What Is File Explorer (Windows)?


Files and folders are an important part of the operating system and daily computer usage. File Explorer is a generic term used to describe an application or tool which is used to manage files and folders in an operating system. But generally, the term File Explorer is used for the Windows operating system file explorer. Windows File Explorer is first provided with the Windows 95 operating system and provided for all later operating systems like Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 8, and Windows 10. File Explorer added more features for releases. File Explorer also provides Windows Server operating system family-like Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019.

File Explorer History

As sated in the begging the File Explorer has a long history which begins in 1995 with the Microsoft Windows 95 version. The File Explorer is released with a preview edition named NewShell which is intended for a replace for the Windows 3.X Program and File Manager.

With the popularity of the File Explorer Windows 98 provided with Internet Explorer integration by providing navigation buttons like back, forward, address bar, etc.

In Windows ME and Windows 2000 Web-style folders provided more polished preview and ability to show or play file contents in the left sidebar like mp3 file.

Windows XP provided major changes to the File Explorer where visually polished and new features like Task Pane , Search Companion , Image Handling etc.

Windows Vista version File Explorer provided more accurate search, organization and meta data with polished layout and icons.

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Windows 7 added Libraries, Visual Folders, Federated Search options.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 added new design with ribbon bar which also includes more detailed file operations inside it. Also files operations can b epaused and continued later in this version of the File Explorer.

Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 added more extensive search features with OneDrive integration.

Open File Explorer

In order to use File Explorer, we should open it which can be done in different ways. All different methods to open File Explorer is explained in detail in the following tutorial. The most practical way is to use the WIN+E keyboard shortcuts or the FileExplorer icon from the taskbar.

Open File Explorer

File Explorer GUI

As we explained the design and GUI of the File Explorer have changed a lot during past versions. The latest Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 version File Explorer provides the following screen.

File Explorer GUI

Menu provides different ribbon categories like File , Home , Share and View for different operations.

Sidebar provides quick and easy access to the other directories and path easily with just single of few clicks. By default links to the Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos directories and OneDrive, This PC and Network provided. This sidebar can be also customized other paths and locations.

Content provides the files and folders in different view settings like list, icon etc.

Address Bar provides current folder location in an elegant way and can be used to changed current location, path or directory shown in the Content area.

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Search is one of the most important part which provides advanced search features for files and folders like size, name, extension, location, etc.

File Explorer, Operations and Features

File Explorer provides different operations and features in order to manage files and folders. In this part, we will examine some of the important features of the File Explorer.

List Files and Folders

The most popular and basic feature of the File Explorer is listing and displaying files and folders.. Just navigate to the path you want to list.

List Files and Folders

Run Application, Software or Tool

File Explorer also lists different applications, software, tool and executable files. We can easily run these by double clicking on them which will work in most of the case.

Copy and Paste Files or Folders

We can copy and paste by using the mouse by clicking right on the file of folder we want to copy. And then click right on the location we want to copy and click Paste like below.

Copy and Paste Files or Folders

Move Files or Folders

We can move files and folders by cutting and pasting them easily.

Move Files or Folders

Rename Files or Folders

We can rename files and folders with the Rename from right click. then the file or folder name will be dark and editable where we will set the new name of the files or folder. If the provided name is not valid the old name will be reverted.

Rename Files or Folders

Set new name like below.

Rename Files or Folders

Delete Files or Folders

We can delete files and folder with the Delete which will ask for confimartion for deletion. The deleted files will be moved into the Recycle Bin and can be reverted from there if they are not deleted permanently.

Delete Files or Folders

Search Files or Folders

One of the most popular feature of the File Explorer is searching files and folders. We can use the search box on the left upper corner. We can provide different terms for search like the name or the extension. In the following example file extension *.exe searched and the results are listed in the content box.

Search Files or Folders

Show Files and Folders Information and Attributes

We can show the files and folders from the menu by clicking to the Properties like below.

Show Files and Folders Information and Attributes

In the following files and folder properties window we will see detailed information like file name,, size, location, access time, attributes, compability, details, security etc.

Show Files and Folders Information and Attributes

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