File Explorer – Windows Blog by Brink

File Explorer

Move Home to Top or Bottom of Navigation Pane in Windows 11

Starting with Windows 11 build 22593, Quick access is now called Home. The name Quick access has been repurposed for the pinned/frequent Folders section and Pinned files is now called Favorites to align with Office and OneDrive. Recent and pinned files displayed in Home are now searchable using the search box in File Explorer even if they are not local files, so you can find Office files recently shared with you.

  • Quick access¬†= Displays up to 11 folders that you¬†pinned¬†or frequently opened on the system.
  • Favorites¬†= Pinned files.
  • Recent¬†(Recent files) = Displays up to 25 files that you most recently opened.

Home will show at the top of the navigation pane in File Explorer by default.

If you like, you can move Home to show at the bottom of the navigation pane just above This PC in File Explorer.

This tutorial will show you how to move Home to show at the top or bottom of the navigation pane in File Explorer for your account in Windows 11.

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Move Libraries Above or Below This PC in Navigation Pane in Windows 11

Windows 7 introduced¬†libraries, which provide users with a single, coherent view of their files even when those files are stored in different locations. Libraries can be configured and organized by a user and a library can contain folders that are found on the user’s computer and also folders that have been shared over a network. Libraries present a simpler view of the underlying storage system because, to the user, the files and folders in a library are displayed in one single view location, no matter where they are actually physically stored.

In File Explorer, users interact with libraries in ways similar to how they would interact with other folders. Libraries are built upon the legacy known folders (such as Camera Roll, Documents, Music, Pictures, Saved Pictures, and Videos), and these known folders are automatically included in the default libraries and set as the default save location.

When you set to show libraries in the navigation pane of File Explorer, Libraries will show below This PC in the navigation pane by default.

If you like, you can move Libraries to show above This PC and right below Home in the navigation pane of File Explorer.

This tutorial will show you how to move Libraries to show above or below This PC in the navigation pane of File Explorer for your account in Windows 11.

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Turn On or Off Hide Empty Drives in Windows 11

An empty drive is a drive with no media. For example, a connected media card reader without a SD card inserted.

File Explorer will hide empty drives by default.

If you turn on Show all folders for the navigation pane in File Explorer, empty drives will always show in the navigation pane even if you turned on Hide empty drives.

If you turn on Show hidden files, folders, and drives in Folder Options, empty drives will always show as faded (dimmed) in File Explorer > This PC even if you turned on Hide empty drives.

This tutorial will show you how to turn on or off Hide empty drives for your account in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Show Full Path in File Explorer Address Bar in Windows 11

File Explorer shows breadcrumbs in the address bar by default. Breadcrumbs display the hierarchy path of folders that were navigated to for the current folder location. Contextual navigation buttons are available for each of these that can be used to access all locations that are connected to them.

Sometimes, you may want to see the full path of the current folder location in the address bar instead.

This tutorial will show you how to see the full path in the address bar of File Explorer on demand in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Enable or Disable Show OneDrive Status on Navigation Pane in Windows 11

You can use OneDrive to sync files and folders between your computer and the cloud, so you can get to your files from anywhere Рyour computer, your mobile device, and even through the OneDrive website at OneDrive.com. If you add, change, or delete a file or folder in your OneDrive folder, the file or folder is added, changed, or deleted on the OneDrive website and vice versa. You can work with your synced files directly in File Explorer and access your files even when you’re offline. Whenever you’re online, any changes that you or others make will sync automatically.

OneDrive Files On-Demand helps you access all your cloud storage in OneDrive without having to download all of them and use file storage space on your Windows device.

When you turn on Files On-Demand, you’ll see all your files in File Explorer and get new information about each file. New files created online or on another device appear as online-only files, which don’t take up space on your device. When you’re connected to the Internet, you’ll be able to use the files like every other file on your device.

You will know that Files On-Demand is turned on if you see the status icons next to your files in File Explorer.

This tutorial will show you how to turn on or off always show availability status of your OneDrive files on-demand in the navigation pane of File Explorer for your account in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Add or Remove User Folder in Navigation Pane of File Explorer in Windows 11

A¬†user profile¬†is a collection of settings that make the computer look and work the way you want it to for a user account. It is stored in the user’s¬†C:\Users\<user name>¬†profile folder, and contains the account’s settings for desktop backgrounds, screen savers, pointer preferences, sound settings, and other features. User profiles ensure that your personal preferences are used whenever you sign in to Windows.

Your account’s user profile folder contains personal folders such as the 3D Objects, Contacts, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Favorites, Links, Music, OneDrive, Pictures, Saved Games, Searches, and Videos folders.

By default, your user folder will only show on the navigation pane of File Explorer when Show all folders is turned on.

If you like, you can add the user folder to show on the navigation pane without having to turn on Show all folders. This can also be useful if you do not want your personal folders pinned to Quick access in the navigation pane, and prefer them under the separate expandable and collapsable user folder instead.

The user folder on the navigation pane will use your account’s full name.

This tutorial will show you how to add or remove the user folder on the navigation pane of File Explorer for your account in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Enable or Disable Show Preview Handlers in Preview Pane of File Explorer in Windows 11

The preview pane in File Explorer shows you the contents of a file, such as image or text files, without having to open it with an app.

Preview handlers show the content of text files (ex: .bat, .cmd, .html, .ps1, .reg, .txt, etc…) in the preview pane.

This tutorial will show you how to enable or disable showing preview handlers in the the preview pane of File Explorer for your account in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Cut, Copy, and Paste in File Explorer in Windows 11

Windows 11 makes it easy to Cut, Copy, and Paste items in File Explorer and on your Desktop.

When you Cut or Copy an item, it is temporarily saved to the Clipboard.

When you Paste and item you cut, the contents of the Clipboard is used to move the item where you want.

When you Paste and item you copied, the contents of the Clipboard is used to duplicate the item where you want.

This tutorial will show you different ways to Cut, Copy, and Paste items in File Explorer in Windows 11.

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Add or Remove Media Server in Windows 11 File Explorer

DLNA media streaming¬†allows you to share media from your account’s personal Music, Pictures, PlayLists, and Videos folders to other users (same computer), computers, and DLNA supported devices on your network. It also allows you to receive media from other computers and DLNA supported devices.

If you turned on DLNA media streaming, your media library will automatically show as a media server in File Explorer > This PC on all devices you allowed to share you media library with.

You can remove a media server someone allowed your Windows device to access if you no longer want this media server to show in your File Explorer > This PC.

You can also always add the removed media server back to show in your File Explorer > This PC so long as your Windows device is still allowed to access the shared media library.

This tutorial will show you how to add or remove a media server in File Explorer > This PC for all users in Windows 11.

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Enable or Disable Launch Folder Windows in a Separate Process in Windows 11

Each process running in Windows is assigned a unique decimal number called the process ID (PID) to identify an active process. This number is used to specify the process when for example attaching a debugger to it.

By default, all File Explorer windows, including the desktop shell, run in a single explorer.exe process. If one File Explorer window hangs or crashes, it will cause all File Explorer windows running in the same process to hang or crash until the process restarts.

You are able to use the Open in new process context menu to manually open folder windows (File Explorer) in a new process.

If you like, you can enable to launch folder windows in a separate process by default. This way each explorer.exe process will have its own process ID (PID) to improve stability of the explorer shell.

This tutorial will show you how to enable or disable launch folder windows in a separate explorer process by default for your account in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Reset Details and Preview Pane Width to Default in File Explorer in Windows 11

The details pane in File Explorer shows you the most common properties associated with the selected file. File properties provide more detailed info about a file, such as the author, the date you last changed the file, and any descriptive tags you might have added to the file.

The preview pane in File Explorer shows you the contents of a file, such as image or text files, without having to open it with an app.

You can drag the left border of the details or preview pane left and right to increase or decrease its width in File Explorer.

This tutorial will show you how to reset the width of the details and preview pane in File Explorer back to default for your account in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Reset Navigation Pane Width to Default in File Explorer in Windows 11

The navigation pane is the far left pane in File Explorer used to find files, folders, and drives on your PC or network.

You can drag the right border of the navigation pane left and right to increase or decrease its width in File Explorer.

Starting with Windows 11 build 25136 and build 22621.160, Microsoft is introducing a refreshed layout of the left navigation pane in File Explorer which makes it easy for you to navigate to folders that matter to you. The updated organization provides easy access to your pinned and frequently used folders (Quick access) and your OneDrive cloud profiles added to Windows. OneDrive cloud profiles reflect the user’s name associated with the account. Known Windows folders which are available by default in the navigation pane are no longer displayed under This PC to keep that view focused for your PC’s drives. When you navigate to folders syncing to OneDrive such as Documents, Pictures, etc., the address bar displays the correct path to help bring clarity when your folders are on the cloud vs when they are local to you.

This tutorial will show you how to reset the width of the navigation pane in File Explorer back to default for your account in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Enable or Disable Numerical Sorting in File Explorer in Windows 11

File Explorer sorts file names in numerical order and not literally by default in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

When numerical sorting is enabled, File Explorer will sort file names by increasing number value (for example, 3 < 22 < 111).

When numerical sorting is disabled, File Explorer will sort file names by each digit in a file name (for example, 111 < 22 < 3).

This tutorial will show you how to enable or disable numerical sorting in File Explorer for all users in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Clear File Explorer History in Windows 11

Clearing your File Explorer history deletes the information Windows saved about the files and folders you use as well as what you’ve typed in the address bar and Run dialog.

File Explorer history consists of:

  • Recent items in the File Explorer jump list.
  • Quick access folders in File Explorer Home, except default pinned folders.
  • Favorites in File Explorer Home.
  • Recent files in File Explorer Home.
  • File Explorer address bar typed history.
  • Run dialog typed history.

This tutorial will show you how to clear the File Explorer history for your account in Windows 11.

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Add or Remove Devices and Printers in Navigation Pane of File Explorer in Windows 11

The Devices and Printers folder shows devices that are connected to a computer, including the document devices.

When you select a device in Devices and Printers, Device Stage shows the details for that device.

When you try to open Devices and Printers from the Control Panel in an Insider build of Windows 11, it will now open to Settings > Bluetooth & devices instead.

If you like, you can add Devices and Printers as its own separate group to the top or bottom of the navigation pane of File Explorer for even easier and faster access.

This tutorial will show you how to add or remove Devices and Printers in the navigation pane of File Explorer for your account in Windows 11.

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Add or Remove Menu Bar in File Explorer in Windows 11

Starting with Windows 11 build 25136 and build 22621.160, File Explorer has been updated.

To help you work across multiple locations at the same time, the title bar of File Explorer now has tabs.

File Explorer also has a new refreshed layout of the left navigation pane which makes it easy for you to navigate to folders that matter to you. The updated organization provides easy access to your pinned and frequently used folders (Quick access) and your OneDrive cloud profiles added to Windows.

Due to a possible bug or by design in the new File Explorer, you can have the old menu bar always show in File Explorer if wanted. When the menu bar is turned off to not always show, you can still open the menu bar using its underline access Alt key shortcuts.

The menu bar includes the File (Alt+F), Edit (Alt+E), View (Alt+V), and Tools (Alt+T) items. The options available for these menu items will vary depending on what is open and selected in File Explorer.

This tutorial will show you how to turn on or off always show menu bar in File Explorer for your account in Windows 11.

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Add or Remove D Drive in Navigation Pane of File Explorer in Windows 11

All drives are shown under the This PC group in the navigation pane of File Explorer by default.

Removable drives are shown as separate groups in the navigation pane of File Explorer by default in addition to being shown under the This PC group in the navigation pane.

You could Pin to Quick access the Windows C: drive to also have it under the Home group in the navigation pane.

If you like, you can add the D: Drive as its own separate group to the top or bottom of the navigation pane of File Explorer for even easier and faster access.

This tutorial will show you how to add or remove the the Windows D: Drive in the navigation pane of File Explorer for your account in Windows 11.

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