Get Help with File Explorer in Windows 10 – Step by Step Tutorials

Windows 10 has come with some changes. For one, windows explorer has been renamed to file explorer. The file explorer also has a new interface featuring a ribbon instead of the earlier version of the drop-down menus.

Getting started with the file explorer may need a little learning but after that, you are able to fully utilize all its features. It really is a great tool that consolidates all you have stored in your PC in one place where you can easily access.

How to Access File Explorer

  • Taskbar

Once you power on your PC, there is that column on the bottom of the screen with a couple of icons. File Explorer can be accessed from here provided the program has been pinned prior to operation. In most cases, the PC comes with it on the taskbar already.

  • Start menu

You are easily able to access the file explorer after clicking the window start icon. However, for some PCs, this may not appear among the different apps on the menu which is fine. You can try any other ways.

  • Search tool

On your taskbar, there is a little tool that comes in very handy when you don’t know where to find certain things. You can easily type in the word “File Explorer” in the search bar and it will turn up results.

  • Power user task menu

By right clicking on the windows start icon you are able to access the power user menu. You could also press the window logo key on your keyboard and X together and get the same result. Once you are on the menu you are able to access the file explorer listed on the menu.

  • Shortcut key

By pressing the “windows start logo” and E together, you are able to access the file explorer immediately.

Features in Windows 10 File Explorer

The file Explorer contains one menu and a few core tabs which are always visible. The tabs found on the upper menu are home, share, and view. On the left side of the file explorer, you have a set of commands and frequent folders on the right.

  • Home Tab

This tab is found on the top left corner of the file explorer. It comes in very handy, especially when using the most used file management commands like copying, opening files or even deleting.

The home tab contains 5 categories in the drop-down menu;

  • Clipboard

The clipboard contains the copy, paste, and copy path commands which are very useful.

  • Organize

This includes a copy to, move to, delete and rename commands which in previous versions were all hidden away in the edit menu. The best part about this is having them readily accessible when the need arises.

  • New

This tab helps you create new files and folders and add them to an existing library.

  • Open

Gives you access to the files you want to open and it also provides quick access to the properties box. With properties, you are able to see where a selected file is stored, how large it is and can customize it to your liking.

  • Select

With this, you are able to select groups of files and folders to either move, copy or delete.

  • Share Tab

This is the all in one tab when it comes to sending files. Here you are able to make a zip file, email any documents, burn files to a disk, and fax. You have the option of sharing with specific people, setting specific permissions and removing access.

  • View Tab

This tab includes the controls used for the display of the file explorer. Generally referring to how the file explorer looks like.

It is divided into 4;

  • Panes

You can easily configure the navigation pane to either show all folders or libraries and also enable or disable the preview and display pane.

  • Layout

This section gives a live display of how you’d want your files to appear. You simply need to hover over the icons and the display will change.

  • Current view

Here you have the option of sorting your files and grouping them either by name, size, type, and many others. You can also add columns to get a better view of all your files in the file explorer.

  • Show/hide

This helps you choose which file to appear on the file explorer and hide those that you don’t want being seen.


  • One Drive

This is the best way to save files without worrying about running out of space. The best part is that you can save your files and also sync one drive to your PC.

  • This PC

This is where you find all the files you have saved in your desktop. It also includes all your hard drives. With file explorer, you are able to access your hard drives with ease compared to before.

  • Quick access

It is divided into two; frequent folders and recent file. You are able to find all your recent files once you open the file explorer. However, you should make sure that your file explorer opens to quick access and not This PC.

How to Find Files

  • Using filters

The filter feature is very useful especially when you have too many files in your PC. It helps you narrow down and displays the files you are interested in at the moment.

These filters are only accessible in the details view. They are located at the column headers that display at the top when viewing any files. The filters are divided into; Name, Date Modified, Type, and Size. In each of these, when you click on the arrow you get a few options with checkboxes. Once you tick any of the boxes, the filters are applied and you get to see the files that pertain to your specific requirements.

To remove the filters, you can click on the back button or just clear the checkboxes.

  • Using the search tab

The search tab is located on the top right corner of the file explorer. It is divided into three categories;

  • Location

Here you find current folders and all subfolders. This can be better used to target your search and ensure you get what you are looking for. If you don’t know where the file is you can click on this PC on the top left corner to ensure the search involves the whole computer.

  • Refined

This feature helps you narrow your search even further. The filters include date modified, kind, size, and other properties.

  • Options

It doesn’t include filters but it does include features such as; recent searches which display your history searches with this, you also have the option to clear your search history.

In the advanced options, you are able to sort your search according to system files, zipped folders or file contents.  

The Quick Access Sidebar

This is a very helpful addition to the file explorer. You are able to see all your recent searches and can even pin folders to the sidebar. To pin any folder to quick access you simply have to right click on the folder which will give you a couple of options. You want to choose the pin to quick access option to ensure your folder is included.

Enabling/Disabling Quick Access to the Main Screen

For most PCs when you first open the file explorer it takes you to This PC. However, this is not convenient for everyone because for some they prefer having quick access to their files. Hence the need to enable quick access to the main screen. You can do this by;

  • Click on “File” and choose change folder and file options
  • Then go to “open file explorer to” and click on the drop down arrow. It will give you two options either quick access or This PC. By selecting quick access it will be the first thing you see when you open file explorer. You will be able to see all your recent files.
  • Also, check off the two boxes in the privacy section to ensure quick access serves you well.

How to Make File Explorer Open Specific Folders

For some people, they would like to see specific folders once the open the file explorer. You can do this by pinning the folders to your file explorer which is the easiest and fastest way. The folders and files that you pin also appear on the sub-menu after right-clicking on the file explorer icon. It also includes recently opened files.

So whenever you need any files and can’t be bothered to search for them be sure to pin to ensure you get them at an instant.

The other way to do this is by creating a shortcut for the file explorer. You will need to locate the executable file (explorer.exe) but keep in mind that you can’t change how it works. Right-click the executable file and choose the option “create shortcut menu”. The shortcut file will appear on your desktop by default. By clicking on the shortcut, it will open the file explorer just like before. You will be in a position to access all your files with ease.

Also Read: Where is “My Documents” on Windows 10,8.1,8,7, Vista and XP?

File Explorer Windows 10 Shortcuts

File Explorer has a few hotkeys and shortcuts that might be of benefit to you. The best way to find them is by hovering over the toolbar with your mouse which will bring a small text box with keyboard shortcuts.

The shortcuts include;

  • Ctrl+C – Copy selected item to the clipboard
  • Ctrl+V – Paste the contents of the clipboard to the current location
  • Ctrl+X – Move the selected items to the clipboard
  • Ctrl+D – Move selected items to the recycle bin or permanently delete them.
  • F2 – Rename the selected item
  • Ctrl+Shift+N – Create a new folder
  • Alt+Enter – Show the properties of the selected items
  • Ctrl+A – Select all items in this view
  • F5 – Refresh Quick Access
  • Alt+P – Show/hide the preview pane
  • Alt+Shift+P – Show/hide the detail pane
  • Alt+Up Arrow – Up to “Desktop”
  • Alt+Right Arrow – Forward
  • Alt+Left Arrow – Back
  • Ctrl+F1 – Minimize the Ribbon
  • Alt+D – Go to the Address bar
  • Ctrl+E -Go to the search box or activate the search bar in the file explorer.
  • Ctrl+Mouse wheel up or down – Increase or decrease the size of icons in the file explorer.
  • Ctrl+N – Open a new file explorer window
  • Ctrl+Shift+E – Display all folders above the selected folder
  • Ctrl+W – Close the current file explorer window
  • F11 – Maximize or Minimize the active file explorer window
  • Home – Displays the top item on the active window

These shortcuts should make navigating file explorer way much easier and faster.

File Explorer Not Working

At times you may find that your file explorer didn’t open even after double clicking or right clicking to reveal the sub-menu. Your file explorer will have most likely crashed thus not being of much help.

To be able to address this issue you need to;

  • Restart File Explorer in Task Manager

To do this you need to,

  • Go to task manager or press Ctrl+Shift+Esc
  • Right click on windows explorer and choose end task
  • Go to the upper left corner of the task manager and click on run new task
  • On the open tab, key in explorer.exe and then press enter

After this, the file explorer should open once again. Check to see if it works if not try this second fix.

  • Use CMD to manually restart it

  • Search for CMD in the search box and click the best match to open the command prompt window.
  • Key in “taskkill/f /im explorer.exe” in the command prompt window and press Enter. This will end the process and leave you with a black screen.
  • Next insert start explorer.exe and press enter. This will start the file explorer process again.

After this, all your desktop icons and taskbar will be back.

  • Change display settings

This might not have much to do with the file explorer not working. However, you should also remember that if any of the file’s text is too big, it could cause the PC to be slow thus causing the file explorer problem. You should make sure all your files are within the recommended size.

  • Click on star and go to settings then after choose system
  • Go to display and change the size of your text to 100%

You can now check to see whether it has worked.



Having covered all the basics of the file explorer, you should be able to easily navigate it and use it to its full potential. Take your time to thoroughly understand file explorer to be able to easily access your files, your hard disks, and all the other items in your PC.


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