10 Windows File Explorer Features You Should Be Using

Windows File Explorer is probably one of the most used tools on your PC. It’s where to find files and anything else that can be saved. A few tips and tricks can make it work better, whether you’re using Windows 10 or Windows 11.

Quickly open File Explorer

There’s a good chance you can launch File Explorer from the Start Menu, but there are actually a lot of different ways to do it. If you find yourself opening File Explorer a lot, you might want to try a new shortcut.

These shortcuts for Windows 10 It also applies to Windows 11. Two of the fastest shortcuts include right-clicking the start button and using the keyboard combination Windows key + E. Of course, pinning File Explorer to the taskbar is the fastest if you use it often.

Related: 12 ways to open File Explorer in Windows 10

Open multiple file explorer tabs

Explorer tabs in Windows 11.

Many people wanted tabs in the File Explorer feature in Windows 10, but they never arrived. Microsoft fixed this problem in Windows 11, fortunately. Microsoft has added File Explorer tabs to Windows 10 Along with the November 2022 security update.

Tabs in File Explorer basically work the same way they do in a web browser. Simply click the ‘+’ icon on the top bar to open a new Explorer tab, or right-click a folder and select ‘Open in New Tab’. You can also press Ctrl + T to open a new tab.

Windows 10 users can still have tabs in File Explorer — they’ll just need to Install a third-party app to get File Explorer tabs on Windows 10.

Add Recycle Bin and Control Panel to File Explorer

See all folders in quick access.

By default, the Recycle Bin and Control Panel are not shown in File Explorer. However, you can easily unhide them for quick access — and you don’t even have to use Quick Access.

To do this, open File Explorer and right-click any empty space in the left sidebar. Activate Show All Folders from the menu, and you will see the Recycle Bin and Control Panel. That’s it!

Show the File Explorer preview pane

An example of the preview pane in Windows 10 File Explorer

If you’re looking for a specific file, but can’t remember the file’s name, the preview pane in File Explorer allows you to take a peek without opening the file. It is not enabled by default, but you must enable it.

Enabling the preview pane is different Windows 10 operating system and Windows 11. In Windows 11, open File Explorer and select View in the top toolbar. Then click Show > Preview Pane from the menu. Now, when you select a file, you will see a preview in the right sidebar.

Related: How to show the File Explorer preview pane on Windows 10

Delete search history from File Explorer

Windows saves the search terms that you use in File Explorer. This is useful for frequent searches, but you may want to clear the suggestions from time to time. Fortunately, this is easy to do in Windows 10 and 11.

First, you can simply right-click on a term and select Remove from device history. If you want to remove your complete search history, you can do that as well. Follow our guide to do this in Windows 10. For Windows 11, you will need to click on the three dots icon in the top toolbar and go to Options. From the options window, click on Clear next to Clear File Explorer History.

Related: How to delete search history in Windows File Explorer

Run File Explorer as administrator

Run File Explorer as administrator.

By default, when you open File Explorer on Windows 11, it opens with standard privileges. However, you may need to run it with high privileges to perform certain tasks or to see more options. You will need to Run File Explorer as administrator For this.

Unlike most applications, you can’t simply right-click and select Run as Administrator. Instead, you have to find the Explorer EXE and right-click on it to “Run as Administrator”. For both Windows 10 and 11, you can find the file at This PC > Windows (C:) > Windows.

Related: How to run File Explorer as administrator in Windows 11

Turn off File Explorer check boxes

Example of a checkmark to choose a file in Windows 11 File Explorer.

start in Windows Vista operating system, File Explorer showed check boxes when a file was selected. This is to indicate that you can select multiple items, but you may find them unnecessary and annoying.

The good news is that it’s easy to hide (or show) checkboxes in Windows 11 and Windows 10. The process is the same in Windows 10 and 11, but in Windows 10, you can skip clicking View from the View menu.

Related: How to turn off File Explorer checkboxes on Windows 11

Add or remove folders from Quick Access

Quick Access is the area in the left sidebar of File Explorer that folders can be pinned to, you guessed it, for Quick Access. It’s populated with some common folders by default, but you have to Customize it for yourself.

All you have to do is right-click on a folder and select Pin to Quick Access or Unpin to Quick Access. Now you don’t have to search for the folder every time.

Related: How to customize the File Explorer Quick Access Toolbar in Windows 10

Add Google Drive to File Explorer

Google Drive in Windows File Explorer.

Windows File Explorer doesn’t have to be just for Windows files. You can also add a shortcut to Google Drive directly in File Explorer. Google provides a tool to get this up and running. When you’re done, you’ll have a new “G:” drive in File Explorer for Google Drive.

Related: How to add Google Drive to File Explorer

Set File Explorer to open on “This PC”

Change where File Explorer opens.

Windows 10 and 11 open File Explorer to Quick Access folders by default – Windows 11 calls this “Home”. You can change it to open This PC instead.

For Windows 11, click the three-dot icon in the File Explorer toolbar and go to Options > Open File Explorer To and select This PC. Click Apply.

For Windows 10, click on the View tab in File Explorer and select Options. Under Open File Explorer To, select This PC and click Apply.

File explorer is a must use tool for Productivity on a Windows PC, so it is important that it works exactly the way you want it to. Hopefully, with these tips and tricks in your back pocket, there will be less friction between you and your files.

Related: 10 hidden features of Windows 10 that you must be using

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