Customizing File Explorer's Display

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 23, 2015)

2

File Explorer is a popular Windows utility that lets you navigate through your hard drives and manage the files contained there. Not surprisingly, you can customize it in a variety of ways to better suit your needs. The easiest way to launch File Explorer is to press Win+E. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The File Explorer.

At the top of the Explorer window is the ribbon area which shows the tools available to you when working with files and folders. There are four tabs available: File, Home, Share, and View.

To modify what tools and what features are displayed in the Explorer, display the View tab of the ribbon. It is the tools on this ribbon that control what you see in Explorer. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The View tab of the File Explorer's ribbon.

You should spend a bit of time experimenting with the various settings on the View tab. Of particular importance are the tools in the Layout group. They control what is shown in the bulk of the Explorer window. I tend to use the Details view, which provides the most information about each of my folders and files.

If you choose Details view, you'll see different columns of data appear in the Explorer. These columns (Name, Date Modified, Type, etc.) are all optional and you can control whether they are displayed or not. To do so, right-click in the heading area (for instance, where "Date Modified" appears) and a drop-down list allows you to select what columns are displayed. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Choosing the columns to display in the Details view.

When you've decided what columns should be displayed you can sort the information in the details pane in ascending or descending order by clicking a column's header. A small arrow appears in the column header to indicate which column is being used to sort and whether the sort is ascending or descending.

Another way to customize the Details view is by grouping items together. This is done by right-clicking an empty area of the details pane and, from the resulting Context menu, selecting the Group By option. Grouping by different attributes of the files (Date, Type, Size, etc.) can make things easier to find.

If you would like Windows to remember your customizations as the default for how it displays files, try this:

  1. Display the View tab in the Explorer.
  2. Click the Options tool at the right side of the ribbon. Windows displays the Folder Options dialog box.
  3. Make sure the View tab is displayed. (See Figure 4.)
  4. Figure 4. The View tab of the Folder Options dialog box.

  5. Use the Advanced Settings area to specify what you want and don't want displayed in the Explorer window.
  6. Click Apply to Folders.
  7. Click OK to close the Folder Options dialog box.

 This tip (10160) applies to Windows 8.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Printer Name on the Status Bar

The status bar is a great place to display all sorts of information. It might not be the best place to put the name of the ...

Discover More

Hiding Columns Not within a Date Range

Want to automatically hide some columns that don't meet a date criteria that you set? You can't do it automatically, but you ...

Discover More

Allowing Passive Voice in Writing

When you have Word do grammar-checking on your document, it typically marks everything it considers wrong with the way you ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Copying Files to a CD or DVD

You can have virtually unlimited disk space if you're willing to swap discs once in a while. By copying files to a CD or DVD ...

Discover More

Getting Information about Files Searched For

Do a search for files on your computer and you may need to see more information about the results than what Windows first ...

Discover More

Checking the Archive Attribute with Robocopy

Robocopy can work on files according to each file's attributes. This tip shows you how to use Robocopy to only copy files ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 5?

2015-03-23 18:50:30

awyatt

As it says at the end of the tip, it applies only to Windows 8.

-Allen


2015-03-23 18:42:23

BHershman

I have Windows 7 - no ribbon - so this tip does not apply?


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.