NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, Seprember 2007
Exploring Windows Explorer – Part 2
By Jim Sanders,
Vice President, North Orange County Computer Club, California

(click to email author)

Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.

This is part two of Exploring Windows Explorer with the idea of learning how useful this tool can be.

There are several ways to bring up Windows explorer. Click means left click unless preceded by the word right. In no particular order:

1. Click on Start, hover the mouse pointer over All Programs till the window with all options appears, click on Accessories to open the sub-window, then click on Windows explorer. On most machines, it will open with the My Documents directory/folder highlighted and expanded.

2. Right click on Start to open the options window, click on Windows Explorer. On most machines, it will open with the Start Menu directory/folder highlighted and expanded. This is usually down four directory levels with the path - Local Disk (C:)/Documents and Settings/(current user name for that machine)/Start Menu.

3. Click on Start, on the default XP menu, click on My Computer, this opens Windows Explorer in the Task Pane mode. This is also true if you click on My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, or My Network Places. For most people this means navigating down a path one directory at a time, then backing out one directory at a time with the left arrow in the green circle. If you have followed the advice in part 1, at least you can see the path to where you are at in the address bar. Very few people that use this mode make use of the history file provided by the little down arrows next to the left and right arrows. The history files can speed up navigation quite a bit, but in my opinion are nowhere near as efficient as having the Folders Pane visible instead of the Task Pane. Clicking on the Folders icon in the Menu Bar causes the full tree structure to be displayed in the left hand pane. That allows much more efficient navigation of the files on your disk(s).

4. Double click on the My Computer icon on the desktop - takes you to the same place as #3.

5. Depressing either Windows key (the ones with the MS flag icon and the word "start" on them) and then tapping the "E" key, opens Windows Explorer in the Folder mode with My Computer highlighted.

6. Depressing either Windows key, and then tapping the "F" key, opens Windows Explorer in the Search mode with the left pane asking: "What do you want to search for?" You then have the option os choosing several different categories of search including my most common choice – All files and folders.

7. Clicking on Start and then Search opens Windows Explorer in the same mode as #6.

8. Right click on start, then click on Search, opens Windows Explorer in the Search mode with the left pane stating: “Search by any or all of the criteria below.” This is the same location you end up at if you choose path #6 and then click on – All files and folders.

But wait, if that’s not enough ways to open Windows Explorer, there’s more!

9. You can make Windows Explorer part of the start menu with the following sequence: Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> right-click on Windows Explorer -> Pin to Start menu

10. You can put a Windows Explorer icon in the Quick Launch portion of the Taskbar with this sequence: right click Start, click explorer, click on the WINDOWS folder, in the right pane, scroll down to explorer.exe and right click it, when the option window opens, click on “create shortcut”, place the mouse cursor over the new shortcut, depress and hold the right mouse button then drag the new shortcut to the Quick Launch part of the Taskbar. Release the right mouse button and click on “Move Here.” (place “quick launch.jpg” here)What!, you say you don’t have a Quick Launch area, probably because the XP default for that feature is set to disable. You can fix that by right clicking on the Taskbar, hovering over the Toolbars entry till the options window opens, then click on the Quick Launch entry to set a check mark next to it and enable that feature. Once the icon is in place, a single click on the Windows Explorer icon will launch it.

11. You can put a Windows Explorer icon desktop with this sequence: right click Start, click explorer, click on the WINDOWS folder, in the right pane, scroll down to explorer.exe and right click it, when the option window opens click on create shortcut, then click and drag the new shortcut to the desktop. Right click on the shortcut icon you just created and when the option window opens, click on properties. When the properties window opens, click on the Shortcut tab and edit the Target line to have Window Explorer open with the directory of your choice displayed. This is an example of an edited Target line: C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe /e, /root,c: /select,C:\Documents and Settings\Jim.LIAN-LI\My Documents\NOCCC related files. By substituting the path of your choice for the “C:\Documents and Settings\Jim.LIAN-LI\My Documents\NOCCC related files” portion of the above example, you can have Windows Explorer open and display the directory of your choice.

As noted in part 1, the default columns that are displayed in the Window Explorer detail view are: Name, Size, Type, Date Modified. But you should know that they are just four of the 45 possible column types. Not all column types are pertinent for a given file type. For example, Bit Rate is not going to be very useful in a directory full of *.jpg or *.tif files. Camera Model is not very useful in a directory full of *.mp3 files. As hard disks are humongous today (see article -How big is a 300 GB hard disk), more and more people have large collections of pictures, video, music and Microsoft Office document files on their computer (and far too many are not backed up). The ID3 headers on MP3 files can provide a lot of information about each track. To easily see that information, you need to turn on more column details. You can not break anything by playing with these options. Click on View, when the menu opens, click on Choose Details, (place “Insert Details.jpg” here)click on an item in the list to place a check mark in the box which activates the feature, then click on a directory and look at the results. If you don’t like the results, repeat the procedure to remove the check mark and it is gone.

The following is the complete list of possible column types: Name, Size, Type, Date Modified, Dimensions, Title, Date Created, Date Accessed, Attributes, Status, Owner, Author, Subject, Category, Pages, Comments, Copyright, Artist, Album Title, Year, Track Number, Genre, Duration, Bit Rate, Protected, Camera Model, Date Picture Taken, Episode Name, Program Description, Audio sample size, Audio sample rate, Channels, Company, Description, File Version, Product Name, Product Version, Profile, Width, Height, Duration, Bit Rate, Frame Rate, Sample Rate, Keywords.

There will be more in part 3.

This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

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