The 10 Best Windows File Explorer Tricks and Tweaks

Joe Keeley 04-08-2017

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 10 Little Known Features of Windows File Explorer 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! Let us show you a bunch of them. Read More .


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.

batch rename file explorer


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.


folder options clear history file explorer

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 How to Disable Ads in Windows 10 File Explorer Windows 10 has crammed more ads into the OS than any version before it. Recently, you might have started seeing ads in your File Explorer. Here's how to disable them. Read More 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.


disable file explorer adverts

To disable adverts elsewhere in Windows 10, see our guide on how to find and disable ads 5 Places to Find & Disable Ads in Windows 10 You shouldn't have to put up with advertising in your operating system. Windows 10 features a few ads and promotions. We'll show you where to find and how to get rid of them. Read More .

4. Open File Explorer on This PC

File Explorer opens on the Quick Access How to Customize the Quick Access Menu in Windows 10 and 8 The Windows Quick Access menu is not as useful as it could be. We'll show you how to customize and re-organize the Win+X power use menu. Read More 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.


open file explorer to this pc

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.

show all folders file explorer

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 13 Essential File Explorer Shortcuts You Need to Know A few essential keyboard shortcuts could be the difference between sluggishness and speedy productivity. Read More . 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.

keyboard shortcuts file explorer

To become a keyboard shortcut master, check out our ultimate keyboard shortcut guide for Windows 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 .

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.

registry onedrive file explorer

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.

file explorer registry

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 The 10 Best Windows File Explorer Extensions for File Management If you use Windows 10, you're using File Explorer. Try out these handy extensions to get more out of File Explorer! Read More .

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.

file explorer extrabits

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.

file explorer new context menu

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


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 rotate pictures

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 How to Get the Most Out of the Windows 10 File Explorer Windows File Explorer is one of the most underrated features of Windows 10. Here we demonstrate how to manage and control the Windows 10 File Explorer from the bottom up and reveal features you never... Read More .

Which of these tips is your favorite? Do you have your own File Explorer advice to share?

Related topics: File Explorer, Windows 10.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. likefunbutnot
    August 7, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Folders can be pinned to the Taskbar Explorer Icon for speedy access.
    Folders can be added manually to the favorites list. Your favorites list is not immutable.

    Arbitrary libraries can be created. Any folder can be added to a library (WinLibraryTool can help, if Windows says it won't add something in the normal fashion). It can be helpful to create a Library for a single project or to break down content by application, even if that application is something simple like "Photos from my Camera" vs. "Internet Memes" vs. "Photos of Fetching Ladies in Scanty Attire."

    Locations of Default user folders can be moved from their Properties sheets. If you would like your Documents folder to reside in D:\Data\Username\Docs instead of c:\users\username\documents, it's pretty easy to move stuff around.

    Windows now fully supports Unix-style Symbolic Links, so you can have multiple entry points to the same folder on your filesystem. This can be done with the mklink command from a shell prompt or using the Link Shell Extension. This can be incredibly handy for navigational purposes or for crappy applications (coughiTunescough) that have hard-coded paths for data.

    You can use "Map Network Drive" in Windows Explorer to access an FTP or WebDAV location without using a third-party client application.

    Full disk backups made with the Windows 7 Backup and Restore Tool (available in Windows 7 - 10) are just VHD files that can be mounted from the context (right click) menu in Windows explorer and accessed as if they were just another disk drive.

    Are the contents of your Dropbox/Google Drive/Amazon Drive not showing up in Search Results? Right-click the top level folder, go to Properties. On the General Tab, click Advanced, then tick the box for "Allow files in this folder to have their contents indexed." Likewise, if you have a folder full of hot and heavy Stephen Universe Fanfics you'd rather not come up when you're doing a file or content search, you can also turn that option off and Windows will stop looking in than folder.

  2. Doc
    August 7, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    "6. Use Keyboard Shortcuts" - One very useful shortcut that's missing from Win 8.x/10 is BACKSPACE - fortunately, Classic Shell/Classic Explorer can restore that.

  3. Sjerp van Wouden
    August 7, 2017 at 9:33 am

    For me, ctrl + D does not select the address bar, but rather F4. This might be an error in your article.

    • Joe
      August 7, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Thank you for spotting this. It should actually be ALT + D, though F4 will do the same. Will get it fixed.

  4. BeedleTheBard
    August 6, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Interesting and useful article! I only knew renaming multiple files at once, but the other tips here are useful. I especially liked the adding file types to the New Item menu.

    • Marty Monroe
      August 7, 2017 at 8:48 am

      The renaming multiple files feature is, IMO, a really bad feature. So many times I have seen users want to rename one file and have several selected without knowing it. Blam! All of their files now have the same name and they have no idea as to what file is what.

      • Joe
        August 7, 2017 at 10:34 am

        CTRL + Z will undo the last action and will come in handy for these situations.