10 File Explorer Tips You May Not Know You Can Do in Windows 8.1

Because I deal with folders and files almost on daily basis, Windows Explorer, now called File Explorer in Windows 8, is still my best friend and the program I use the most on my day to day work. Guess what? I actually quite like what the new File Explorer offers. It’s powerful, smooth, efficient, and user-friendly, even the Ribbon bar looks quite nice to me. You may not agree but let me share with you these tips you may not be aware that you can do in this version of File Explorer.

1. Things you can do with Easy Access

Windows Explorer - Easy Access

With Easy Access which you can find on Home Tab, you can

  • Pin file/folder to Start (the Start menu, not Taskbar)
  • Add file/folder to Library or Favorites
  • Map a network drive
  • Make file/folder offline, or Sync.

2. Invert selection

Windows Explorer - Invert selection

What is this Invert Selection anyway? Basically, it selects all items previously not selected. For example, you have spent quite a bit time selecting a lot of items from a large number of files or folders in a folder using a combination of Shift+Click and Ctrl+Click. Now, you realized you’ve made a mistake selecting the wrong item all along. And that’s when this Invert Selection comes to the rescue. Simply click it and bang, all the items you previously wanted to select are all selected without going through again.

It’s available already in Windows 7 but it’s a lot easier in Windows 8.

3. Drop Files/Folder onto Address Bar to Copy/Move

Windows Explorer - Address bar

The Address bar in Windows Explorer displays a detail folder path of the current folder you are in. Do you know in Windows 8 you can simply drag and drop the files or folders into the displayed folder name to do a file copy or move? For example, in the screenshot above, I can copy the file Blank.exe to Data folder by simply dragging and dropping it to Data folder in the address bar.

I found this feature is super handy to me, and I just love it.

4. Show and hide items a lot easier

Windows Explorer - View - Show Hide

Making a file hidden is a lot easier in the new Windows Explorer. You can find all the operations easily in View Tab, including Hide button, Show/Hide hidden items, Show/Hide extension names, and display the check boxes. Oh, you can even access the Folder Options right from there too.

5. Quick Access Bar

Windows Explorer - Quick Access Bar

With Quick Access Bar, you shouldn’t have the excuse anymore that it’s not convenient to find what you want when needed. You can simply put the often-used items to the Quick Access Bar which is always available either at the top of the window or below the Ribbon.

6. Native support of ISO image files

Windows Explorer - ISO image

With this native support, I don’t need the 3rd party virtual drive to open my many ISO files anymore.

7. Delete file without confirmation box

Windows Explorer - Recycle Bin Properties

It doesn’t really make sense having the confirmation box popping up asking “Are you sure” every time when we delete a file or folder when the items can still be recovered from the Recycle Bin, does it?

To disable the Confirmation box, right-click the Recycle bin, choose Properties. And uncheck the option “Display delete confirmation dialog“.

/update on Nov. 26, 2013/

Alan Wade left a comment below raising a very good point that against the idea of disabling the confirmation of deleting file. If you have set the size of your to recycle bin with a smaller size, any files larger than that size will get permanently deleted without going into the recycle bin. In that case, I agree that it might be a good idea leaving the confirmation window on to prevent something like this from happening.

8. SkyDrive and how to change the default location

SkyDrive is now tightly integrated into the system in Windows 8.1. The file sync is on by default and can be managed directly from PC Settings. Everything is done automatically, no more need for a separate client. But there is a small downside to this tightly integrated solution. If you are running Windows on a small capacity SSD, you will find space would be filled up fairly quickly with SkyDrive synced files, even with the new feature called the smart file that only downloads the files from SkyDrive when needed.

To change the default location of SkyDrive, go to File Explorer, right-click SkyDrive from the left navigation panel, and choose Properties. Then change the default location in Location tab.

Change default SkyDrive location on Windows 8.1

Change default SkyDrive location on Windows 8.1

9. How to open File Explorer as Different User

Running File Explorer as Administrator is fairly easy but not so much if I want to run it as a different user, which used to be fairly easy on Windows 7. But there is a workaround you can follow.

10. The hidden Exit Explorer option

Go to desktop in Windows 8 or 8.1, hold down Ctrl & Shift key and right-click the blank space in Taskbar, and you will find it there.

Hidden Exit Explorer in Windows 8

And that’s it for now. As a bonus, in case you don’t know, the easiest way to open File Explorer on all Windows is to press Win + E.

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 04/25/2016

Posted in: Tips & Tricks , Windows 8
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Alan Wade
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“It doesn’t really make sense having the confirmation box popping up asking “Are you sure” every time when we delete a file or folder when the items can still be recovered from the Recycle Bin, does it?” That’s a debatable point! I for one always turn off that confirmation box as I never delete anything that I didnt want to and if I did and it was so important then restoring from an image, is one way to get it back. Anyway, if you have reduced the ReCycle Bin’s allocation to something more sensible like 100 Mb and you are… Read more »
Kent Chen
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That’s a good point, Alan.

JMacGill
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Delete file without confirmation box
Isn’t the confirmation box OFF by default in Windows 8?

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