quite convenient, but it’s no longer displayed by default in Windows 8 and above. You can bring it back quite easily though! Click on View > Options in the Explorer ribbon to open the Folder Options dialog. Switch to the View tab in the dialog, find the Display full path in the title bar option, and check the box next to it.



Here’s another handy tweak. If you don’t like Explorer’s default breadcrumb navigation in Windows 7 and above, you can switch to the classic full path style in the address bar with a program called Classic Shell.

Show a Network Map

A network map gives you a detailed pictorial view of the devices on your network and their interconnections. In Windows 7, you have easy access to this map via the See Full Map link in Network and Sharing Center. Hovering over each computer in the network map shows you its IP address and MAC address. This information often comes in handy, especially when you’re troubleshooting.

The network map feature went missing after Windows 7, but that’s not a big deal. If you run a newer version of Windows, there is something you can do to get the same network map information.

Open Explorer and click on Network in the sidebar. Under the View tab of the ribbon, click on Details to switch to the Details view. Next, click on Sort by and then on Choose columns from the dropdown.


The Choose Details dialog should pop up at this point. Select the checkboxes for IP Address and MAC Address, and click on OK. Refresh the Network view. Now you should be able to see those details in there.


Reveal Secret “Send To” Locations

Hold down Shift and then select a file or folder in Explorer, open its context menu, and hover over the Send to link. This simple keystroke reveals a secret set of locations, including the Library folders, in the Send to menu. Do note that the extra options won’t appear if you press Shift after you have opened the menu.

You can also change the locations that appear in the Send to menu. To do so, type shell:sendto in Explorer’s address bar. This brings up the location where the Send to options are stored. Just drag and drop any of your commonly used folders to this location and you’ll then be able to see them in the Send to menu by default.


Give You Shortcuts to Useful Actions

If you use any Explorer actions or items often, browsing the ribbon tabs to find them every time is inconvenient.

There’s a much quicker way to access your favorite items such as the Properties dialog or the New Folder action. Just right-click on each such item in the ribbon and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar. This gives you one-click access to those items, by placing them in the discreet toolbar that’s right at the top.


Be sure to add the Home tab’s Easy access action to the quick access toolbar. It allows you to make a few useful changes — pinning files and folders to the Start menu, making them available offline, mapping a network drive, etc.

Display Checkboxes for File Selection

You don’t have to stick with the default method of selecting multiple files: holding down Ctrl or Shift as you select each file. You can add checkboxes in Windows Explorer for easier file and folder selection.

To enable the checkbox feature in Windows 7, go to Organize > Folder Options, and under View Tab > Advanced Settings, select the checkbox next to Use check boxes to select items.


The same method works if you’re on Windows 8, but there’s a shortcut, too! Open the View tab from the ribbon, look for Item check boxes and select the box next to it.

Support Tabs

Tabbed navigation is super convenient, and many of us would consider it a must-have for Explorer. But Microsoft doesn’t think so, and continues to ignore the demand for this much-requested feature.

You can get tabbed navigation 3 Tools to Add Tabbed Browsing to Windows Explorer Tabbed browsing is a feature that I first encountered 10 years ago in Firefox’s previous incarnation, Firebird. Since then, tabs have popped up in almost every realm related to user interfaces. They make it easy... Read More anyway, with Clover — a Windows Explorer extension. You’ll find its multi-tab functionality similar to that of Google Chrome. Clover works on Windows 7 through Windows 10, but on the latter it makes a few tweaks to File Explorer’s menus.

QTTabBar is another tabbed navigation extension you can try.

Stop Displaying Recent Items and Places

You won’t find the Favorites and Libraries sidebar sections in Windows 10. The Quick access section has replaced them. It holds shortcuts — user specified and computer generated — to your frequently used files and locations. If this view feels cluttered and distracting, you can get rid of it. You’ll need to clear data that Quick access has already gathered and prevent it from logging more data.

Navigate to the View tab in the ribbon and click on Options, which you’ll find at the extreme right. In the Folder Options dialog that comes up, click on the Clear button in the Privacy section of the the General tab. Now uncheck the boxes next to Show recently used files in Quick access and Show frequently used folders in Quick access. Done? Super! Quick Access won’t bother you anymore.

If you’d like to get rid of only select Quick access locations, skip the Clear button step above. Instead right-click on each location you want to remove from the sidebar and then click on Unpin from Quick access or Remove from Quick access as appropriate.

Note that although similarly named, this Quick access feature has nothing to do with the Quick Access Toolbar feature we discussed a few sections above.

In Windows 7 and Windows 8, Favorites > Recent Places is somewhat of a functional equivalent to Quick access i.e. it stores a list of your commonly used locations. To prevent it from accumulating data, here’s what you can do.

Windows 7: Right-click on an empty space on the taskbar and then click on Properties to bring up the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog. In the Start Menu tab, under Privacy, uncheck the box next to Store and display recently opened items in the Start menu and the taskbar and click on Apply.

Windows 8: Bring up the Taskbar and Navigation properties dialog via the taskbar context menu. Switch to the Jump Lists tab and uncheck the box next to Store and display recently opened items in Jump Lists, and hit Apply. Do remember that this action will also hide the jump lists that appear when you right-click on taskbar icons.


Are You Ready to Explore Explorer?

Windows Explorer has many more tiny tweaks that’ll transform your Windows experience 7 Quick Tips & Hacks to Optimize Your Windows 10 Experience Windows 10 is more than an upgrade to Windows 8, it's an evolution. We've covered many of the big changes, but lots of minor things changed, too. Maybe we can teach you a new trick. Read More . We urge you to discover them all and put them to work. How about beginning with these tips to share a file quickly from Windows Explorer 4 Ways to Quickly Share a File From Windows Explorer There are lots of ways to share files and folders with other people. Have you considered Windows Explorer as a file sharing tool? Read More ?

Related topics: File Explorer, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Explorer, Windows Tricks.

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  1. Steven
    February 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    Linux has had these similar features for ages, and aren't obfuscated like Windows.

  2. Kurt Saldutti
    January 21, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    What good is having choices like comments column and tabs column in this so-called “file explorer” if you can’t simply use them. Say I have thousands of .jpg files or .pdf files and I wish to help myself by making an information “ID” to help with identifying the file. So, I want to leave a short comment in comments or tag a picture file or pdf with ID information. BUT NO even though the choice is there to add these columns you can’t use the choices unless it’s a Microsoft file extension of some sort. That is not how XP worked it allowed you to use comments for any type of file. So what happened to a really useful and easy productive idea? All my hundreds of old comments I made for files in XP are gone! Why is Windows killing off productive ideas that made power users productive? The neo young programmers at MS have lost what it was to productive.

  3. Toni Peji?
    October 8, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you for this, using tabs is much better than to have 10 explorer windows opened, but clover 3 has one problem, i can't drag and drop files between tabs.

  4. Ravi
    September 5, 2016 at 2:21 am

    Sir after new bios setup of lenovo g50 my screen is totally death and all other things are working
    Plz help me what should I do

  5. Chris Burgess
    July 8, 2016 at 3:44 am

    I wrote to Microsoft a while ago asking a simple question. Why us Windows Explorer a most important tool hidden down the back and hard to find? It didn't take long for it to be found on the toolbar.

  6. Anonymous
    November 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    There Is A File Manager That Allows You To Use Lots Of Features Not Directly Available In The File Explorer.

    It Is Free To Use For 30 Days, And It Is Called ZTREE.

    If You Are Old Enough To Have Been A Power User In The Old DOS Says, You Certainly Have Used Something Similar Called XTREE.


    • Anonymous
      November 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      * DOS Days.


      • Akshata Shanbhag
        November 4, 2015 at 2:48 am

        I'm sure there are plenty of people from the DOS days feeling nostalgic about Xtree :) Thank you for bringing up that one. There's also File Manager Gold, which is supposed to be an Xtree clone and is provided as a Metro app.

        • Anonymous
          November 4, 2015 at 10:18 am

          Thank You For Responding.

          I Do Not Feel Nostalgic, At All.

          ZTREE Is An Awesome Upgrade For XTREE, And My Life Would Be A Living Hell Without It.


  7. Anonymous
    October 27, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    The original QTTabBar by Quizo ( is better and still in development.

    • Ricardo
      November 23, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      I understand it has been updated recently, by I am so used to the Sourceforge version linked (1.5) that I see no need to change. Can you tell about in which way it is better (since the old one still seems to work fine in Windows 10)?

  8. Anonymous
    October 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks, I didn't knew about Shift+SendTo!