In Windows, File Explorer is one of the most used programs. While File Explorer looks simple, it is quite powerful and versatile. In fact, it has several hidden or hard to find options that can make your life easier. Here are some helpful File Explorer tips to consider.

1. Show file extensions

I’m really not sure why Windows still doesn’t enable this option by default, but it’s important that you configure File Explorer to show file extensions for all files, not just unknown files. The good thing is that activating this option is pretty easy. Just open Windows Explorer, click the “View” tab, then select the “Filename Extensions” box and you’re done.

2. Make this computer the default page

When you open File Explorer, it opens directly to the Quick main page by default. Usually, the Quick Access page lists frequently used folders and recent files. However, if you are like me and want quick access to different drives, it is best to change the default page of the File Explorer page to This Computer.

File Explorer Tips 02 This Computer

To do this, click the “Display” tab and then the “Settings” button. In the Folder Options window, select “Open File Manager On” from the “This Computer” drop-down menu and click the “OK” button.

3. Enable the check boxes

In Windows, you can select and hold multiple files or folders Ctrl and clicking the file or folder with the mouse. Alternatively, you can activate the check box feature, which allows you to select multiple files without holding down the button Ctrl key. The check box feature is very useful when you do not know which files or folders to select. To activate the feature, open Windows Explorer, click the “View” tab, and select “Destination check boxes.”

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Tips for File Explorer 03 check boxes

After enabling this option, you’ll see a check box to the left of the file or folder name. Select the box to select the file.

4. Show the full path in the title bar

No matter where you are in File Explorer, it displays the folder path as the navigation path in the address bar. Until you click the address, you will not see the full path. If you want, you can make File Explorer display the full path. To do this, go to the “View” tab and click the “Settings” button.

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File Explorer Tips 04 Full Path

In the Settings window, go to the “View” tab, select the “Show full path in the title bar” box and click the “OK” button.

5. Start the files in a separate process

If you’ve been using Windows long enough, you may have seen File Explorer crash under certain conditions. When you start multiple folders and one folder crashes, all folders are compressed with the offending folder. This is because File Explorer works in a single process instance. To prevent this hard crash, configure File Explorer to launch folders in separate processes.

Tips for separate processes in File Explorer 05

Activate the separate process function by going to the “View” tab and clicking the “Settings” button. Now go to the “View” tab, check the box “Start the Windows folder in a separate process” and click the “Ok” button.

6. Expand the folder in the navigation pane

Tips for File Explorer 06 Expand your navigation

When you browse different folders in File Explorer, you will see that it highlights the root drive of the folder. If you wish, you can expand the navigation manually. However, auto-expanding the folder tree is very useful for quick navigation. To do this, open the Folder Options window by clicking the “Options” button on the “View” tab. Then go to the View tab and select the Show all folders check box.

7. Hide recent activity in File Explorer

File Explorer Tips 07 Hide recent activity

By default, File Explorer lists your recent activities directly on the home page. While this is useful and gives you quick access to your recent files, if you don’t like this activity, you can prevent File Explorer from tracking and listing your activity. To do this, open the Folder Options window and clear the “Show recently used files in quick access” and “Show frequently used folders in quick access” checkboxes. Click the “OK” button to save the changes.

8. Use the search bar


File Explorer’s built-in search is quite powerful. For example, you can use the search bar to search for files by specific words, dates, file size, extension, wildcards, and so on. I have already written a detailed article on using the Windows Explorer search bar. Check it out.

Comment below and share your thoughts and experiences on using the File Explorer tips above.

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