How to use Windows Explorer
provided by Ask Ministries,
Note: This page is not talking about Microsoft "Internet Explorer". We are talking about the Windows operating system "Explorer" which is part of all Windows operating systems. It comes with Windows. We are providing this information because Windows Explorer is such a fabulous set of tools and a surprising number of people do not know about it and all of the very helpful things it can do. Enjoy!

What does Windows Explorer do?
How do I start Windows Explorer?
How can I look at and explore all of the files, pictures and stuff in my computer?
What different views can I use?
How do I display file details?
How to copy anything (like pictures, videos or documents) from a DVD or CD (as long has the creator of the CD/DVD has not locked it) and paste it into a folder on your computer?
How do I automatically rename entire lists of files (like folders full of pictures)?

a) What does Windows Explorer do?
Windows Explorer is part of all Windows operating systems (Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, XP and Vista) and is an easy way to manipulate files and view the contents of your computer.
Using Windows Explorer you can examine files, create folders and organize files within folders, and copy and move files between different locations. These abilities will enable you to perform the basic housekeeping tasks needed to organize your work on a PC running any Windows Operating system (Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP, or Vista).
Folders can sometimes also be called directories. The words folder and directory can be used interchangeably to refer to the same thing - a collection of files. In this guide, we shall always use the word folder. Remember a file can be one Word document, a video, a single picture, and other things so a big pile of pictures is simply a big pile of files and so on.

b) How do I start Windows Explorer?
Click with the right hand mouse button on the My Computer icon on the Desktop. Select Explore.
Or you can access Explorer from the Start button like this. In the bottom left corner of your screen RIGHT CLICK on the Start button, then LEFT CLICK ON Explorer.
A new window will open. It is similar to the folder windows, but contains a 'tree structure' in the left panel. The tree structure is simply a listing of all of the files and folders on your computer. This includes all devices that are attached to your computer. The tree structure is a way of more easily moving between folders and files. DANGER: DO NOT MOVE OR DELETE ANYTHING IN THE "SYSTEMS" OR "PROGRAMS" FOLDERS. YOU CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR COMPUTER.

Below the window's Title Bar is the Menu Bar containing the words File, Edit, View, Favourites, Tools, and Help. These can be used to access features of the Windows Explorer and manipulate the files shown in the window through menus in the same way as in other windows and applications.
Below the Menu Bar is the Toolbar.
In the left-hand section (left pane) of the Explorer window you can see a tree structure representing the hierarchy of drives and folders on the PC, while in the right hand section you can see the contents (files and folders) of the current folder.
Below you can see a picture of the various toolbars available.

c) How can I explore the computer's contents?
You can now find your way around the different folders of your computer using the Windows Explorer window.
How do I change the current folder?
In the left hand section of the Explorer window, the hierarchy of drives and folders on the PC is shown. Each folder and drive has its own icon, with the Current Folder shown as an opened folder and with its name highlighted:

You can make any folder the current folder by clicking once on it.
Try clicking on various folders in the C: drive. Notice how the contents of the Current Folder are displayed in the right of the window and that the window on the left hand side of the toolbar displays the name of the Current Folder.
In Windows XP you can explore the content from either the tree structure or from the right pane.
How do I explore the tree structure?
A + sign beside a folder indicates that the tree can be expanded by clicking on the folder to reveal more folders within it.
A - sign indicates that the folder has been expanded. Clicking on it will close the folder so that it no longer displays the subfolders within it.
How do I use the Right Pane?
To explore items in the right pane you have to double click the items:
If you double click a folder this will show its content. If you double click a file this will automatically launch the application able to handle that type of file and open the specified document.
Alternatively you can right click the item and select either Open, Explore or Edit from the context menu.

d) What different views can I use?
The View menu provides facilities for altering how files and folders are shown in the Windows Explorer display. Files may be displayed as large icons (tiles), as small icons, in a short list and in a list which displays their details. A new feature of Windows XP is the thumbnail view: this option automatically creates a preview of media objects such as images and videos making it easier to find pictures. To display files as small icons. Select the View menu by clicking once on the word View in the menu bar. Select the Icons entry from the View menu. The files on the C: drive are displayed in different ways, depending on the view mode selected. Different views can be useful for particular tasks or you may find that you simply prefer one mode over another.

Experiment with the different display options for the contents of the current folder, using both the View menu and the buttons on the toolbar.

e) How do I display file details?
In the Details view, many file details are displayed. Every file has attached to it a record of how big it is, when it was created, when it was last modified or used and what type of file it is. This can be a very useful if you are looking for a particular type of file, or wish to know how much room each file takes up on a disk.
How can I sort files?
The View menu also provides facilities for altering the order in which files and folders are displayed in the Explorer window. Files can be displayed in alphabetical order of name, by type of file, size or in order of the date in which the files were modified.
The default is to show the files in alphabetical order.
Select the View menu by clicking once on the word View in the menu bar.
Select the Arrange Icons option in the View menu.
Select by Type.
Again, there is a change in the way that the files on the C: drive are displayed. Files are now grouped according to the application they are associated with.
Experiment with the options in the Arrange Icons menu.
Finally return to displaying the files by Type.
How do I change the way files are shown in other windows?
All the techniques detailed above for altering the way files can be displayed within a window can be used for any folder windows in the Windows XP system, not just when you are examining files using Windows Explorer.
All folder windows have a View menu, with the same commands as we have been using in Windows Explorer.
You can also see a tool bar for any window by selecting Toolbar from the View menu, which has the same buttons as the ones we have been using in Windows Explorer.

g) How to copy anything from a DVD or CD (as long has the creator of the CD/DVD has not blocked your access) and paste it into a folder on your computer?

First, use Window's Explorer (described above) to find the CD/DVD drive on your computer.
1. Click on the drive to view everything that is on the CD or DVD. Many CD's and DVD's are created as "Data" so that the end user CAN get access and copy what is on it. The Apple Sauce Kids Sound Effects CD is created as "Data" so anyone can copy the sound effects off and use them on other computers, cell phones or what ever.
2. Simply find the file that you want, highlight the file and press CONTROL "C" (which is a copy command) or you can click on the file once and the click on "EDIT" and COPY"
3. Go to the folder that you want to move the file to and press CONTROL "V" (which is a paste command) or you can click on the file once and the click on "EDIT" and PASTE". The files will operate exactly the same way as they have been in their new location and you can move the files as often as you wish.

f) How do I automatically rename entire lists of files?
(Like maybe when a long list of pictures from Aunt Martha's birthday on 7-7-07 are mixed with my vacation pictures)

Anyone who has had a digital camera more then a month has run into the pile of pictures from several different events that are all mixed together. First you have to sort the pile into a single file folder for each event.

First, sorting the mixed up pile:
1. LEFT CLICKING, one time, the file folder that you want the new folders to be in.
2. Create a new file folder for each of the groups (events) of pictures to be in by:
A. At the top of the screen, LEFT CLICK on FILE, one time.
B. LEFT CLICK, one time, on NEW, and on FOLDER.
C. when each folder is created you can type in any name you wish (with in reason) for that folder. Repeat steps A., B. and C. as many time as are necessary until you get enough folders.
D. If you mess the name up (No problem), RIGHT CLICK on the Folder, a menu will appear and LEFT CLICK on RENAME, simply type it again.
3.Go to the pile of pictures. Near the top of the screen, locate the VIEWS icon and LEFT CLICK on it. In the menu is FILMSTRIP (which will display the pictures in the pile as large pictures) and THUMBNAILS (will display the pictures in the pile as small pictures), LEFT CLICK on the one you like.
4.One by one LEFT CLICK and hold the LEFT mouse button down and slide the picture to it's new folder. I know this will be a long process but once you get caught up all you have to do is create a new folder for each new batch of pictures as you go along and download the pictures where they need to be..
Rename all of the pictures in each folder:
1. Go to the file folder that has the pictures that you want to rename. LEFT CLICKING, one time, on the file folder that has the pictures that you want to rename.
2. At the top of the screen LEFT CLICK on EDIT and then SELECT ALL. All of the pictures in the folder are High Lighted. RIGHT CLICK on the very top High Lighted picture. A menu will appear and CLICK on RENAME.
3.For the sake of this discussion lets say the file name is 12345678.jpg. In this case the .jpg tells me that this is a picture. The . and the 3-4 letters to the right of the . tell the computer exactly what it is working with and the special requirements that that file requires. DANGER: If you delete the . and any part of what is to the right you are in danger of destroying that file. In one smooth motion, LEFT CLICK and hold just to the left of the period in .jpg and sweep to the left. It is important that you only change the part of the File name where the numbers are in this example. If you change the entire file name including the .jpg you will get an error message and you may destroy the picture/file. You can not use many of the special character in the file name. You can not use ? . < > * & % $ # @ ! / ' " and so on. You can use - ( )

Once you type the new name in for the first item (picture, or whatever) LEFT CLICK your mouse anywhere outside of the High Lighted area and all of the pictures will automatically get the same name with a (number) added to the end of the name like: Aunt Marthas birthday 7-7-07 (1).jpg, Aunt Marthas birthday 7-7-07 (2).jpg and so on. The name has a limited length depending on the version of Windows you are using. The newer the version the longer the name can be, example Windows XP will take file names of about 132 total characters but long file names "Can" create problems of their own. The general rule is to make the name as descriptive as it needs to be and no longer. Don't tell Aunt Martha's life story in the file name. If you really want to add information to the picture, you can use some picture editing software packages that allow you to add picture information, sometimes called meta tags. Some picture formats will let you add information and some will not.