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File Explorer in Windows 11 – Instructions

/ / Latest, Microsoft, Windows 11
A picture of a window in File Explorer in Windows 11.

Overview of File Explorer in Windows 11:

            File Explorer in Windows 11 is redesigned. Releases of Windows before Windows 8 called File Explorer “Windows Explorer,” instead. However, Windows Explorer and File Explorer are basically the same program, with a few differences between features and names in the different Windows operating systems.

            File Explorer in Windows 11 is a window that lets you explore and manage the files and folders in your computer and OneDrive account. After opening a library folder in Windows 11, for example, its contents appear in a File Explorer window.

            To open File Explorer in Windows 11, click the “File Explorer” app icon in the Windows taskbar. Alternatively, click the “Start” button in the Windows taskbar to open the Start menu. Then click the “File Explorer” app icon in the “Pinned” section of the Start menu if it appears there. If it doesn’t appear there, then click the “All apps” button in the upper-right corner of the “Pinned” section, scroll down to the “F” apps in the alphabetical listing of all the apps, and then click the “File Explorer” app icon.

            File Explorer in Windows 11 contains buttons within a toolbar, called the Ribbon, at the top of the window. These buttons let you perform many tasks and activities on the files and folders you select in the main File Explorer window. Let’s examine the different features and functions found in a typical File Explorer window in Windows 11.

            The Navigation pane in File Explorer in Windows 11 lets you select folders and drives, and also navigate to the computers, folders, and files on your network. To expand and collapse the sections and folders in the Navigation pane, click the arrows to the left of their names. Common sections shown in the Navigation pane include Quick access, OneDrive, This PC, and Network.

A picture of a window in File Explorer in Windows 11.

A picture of a window in File Explorer in Windows 11.

            To navigate the different windows you browse in File Explorer in Windows 11, click the Back, Forward, and Up buttons. To return to the last folder viewed, click the Back button. To move forward again after pressing the Back button, click the Forward button. To move up a level within the folder hierarchy shown within the File Explorer window, click the Up button.

            The buttons in the Ribbon, which is the toolbar at the top of the File Explorer window, contain common file and folder management commands. When you select an item in the Files and Folders listing within File Explorer, the available buttons in the Ribbon you can use on the selected item become activated.

            The Address Bar shows the currently selected folder location in your computer or network. You can also click into the Address Bar, type a folder location, and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard to show that folder in File Explorer, if desired. The Files and Folders listing shows the contents of the Address Bar folder location currently selected.

            If viewing the “Details” view of a folder location in the Address Bar, then the details of its files and folders appear in columns in the main File Explorer window. At the top of each column is a column name that show the type of information that appears in that column.

            To search for a specific file or folder in a selected folder location in File Explorer, click into the Search field and type the name of the file or folder or the first few letters in the name of the file or folder to then search within the currently selected folder location for the text that you enter. Searching begins immediately as you begin typing into the Search Box.

Instructions on How to Use File Explorer in Windows 11:

  1. To open File Explorer in Windows 11, click the “File Explorer” app icon in the Windows taskbar.
  2. Alternatively, click the “Start” button in the Windows taskbar to open the Start menu.
  3. Then click the “File Explorer” app icon in the “Pinned” section of the Start menu if it appears there.
  4. If it doesn’t appear there, then click the “All apps” button in the upper-right corner of the “Pinned” section, scroll down to the “F” apps in the alphabetical listing of all the apps, and then click the “File Explorer” app icon.
  5. File Explorer in Windows 11 contains buttons within a toolbar, which is called the Ribbon, at the top of the window. These buttons let you perform many tasks and activities on the files and folders you select in the main File Explorer window.
  6. The Navigation pane in the File Explorer window is used to select folders and drives, and also navigate to the computers, folders, and files on your network.
  7. To expand and collapse the sections and folders shown in the Navigation pane, click the arrows to the left of their names.
  8. To navigate the different windows you browse in File Explorer, click the Back, Forward, and Up buttons.
  9. If you want to return to the last folder viewed, click the Back button.
  10. To move forward again after pressing the Back button, click the Forward button.
  11. To move up a level within the in hierarchy shown in the File Explorer window, click the Up button.
  12. The buttons in the Ribbon, which is the toolbar at the top of the File Explorer window, contain common file and folder management commands. When you select an item in the Files and Folders listing within File Explorer, the available buttons in the Ribbon you can use on the selected item become activated.
  13. The Address Bar shows the currently selected folder location in your computer or network.
  14. To show a folder in File Explorer by typing, click into the Address Bar, type a folder location, and then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard.
  15. The Files and Folders listing shows the contents of the Address Bar folder location that is currently selected.
  16. If viewing the “Details” view of a folder location in the Address Bar, then the details of its files and folders appear in columns in the main File Explorer window. At the top of each column is a column name that show the type of information that appears in that column.
  17. To search for a specific file or folder in a selected folder location in File Explorer, click into the Search field and type the name of the file or folder or the first few letters in the name of the file or folder to then search within the currently selected folder location for the text that you enter. Searching begins immediately as you begin typing into the Search Box.

Video Lesson on File Explorer in Windows 11:

            The following video lesson, titled “File Explorer in Windows 11,” shows how to use the File Explorer in Windows 11. This video lesson is from our complete Windows tutorial, titled “Mastering Windows Made Easy v.11.”

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