Hidden Features of Windows File Explorer You Might Not Know About

Many of us use our computers on a daily basis, whether for work, school, or leisure. Central to this activity is the Windows File Explorer, an application that helps us manage documents and folders on our Windows-powered machines. Despite being an integral part of our digital lives, many are unaware of the vast array of hidden features that lie beneath the surface of this application. This blog post aims to reveal these hidden gems, empowering you to get the most out of your File Explorer experience.

Customizing the Quick Access Menu


The Quick Access Menu, situated at the top left of your File Explorer window, is a powerful tool. It allows you to swiftly navigate to your frequently visited locations, boosting productivity by reducing the need for cumbersome navigation. Customization of the Quick Access section involves adding, removing, or rearranging items. To add a folder, navigate to it, right-click on the “Quick Access” heading, and select “Pin current folder to Quick Access”. To remove an item, right-click on it within the Quick Access Menu and select “Unpin from Quick Access”. Drag and drop can be used to rearrange items, making this feature incredibly versatile and personalized to your needs.

Advanced Search Techniques

Basic search functionality is a known feature of Windows File Explorer, allowing users to locate docs and folders easily. However, advanced search techniques offer much more precision and flexibility. Using wildcards like “*” or “?” can find docs of certain types or matching certain patterns. Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT can further refine your search, permitting complex queries. For instance, “kind: music genre: jazz” would yield all jazz music documents, showcasing the immense power of advanced search techniques available.

Quick File/Folder Navigation

File Explorer is replete with navigation shortcuts to expedite your file and folder traversal. Keyboard shortcuts like “Alt+Up” open parent folders, “Ctrl+Shift+N” creates new folders, and “F5” refreshes the view. Breadcrumb navigation, available at the top of the File Explorer window, lets you jump to any location within the current path. This makes navigating complex folder structures a breeze, saving you valuable time.

Tagging for Windows


Tagging for Windows is an innovative feature that redefines the way you organize and navigate documents and folders in Windows File Explorer. It saves you time by making docs and folders instantly identifiable and searchable, irrespective of their location or file type. This tagging feature is directly accessible in the explorer, allowing you to tag any document or folder without altering its name, location, or content. Tags can be arranged in a structure that suits your needs, providing a flexible and intuitive organizational system. It’s like having a personalized indexing system right at your fingertips, revolutionizing the way you manage your digital docs. Truly, tagging for Windows is a game-changer in document organization, turning chaos into order.

File/Folder Management Tips

Beyond basic file and folder management lie several hidden gems. Batch renaming, for instance, allows renaming multiple docs in one go—select the files, right-click and choose “Rename”. The “Details” view reveals documents properties that can be used to sort and organize them. The “Copy as Path” feature, accessed by shift-right-clicking a file, copies the full docs path, simplifying tasks like documents referencing in scripts.

Integration with OneDrive

It seamlessly integrates with OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service. This integration lets you access your cloud docs directly from File Explorer. Furthermore, OneDrive allows offline access, making your documents available even without the internet. The syncing feature ensures your docs are always up-to-date across devices.

File Compression and Extraction


File Explorer includes built-in file compression and extraction capabilities. Right-clicking a file or folder and selecting “Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder” creates a compressed ZIP file, saving storage space. To extract contents, simply right-click a ZIP file and select “Extract All”. Third-party tools like WinRAR or 7-Zip offer additional functionality like support for different formats and password protection.

Accessing the Secret Send To Menu

The “Send To” menu, accessed by right-clicking a document, offers quick options for docs actions like sending to a mail recipient or a compressed folder. However, a secret extended “Send To” menu can be revealed by holding the “Shift” key while right-clicking. This hidden menu includes additional destinations like specific folders or applications, boosting productivity.

Utilizing the Clipboard Manager

The Clipboard Manager, a lesser-known feature, enhances the basic copy-paste functionality. Enabled by pressing “Win+V”, it allows you to view and select from a list of previously copied items, offering a significant productivity boost. You can even pin frequently used items for easy access.

Previewing Files with the Preview Pane


The Preview Pane in Windows File Explorer allows you to quickly preview various document types without opening them. Accessed via the “View” tab, it can display previews for images, documents, videos, and more. This feature greatly improves documents browsing efficiency, particularly for visually oriented tasks.

Mastering Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts greatly enhance productivity in File Explorer. These include navigation shortcuts like “Alt+Left” for backward navigation, docs management shortcuts like “Ctrl+Z” for undo, and search shortcuts like “Ctrl+F” for find. By incorporating these shortcuts into your regular workflow, you can significantly enhance your productivity.

Tips for Touchscreen Users

Touchscreen device users can also get the most out of Windows File Explorer. Gestures like long-press for right-click, pinch for zoom, and two-finger scroll simplify touch-based documents management. Tablet mode, accessible via the Action Center, optimizes the File Explorer interface for touch, making it a breeze to use on tablets and hybrid devices.

The Windows File Explorer is indeed a treasure trove of features and shortcuts designed to make your digital life more efficient. By exploring and mastering these hidden features, you can transform the way you manage your docs and folders, making every moment at your computer more productive.

The Future of Windows File Explorer


As technology continues to evolve, we can expect the Windows File Explorer to follow suit. Microsoft is continuously working on updates and enhancements, striving to deliver a more intuitive, efficient, and personalized user experience. Future iterations of File Explorer might include better integration with Microsoft’s ecosystem, advanced AI-based search capabilities, and improved accessibility features. We might also see a more streamlined interface that adapts to user behavior, predictive typing for faster search, and better cloud integration, making documents management even more seamless and efficient.


To sum up, the Windows File Explorer, while seemingly simple, is a powerful tool packed with hidden features that can significantly enhance your productivity and ease your digital life. These capabilities, whether it’s quick file navigation, advanced search, or seamless cloud integration, can transform the way you interact with your documents and folders. As we look forward to what the future holds for this essential tool, it’s clear that mastering the File Explorer of today is a worthwhile endeavor. Embrace these hidden gems, and your journey in the digital world will be that much smoother and efficient.