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Windows File Explorer is the Windows default tool to browse your files. If you want to get the most out of it, you need to dig a little deeper. We’re going to share with you some of our favorite File Explorer tricks and tweaks.
Whether it’s speeding through with shortcuts, bulk renaming files, or editing the menus, we’re certain you’ll learn something new with this great round-up.
If you’ve got your own File Explorer tips to share, be sure to let us know in the comments below.
1. Rename Multiple Files
You probably already know how to rename individual files, but did you know that the process is very similar to batch rename a group of files?
First, select the files you want to rename. You can hold down Ctrl and left-click to select specific files or press Ctrl + A to select all in the folder. Right-click the file you want first in the sequence (this process appends numbers to the end of the file) and click Rename.
Input whatever name you want all the files to have and press Enter. File Explorer will now rename all the selected files in numerical order.
If you need some more advanced features, like being able to add or remove specific text from file names, change file extensions, change EXIF data, and more then check out Bulk Rename Utility.
2. Delete File Browsing History
By default, File Explorer will keep a record of all the recent files you’ve opened as well as your recent searches. It’s good to quickly return to something, but perhaps you want to clear the history or turn this feature off entirely.
To begin, open File Explorer and click File > Change folder and search options. On the General tab and beneath the Privacy section, click Clear to remove all your File Explorer history.
If you want to disable the history, untick either or both Show recently used files in Quick access and Show frequently used folders in Quick access. Then click OK.
3. Disable Adverts
As if there weren’t enough adverts everywhere else, Microsoft has recently started displaying adverts in File Explorer to flog some of their products like an Office 365 subscription. You can close these individually by pressing the X in the top right corner, but let’s stop them from ever appearing.
Open File Explorer and click File > Change folder and search options. Switch to the View tab. Scroll down and untick Show sync provider notifications. Then click OK.
To disable adverts elsewhere in Windows 10, see our guide on how to find and disable ads.
4. Open File Explorer on This PC
File Explorer opens on the Quick Access page by default. If you’ve got no use for this then you can switch it to open on This PC instead.
Open File Explorer and go to File > Change folder and search options. On the Open File Explorer to dropdown, change this to This PC. Then click OK.
5. Show Recycle Bin and Control Panel in Sidebar
The navigation pane appears on the left-hand side of File Explorer and lets you move between things like Quick Access and This PC. By default, this list doesn’t include the Recycle Bin or Control Panel, but it’s very easy to add them in.
Simply right-click an empty space on the navigation pane and click Show all folders.
You’ll notice that, apart from Quick access, Desktop is now the only top level folder, with things like This PC and Network now branching off it, along with the addition of the Recycle Bin and Control Panel.
6. Use Keyboard Shortcuts
If there’s one way to quickly become a power Windows user, it’s keyboard shortcuts for File Explorer. Once you master these you’ll wonder why you ever wasted your time clicking. Here is a selection of some of the most common:
Here is a selection of some of the most common:
- Windows key + E opens File Explorer
- Ctrl + N opens a new File Explorer window of the same folder.
- Ctrl + W closes the window.
- Ctrl + D selects the address bar.
- Ctrl + F selects the search box.
- Ctrl + Shift + N creates a folder.
- Alt + Up goes up a folder level.
- Alt + Right/Left goes forward or back.
You can also press Alt by itself to highlight elements with letters. Then simply press those letters to perform the action.
To become a keyboard shortcut master, check out our ultimate keyboard shortcut guide for Windows.
7. Remove Cloud Services From Sidebar
On the left-hand navigation pane of File Explorer, you’ll notice that any cloud service you have installed, including the default OneDrive, will appear here. It can be handy as quick access to those files and folders, but you can remove them from this pane if you wish.
To begin, do a system search for regedit and select the relevant result. This will open the Registry Editor, which can cause problems if used incorrectly, so follow these instructions carefully.
Go to Edit > Find and input IsPinned. Click Find Next. This will take you to the first result. On the right-hand pane, look for the item with a Name of (Default) and Type of REG_SZ. The value in the Data column will be text.
You want to look for the Data value that contains the name of the cloud service you want to remove from the navigation pane. If you don’t see it, press F3 to move to the next entry.
When you do find one, double click System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree, change the Value data to 0 and click OK.
This will then remove it from your navigation pane. If you ever want to bring it back, repeat the above steps and set the Value data as 1.
8. Add Context Commands With ExtraBits
There are loads of third-party programs to enhance the File Explorer.
While you can perform all of the tips in this article without any additional programs, there’s one that’s worth calling out: ExtraBits. It adds features to your right-click context menu, like being able to copy filenames, rename in bulk, extract a folder’s contents, and delete empty folders.
Download the program, run the installer, and use it by right-clicking on a file or folder. You can use it on multiple files at once, but the free version of ExtraBits is limited to 100 files at a time.
9. Add File Types to New Item Menu
You can add a new file from anywhere within File Explorer. Right-click an empty space, hover New and then select the file type that you want to create.
However, this list only contains certain file types. If you want to add your own to this list, open Notepad and paste this:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.XXX\ShellNew] "NullFile"=""
Replace .XXX with whatever the file extension is. For example, .doc, .psd or .png. Save the file as filetype.reg somewhere on your computer. Navigate to the file and open it.
You’ll be asked if you want to edit the registry. Click Yes to proceed. Once you reopen File Explorer, your file type will now be available on the New context menu.
10. Speedily Rotate Pictures
If you’ve got pictures on your computer that you want to rotate, you can easily do this inside File Explorer. This works on individual pictures or in bulk, so either left-click the picture or select the specific range.
In the ribbon go to Manage and click either Rotate left or Rotate right. Done! While you’re here, you can also choose to enter a Slide show or Set as background.
File Explorer Mastered
With all of these tips and tweaks in your palm, you’ll become a File Explorer expert in no time. We told you it had more to offer than it might seem on the surface!
If you’re looking for even more information and tips, check our guide on how to get the most out of File Explorer.
Which of these tips is your favorite? Do you have your own File Explorer advice to share?