Windows Tip: 12 Hidden Windows Explorer Tricks



When Microsoft re-designed  Windows Explorer interface for Vista, 7 and later versions, much added functionality was included compared to previous versions of Windows.

While some of the functionality is easily notice, a lot of built-in hidden features are not easily found or realized.

To help find these features in Window Explorer, below list the 12 hidden tricks that are easy to find while others are not.




NOTE: All Screen shots are from Vista and will be similar in newer versions such as Windows 7.

Address Bar

– If you are not used to viewing the path as Breadcrumb Trails and want to view the full path (Windows XP style), left click anywhere to the right of the path in the Address bar which will display XP style full path.

To return to Breadcrumb Trails view, press the Esc key. (Clicking where circle is shown in Address Bar, will display XP style full path).



– To quickly create a shortcut to the location you are viewing, right click anywhere to the right of the path in the Address Bar and select Copy Address.

This will put the text of the path in the clipboard allowing you to switch to your Desktop (for example) and right click and Paste Shortcut.

Since the path is stored in the clipboard, it can also be pasted in a document, email, and so on…



– If you are in a deeply nested folder where the Address Bar does not have room to show the entire path, click on the double arrows to the left of the first item (in Address Bar).

Clicking this will show the parent folders that don't fit on the Address Bar.



– Another feature found, to the right of the Back and Forward buttons (just before the Address Bar) is the Recent Items drop down button.

Items displayed in this list are recently visited locations that you can select and jump to the location with out needing to navigate using Explorer.



– Clicking anywhere on the Address bar and typing a URL such as will launch your web browser and open the site you typed.

Details Pane

– To enable, select Organize (on Command Bar) / Layout / Details Pane.

When a document , spreadsheet, etc.. is highlighted, certain Category properties in the bottom details pane can be modified to add tags, subject, titles, etc.. by mousing over the field (which displays the box) next to the Category.

When finished, click the Save bottom to the right of the Details pane.




Command Bar

– To choose different folder view options, repeating clicking on the word Views in the Command bar will rotate through the different view options such as Details, List, Small Icons, etc…



Preview Pane

– To enable the Preview Pane select Organize (on Command Bar) / Layout / Preview Pane.

Once enabled, clicking on certain files (text, documents, spreadsheets) will display the contents of the file (read only view) without needing to open the file.

When selecting a media item, a miniature player is displayed.

Filtering Folder Content Views

– Moving your mouse over a Heading will display a drop-down arrow. Clicking on the down arrow will display a set of filtering options (check boxes) that can be set for viewing items in the column.



– Notice after selecting filters, a check mark will appear to the right of the Header notifying you that filters are set for that column, and the values on which you have filtered (for example Date, File Type, Application Extensions, etc) will display in the Address Bar (clicking on the arrows before the values in the Address Bar will allow you to change the filter).



– To clear a set of filtering criteria, click to the left of the criteria on the Address Bar. In the example screenshot above, clicking on Office11 returns the folder to it's unfiltered state. To quickly return to the filtered state, click the back button (circled in above screenshot, left of the Address Bar)

– Since filtering is tied to the search engine in Windows, if you did not find what you are looking for when filtering, click Search in Subfolders found at the bottom of the filtered folder to extend the search.



I'm sure there are more hidden features that can be found in Windows Explorer. post a comment and let us know what you found!

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Dylan Austin


Whenever I have a problem, I sing. Then I realize my voice is worse than my problem.

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