Ever thought you knew exactly where an item was, only to spend hours scouring your home for it? Folders and files in your computer can wreak the same havoc. File Explorer  can help by putting you in charge of how you file your documents—everything from naming to deciding where to store them. Just like a filing cabinet, you determine your filing method. Unlike a filing cabinet, however, you can change how files are displayed, grouped, and shared in mere seconds.

This article will walk you through File Explorer to give you a better sense of how to navigate it and provide you with the information you need to help you skillfully organize your files and folders.

Navigating File Explorer

Open File Explorer by selecting the folder icon on the taskbar at the bottom of your screen. If you don’t see the file explorer on your taskbar, type File Explorer into the Search bar or press the Windows key + E on your keyboard.

File Explorer open

At the top of the File Explorer menu bar, there are four categories: File, Home, Share, and View. Below, the page is divided into two sections: Frequent folders (on top) and Recent files (below).



Your primary functions are in your starting tab. You can go here to create new files and folders, and rename or delete them.



Share gives you the ability to share files with friends, family, and co-workers, and allows you to choose your method of sharing. Select the file you’d like to share, then select the Share button in the upper left corner of your screen.

You can also share by right-clicking and selecting the file or files you want and click Share from the drop-down menu.


Hold down the CTRL key to select multiple files , or check the box next to your item. Ready to share them? Select the email icon to open your default email program.

File_Explorer_Email share

View gives several options that allow you to customize the layout of your file explorer when it opens.

The Navigation Pane allows you to see a quick breakdown of your folders per category, and your quick access pinned folders.


Turn on the preview pane by selecting the Preview Pane icon to see a thumbnail preview of the item you've selected. The feature works with Office documents, but can also work with pictures, videos, and music files.


The Details Pane is another option to review details such as the date a file was created, the last time it was modified, and who authored it. It gives you an overview of all available information about a file. It's important to note that you can't see the preview pane and the details pane at the same time.


Setting up layout

You can change what information you see at-a-glance by taking charge of your layout options. You have eight view choice small, medium, large, and extra large icons, Tiles, List, Content, and Details view.


Icon view

There are four sizes of icons: small, medium, large, and extra-large, that offer similar layouts with corresponding sized icons that show small previews of documents, photos, and videos.


Tiles view

Tiles show files in a thumbnail format so you can view content at-a-glance .


List view

List creates columns of information that allow you to scroll left to right and is useful for situations where you have many items you want to see at-a-glance.


Content view

Content gives you the most information in one location and shows you a list of your files in a thumbnail view. You can view information by document author, date modified, size, document dimensions, and file type.


Details view

Details provide information about items in your current folder. It also allows you the option to sort by a category, such as Name, Date modified, and Authors, to name a few.

If you’re currently using a different view and would like to sort your files quickly, you can select the Sort by option which gives you several choices to sort items. Just select your sorting mode and whether you want it to be in ascending or descending order. For more detailed options, select Choose columns and go to Choose Details to decide what information is shown.

Use Group by to create a custom view that separate information into groups. You can group by name, document type, tags, and categories, to name a few.



Do you have multiple files scattered on your desktop? Now, you can manage your digital files easily with pre-made folders. To get started, click Quick access, located on the left side of the screen, to view the options.


The folders are broken into six categories: Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos (you’ll have additional folders if you’re using OneDrive). Let’s go through each:

  • Desktop: The desktop is what you see when you turn on your computer and where your shortcuts to any websites you frequently visit or programs you've installed appear. You can even save pictures and other items here for later use.
  • Downloads: The default folder is where your downloads from the internet save. If you receive an email with an attachment and want to have it on your device, it'll get saved here initially, though you can choose to move it later.
  • Documents: The Documents folder is the best place to store any file that you create, particularly Microsoft Office files. Word documents, PowerPoints, and Excel Spreadsheets go perfectly here.
  • Music: If you own any music for playing back locally, storing it in the music folder allows you to help manage your collection. It has special sorting tags for categorizing by the album name, artist, and even genre!
  • Pictures: Picture’s layout is set by default to give you a preview of every photo you have, along with a Camera Roll and Saved Pictures folder to get you started on your organization. You can add other custom-named photo folders as your collection grows.
  • Videos: Like Pictures, Videos has a default folder for Captures to work in tandem with the Xbox Game bar. Click the Videos folder to view Captures or your own personal videos.

If you don’t have certain types of files like Video or Music, you won’t see all of these folders. Once you add files like music or videos, the folders will appear in your Quick Access. Now you know how to use Files Explorer to share videos or pictures with friends and co-workers, use different views to scan information about a file, and how to sort and group documents. Don’t forget that folders are a great way to start organizing your files so you’ll always know where to find an item when you need it again.