File Explorer (10) Guide

A guide for users of the Jaws screen reader, written by David Bailes. More guides are available on the Jaws Guides page of the VIP Software Guides website.

Contents

Introduction

This is a guide to File Explorer on Windows 10. In Windows 7, and versions of Windows before that, the equivalent program was called Windows Explorer.

File Explorer's uses include browsing or searching the contents of disks, folders and libraries, opening files, deleting files and folders, renaming them, copying and moving them around, and creating new folders. One way of opening File Explorer is to press Windows Key + E, and other ways are described later in the guide.

Using the ribbon

File Explorer uses a ribbon, rather than a traditional menu bar and toolbars. If you're not familiar with using ribbons, then it's recommended that you read the Ribbon section of this guide, where the ribbon, and the keystrokes to use it are described in detail.

Note that unlike in most programs, the ribbon is minimized by default. You'll probably want to turn off this minimization, and instructions for doing so are given in the Turn off the minimization of the ribbon section of the Customizing File Explorer section.

Main Window

By default, the main window contains the following components:

Moving around the window

Opening File Explorer

There are a number of ways of opening File Explorer, including:

After Windows 10 has been installed, then by default, File Explorer opens at Quick access. However, you can change this default location to This PC, as described in the Initial location after opening File Explorer section.

Hierarchy of locations

The folders and drives on your computer, together with any networked computers and their shared folders, drives and printers, form a tree like hierarchy. This is because nearly all of these different types of location, as well as containing files, can also contain other locations which can in turn contain other locations, etc. For example, disks can contain folders, folders can contain other folders, and some special folders contain disks or networked computers.

The top level location is the Desktop folder, and this contains the following locations: OneDrive, your personal folder, This PC, Libraries, each removable drive, Network, Control Panel, and Recycle bin.

Changing the current location

File Explorer provides several ways of changing the current location, whose contents are shown in the Items view. The following list is a brief overview; more details are given in the relevant section of the guide:

Reading the current location

You can check the current location by pressing Insert + T to read the title bar.

If you want to know the current location, and its position in the hierarchy of locations, this can be found in the address bar in its split button mode. Tab until you get to the desktop split button, which is always the first of the split buttons. Then use Right Arrow or Left Arrow to read the split buttons.

Hidden files and folders

By default, Windows hides critical files and folders, so that you don't accidentally delete them. An example of a hidden folder is the AppData folder, which is a subfolder of your personal folder, and contains various personal settings and data for Windows and for the programs which you use.

If you do want hidden files and folders to appear in the Items view and the Tree view, then on the View tab, in the Show/Hide group, there's a Hidden items check box, which is unchecked by default. Note that even if the hidden files and folders are hidden in the Items view and Tree view, you can still navigate to a hidden folder using the address bar in its edit combo box mode.

Items view

The Items view is a list of the contents of the current location which is shown in the address bar, and the list can contain folders, libraries, disks and files. Jaws calls this list the “Items view multi-select list box”, but it's referred to just as the Items view in this guide, and as the Files list in Microsoft's help.

By default, the items are sorted by name, in ascending order. For locations in which there are both folders and files, the folders are listed first, sorted by name, followed by the files, again sorted by name.

Immediately after opening File Explorer, the focus is the first item in the Items view, and it's unselected. This is also the case after changing the current location using the Tree view or the Address bar, and if necessary moving to the Items view. If you need to select the first item, then you can press Spacebar or Ctrl + Spacebar. If the current item is selected, you can deselect it by pressing Ctrl + Spacebar.

In the Items view, you can browse, navigate to different locations, and select items so that you can perform the tasks which are described in the Tasks section later in the guide. The later sub-sections of the Items view section which describe Sorting, Filtering, and Grouping, can safely be skipped when first reading this guide.

The type of an item

The display of each item in the Items view includes an icon, which is a small graphic. Folders, libraries and disks each have their own distinctive icon, and each file has an icon which indicates the program which opens it. This allows sighted users to quickly see whether an item is a folder or a library or a word document or whatever.

For users of screen readers, almost the same information is available from the item name's extension or lack of it. The names of nearly all files include an extension, which is a period followed by a number of characters, and this indicates the type of the file. For example, a plain text file has the extension .txt, and a Microsoft Word file has the extension .doc. In contrast, the names of folders, libraries or drives don't have extensions. By default, the file extensions are hidden, but on the View tab, in the Show/Hide group, you can check the File name extensions check box so that the extensions are shown.

Views

Each location has a view setting, and this determines the layout of the items on the screen and the sort of information which is displayed for each item.

With the List and Contents views, which are laid out as columns, and the Details view which is a table, the keystrokes to select the next and previous item are Down Arrow and Up Arrow respectively. However, in the case of the various Icon views and the Tiles view which are laid out as rows, the keystrokes to select the next and previous item are Right Arrow and Left Arrow respectively. Because of this variation of keystrokes for the next and previous items, it greatly simplifies keyboard navigation if the views of all the locations that you go to in File Explorer are set to either List, Details or Content.

Changing the view setting

You can change the view setting of a location using either the ribbon, or keyboard shortcuts, or the item view's context menu, or the view modes radio buttons, and each of these is described below.

Changing the view setting using the ribbon:

  1. On the View tab, in the Layout group, press the views button. Note that Jaws reads the name of the current view before reading the name of the button. You're moved to a view list box, where the current view is the initial focus.
  2. In the view list box, the possible views are displayed as a number of rows. You can use the arrow keys to move around these views, but it's easier to use Tab, which cycles round all the options. Move to the view that you want, and press Enter.

Changing the view setting using shortcut keystrokes. For some very strange reason, these depend on the setting of Window's display language. If it is set to English (United Kingdom) they are of the form Ctrl + Alt + number (1-8). However, if the display language is set to English (United States), they are of the form Ctrl + Shift + number (1-8). In both cases the numbers for the options are:

  1. Extra large icons
  2. Large icons
  3. Medium icons
  4. Small icons
  5. List
  6. Details
  7. Tiles
  8. Content

Changing the view setting using the Item view's context menu:

  1. In the Items view, with no items selected, open the context menu. (If you need to deselect the current item, press Ctrl + Spacebar.)
  2. Open the View sub menu, and choose a view. Note that in this sub menu the current view is checked.

Changing to the Details view, using the view modes radio buttons:

  1. Tab to the View modes details radio button.
  2. Press Spacebar to check the radio button.

Default view settings

Fortunately, the default view setting of many common locations is Details. This is the case for the Documents, Music, and Downloads folders. However, the following is a list of some common locations whose view you'll probably want to change. There are a number of ways of settings these locations to be the current location, but these are all examples of locations which you can move to by typing their name into the address bar in its edit combo box mode, as described in the Edit combo box address bar section. That is, press Alt + D to move to the Address bar, type in the name of the location, and then press Enter.

This may well be all you need to know about customizing views, but more information is available in the View options of the Items view section of the Customizing section.

Details view

The details view, which was introduced in the previous section, is the default view for many locations. This view displays the item's name together with additional information such as the item's size. The information is laid out as a table in which each row describes an item. The first column is the item's name, and the subsequent columns are the item's other properties such as Date Modified and Size. These properties are often referred to as details, hence the name of the view.

There are various ways of reading an item's details:

Changing the details

For each location there's a set of default details which are considered to be appropriate for that location. You can change both which details are displayed, and their order by using the Choose Details dialog box. To open this dialog box:

  1. On the View tab, in the Current view group, press the Add columns menu button.
  2. On the menu, choose Choose columns, which is the last item.

The Choose details dialog includes:

Column headings

The column headings of the table are displayed using a group of split buttons. Although they appear along the top of the table, the group of split buttons comes after the Items view as you Tab round the controls in the window. The first split button is nearly always the name split button, and once you've tabbed to this you can then use Right Arrow and Left Arrow to move between the split buttons.

The standard button part of each split button, which contains its name, can be used for sorting the item by that property, but it's normally easier to use the Sort By menu on the View tab, as described in the Sorting section. The menu button part of each split button, can be used for filtering, and this is described in the Filtering section.

Selecting items

For the tasks described in the Tasks section, such as copying and deleting items, you often need to able to select one or more items in the Items view. The following sections describe how to do this.

If you need to check which items are selected, then if you press Shift + Insert + Down Arrow Jaws reads the selected items. Also, if one or more items are selected, then the number of items appears in the Status bar, which you can read by pressing Insert + Page Down.

Selecting a single item

You can select a single item using the keystrokes: Up Arrow, Down Arrow, Home, End, and the first character or characters of an item.

Selecting all the items

Press Ctrl + A.

Selecting items which are next to each other:

  1. Select the first item.
  2. Start holding down the Shift key.
  3. Extend the selection using Up Arrow, or Down Arrow, or Home, or End.
  4. Let go of the shift key.

To select items which are not next to each other:

  1. Select the first item.
  2. Start holding down the Ctrl key.
  3. Move up or down the list using Up Arrow, or Down Arrow, or Home or End. To change an item from unselected to selected, of from selected to unselected, press Spacebar.
  4. Let go of the Ctrl key.

Inverting the selection

On the Home tab, in the Select group, press the Invert selection button: all the items which were selected are deselected, and all the items which were not selected become selected.

Changing the current location

In the Items view, you can move either down or up the location hierarchy:

Sorting

By default, for all locations, the Items view is sorted by name in ascending order. For locations in which there are both folders and files, the folders are listed first, sorted by name, followed by the files, again sorted by name. You can change how the items are sorted for a location by using the Sort by menu, and you can open this by going to the View tab, and pressing the Sort by menu button, which is in the Current view group. The menu contains two groups of options. The first is the property by which the items can be sorted, and the second consists of the options Ascending and Descending. One option in each group is checked. To change the sorting, choose an unchecked option in one of the groups. If you change the property, then the setting of the ascending/descending options if automatically changed to the most likely setting for that property.

For example, if you wanted find the largest files in your Downloads folder, then you could choose Size on the Sort by menu. When you do this the setting of the ascending/descending options is automatically changed to descending, so that the largest file is at the top of the list of files. To restore the sorting to its normal setting, choose Name on the Sort by menu, and the setting of the ascending/descending options is automatically changed to ascending.

Note that whatever the view of a location, the properties by which the items can be sorted include the details present in the Details view.

Filtering

If the view of a location is set to the Details view, then you can filter the contents of the Items view using the split buttons which represent the column headings of the table.

  1. Tab to the first split button of the column headings, which is almost always a name split button.
  2. Using Right Arrow or Left Arrow, move to the property by which you want to filter.
  3. Press Down Arrow to press the menu button part of the split button.
  4. The menu contains a number of options, and any number of these can be checked. You can use the following keystrokes:
    • Spacebar checks or unchecks the selected option.
    • Enter sets the selected option to checked, and closes the menu. Note that if the option is already checked, it remains checked.
    • Esc closes the menu, and cancels any changes you've made.
    • Alt closes the menu.

After you've applied a filter, the current location is a temporary location which is below the original location in the hierarchy. For example, if your Documents folder is filtered by the Type property of PDF file, then the split buttons in the address bar are something like: Desktop, This PC, Documents, PDF file. Because of this, you don't have to unset the filter to return to the original contents: you can just press either Alt + Up Arrow, or Alt + Left Arrow since it was the previous location. If you're filtered the contents using more than one property, then you just have to press these keys the appropriate number of times.

Grouping

By default, only a small number of locations have the items in the Items view grouped by some property. One common example is the This PC folder, where the items are grouped by type, and typically there are two groups: Folders, and Devices and drives.

If the Items view is grouped by some property, then it contains a number of groups headings. If a group heading is expanded, which it is by default, then the items in that group appear below the heading. If it's collapsed, then the items in the groups are not shown. For both expanded and collapsed group headings, if a heading is the focus, then all the items in the group are selected.

You can control the grouping of items for a location by using the Group By menu,and you can open this by going to the View tab, and pressing the Group by menu button, which is in the Current view group. The menu contains two groups of options. The first is the property by which the items can be grouped, and the second consists of the options Ascending and Descending. If one of the properties is checked, then this group also contains the option (none) so that grouping can be turned off. To group the items by a property, choose one of the properties from this menu. When you do this, the setting of the ascending/descending options is automatically changed to the most likely setting for that property, and the options on the Sort by menu are set to the same settings as the Group by menu, which is normally what you want. This does however mean that if you turn the grouping off, you'll also probably want to change the sorting as well.

When Jaws reads a group heading, which it refers to as a row header, it reads the name of the group, whether it's expanded or collapsed, and the number of items in the group in parenthesis.

To expand or collapse group headings:

Unfortunately there aren't any shortcuts to move to the next or previous group heading. However, you can collapse all the group headings as described above, read through the headings, and then expand the headings which you're interested in.

Address bar

The Address bar both shows the current location, and enables you to change it. It has two different modes: it's either a series of split buttons, or an edit combo box, and these will be described in detail in the following two sections below. When you move to the Address bar, its initial mode depends on the keystroke used to move to it:

Once you're in the address bar, then you can easily switch between the two modes:

Split button address bar

When the Address bar is in split button mode, it consists of one or more split buttons, and you can move between these using Left Arrow and Right Arrow. These split buttons show the current location, together with its place in the location hierarchy. For example, if the current location is your Documents folder, then the split buttons are: Desktop, This PC, and Documents. You can read this as Desktop contains This PC, which contains Documents. The initial focus is the first split button, and because the Desktop folder is the top location in the hierarchy, this is always the Desktop split button.

Note that if the current location doesn't contain any locations, then the last button is an ordinary button rather than a split button. Also, if there isn't enough space in the address bar for all the split buttons, then one or more of the split buttons between the Desktop split button and the current location split button are omitted.

Changing the current location

To change the current location using the split buttons:

Edit combo box address bar

The edit combo box shows the current location, and its position in a location hierarchy using backslashes to separate its parts. You can move to a new location by typing the appropriate text, as described in the next section.

Note that the location hierarchy shown in edit combo box mode is different from the one shown in the split buttons mode, and which is described in the Hierarchy of locations section above. For standard file folders it reflects the arrangement of the folders on your disk drives. For example, for the Downloads folder which is in your personal folder, the address will be something like C:\Users\Username\Downloads.

Changing the current location

You can change the current location by typing in the appropriate text, as described below, and then pressing Enter. The focus then normally moves to the Items view.

You can move to a number of folders simply by typing in the name of the folder. These include:

To move to a particular drive you can type in its drive letter, followed by colon. For example, if you know that the drive letter of your USB memory stick is E, then you can just type in E:.

If the location you type in doesn't match an actual location, then either an Address bar message box opens which tells you to check the spelling, or it's assumed to be a web address, and your default web browser opens.

Additional notes

Tree view

The Tree view contains both a tree view of the hierarchy of locations and Quick access. Note that this Tree view is called the Navigation pane in Microsoft's documentation, and in various places in the user interface. However, since Jaws reads the control as “tree view tree view”, this guide refers to it simply as the Tree view.

By default, some locations are omitted from the hierarchy of locations shown in the Tree view, and the tree view contains the following items:

By default the top level Desktop folder, your personal folder, the Libraries folder, Control panel, and the Recycle bin are omitted from the tree view. If you want these folders to be shown, there are options both to show all the folders, and to show the Libraries, and setting these is described in the Tree view options section of the Customizing section.

Changing the current location

To change the current location using this tree view, select a location, and then press Enter. Note that the focus remains in the Tree view, so you then have to press Tab if you want to move to the Items view.

Selecting a location

With Quick access and This PC items expanded, which they are by default, it's very easy to select common locations such as your Downloads folder or a USB memory stick using the first character or characters of the item. Note that if you signed in with a Microsoft account, then both the OneDrive folder and the This PC folder contain a Documents folder. So if you press the letter D until you get to Documents, you may be unsure which Documents folder you've selected. To get round this, first select the folder containing the Documents folder you want, for example This PC, and then select the Documents folder. Similarly both the OneDrive folder and the This PC folder contain a Pictures folder.

This is a brief summary of all the standard keystrokes for selecting a location:

A more detailed description of the tree view control is given in the separate Controls Guide. Note that one of the examples given in that guide is the folder hierarchy in Windows XP, and not Windows 8.

Initial focus

When you move to the Tree view, the initial focus is the location which is selected. When you're not in the Tree view and change the current location, then which location is selected in the Tree view is automatically updated to reflect this. However, exactly which location ends up being selected depends on the setting of the expand to current folder option. When the current location is changed, then:

Instructions for setting this option are given in the Tree view options section of the Customizing section.

Note that you can also manually select the current location in the Tree view by pressing Ctrl + Shift + E, which if necessary expands the tree view so that the current location is shown, and then selects this location.

Quick access

The Quick access item at the top of the Tree view contains pinned and frequently used locations, and recently used files. By default, the locations which are pinned are Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. You can also add to and remove these pinned locations, as described in the following sections. Adding a pinned location can be particularly useful for quickly moving to locations which are deep down in the location hierarchy.

In the Tree view, the locations contained by the Quick access item are ordered so that the pinned locations are listed before the frequently used locations. In addition, for screen readers, the word pinned is appended in parenthesis to the name of the pinned locations.

If the Quick access item is set as the current location, then the Items view contains contains two groups: frequent folders, which in fact contains both pinned and frequently used locations; and recently used files.

If you don't want frequently used locations or recently used files to be included in Quick access, then there are options to do this, as described in the Quick access options section, which is in the Customizing File Explorer section.

The following sections describe how to add to and manage the pinned locations.

Pinning a location

To add a location to the pinned locations in Quick access, select the location in either the Tree view or the Items view, and choose Pin to Quick access on its context menu.

Removing a pinned location

In the tree view, select a pinned location contained by the Quick access item, open its context menu, and choose Unpin from Quick access.

Sorting the locations by name

To sort the locations by name, select the Quick access item, and choose Sort by name from its context menu.

Tasks

This section describes a number of common tasks which involve folders and files, and in the text that follows, an item can be either a folder or a file. Normally, you'll select items in the Items view, which was described in the Selecting items section above. However, if you only need to select a single folder, then you can also do this in the Tree view.

The tasks included in this section are opening files, creating new folders, deleting, renaming, copying, and moving items, and finding out the sizes of files, folders, libraries, and disks.

Opening files

To open a file, select it and then press Enter. The file will be opened by the default program for the type of that file, which is indicated by its extension.

You can open a number of files at the same time, as long as they share the same default program. One useful example is that you can select a number of music files, and then press Enter. All the files are then played by your default music player.

Deleting items

When you delete items, they're moved to the Recycle bin, which gives you a chance to retrieve them if in future you realize that you need them. Exceptions to this are that if you delete items from devices with removable storage like CDs or USB flash drives, or from the Recycle bin, they are permanently deleted.

To delete one or more items:

  1. Select one or more items.
  2. Press Delete.
  3. If the item or items are going to be moved to the recycle bin, and you've enabled the confirmation of this, as described below, then a Delete File or Folder or Multiple Items dialog opens, asking whether you're sure. Press Enter to press the Yes button. If the items are going to be permanently deleted, then a Delete dialog always opens, asking whether you're sure.

Delete confirmation dialog

By default, if you delete an item or items, and they're going to be moved to the Recycle bin, then the items are silently deleted – there's no confirmation dialog.

If you want a confirmation dialog:

  1. If the current location is This PC, move to another location, for example, Documents. If This PC is the current location, then the Home tab is not present on the ribbon, and you'll be using one of the controls on that tab.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Organize group, press the menu button part of the Delete split button by pressing Spacebar or Enter.
  3. On the menu, if the Show recycle confirmation option is not checked, press Enter, otherwise press Esc to close the menu.

Note that this option can also be set in the properties dialog of the recycle bin, which can be opened from the recycle bin's context menu.

Recycle bin

One way of moving to the Recycle bin is to press Alt + D to move to the Address bar, type recycle bin, and then press Enter. Alternatively, you can easily move there using either the Tree view or the Items view.

If the view has been set to the Details view, then by default the second column heading of the Items view of the Recycle bin is the original location of the deleted item. You can restore one or more items to their original locations by selecting them and then choosing Restore from their context menu. Alternatively, you can either copy and paste or cut and paste them to wherever you want.

Renaming an item

To rename an item:

  1. Select an item.
  2. Either go to the Home tab, and in the Organise group, press the Rename button, or open the item's context menu and choose Rename, or press the shortcut F2.
  3. The item's name appears temporarily in an edit box. If the item is a folder or library, then the whole name is selected, so you can just type in a new name to replace the old name. If the item is a file, then all of the name except for the extension, for example .doc or .pdf, is selected. So if you type in a new name, you shouldn't include the extension, because the original extension is not overwritten.
  4. Press Enter. Alternatively press Esc to cancel the rename.

Creating a new folder

When you create a new folder, it's created in the current location.

  1. On the Home tab, in the New group, press the New folder button (Ctrl + Shift + N).
  2. Type a name for the folder, and press Enter.

Copying items using Copy and Paste

  1. Select the items you want to copy.
  2. Either go to the Home tab, and in the Clipboard group press the Copy button, or open the context menu and choose Copy, or press the shortcut keystroke Ctrl + C.
  3. To specify the destination location before pasting the items, you can do one of the following:
    • Change the current location to the required destination location by any of the available methods. After doing this, the first item in the Items view is the focus, and it's unselected. As long as no items in the Items view are selected, then the destination location is the current location.
    • Select a location in the Items view, optionally having changed the current location. With a location selected in the Items view, the destination location is this selected location, rather than the current location.
    • In the Tree view, select a location. Note that this doesn't involve changing the current location.
  4. To paste the items, either go to the Home tab, and in the Clipboard group press the Paste button, or open the context menu and choose Paste, or press the shortcut keystroke Ctrl + V.

Examples

For example, if there are two folders in your Documents folder, and you wanted to copy a file from one folder to the other folder, you could:

  1. Select the file in the first folder.
  2. Press Ctrl + C.
  3. To change the current location to the second folder: press Alt + Up Arrow to move up to the Documents folder, select the second folder, and press Enter to move down to this folder.
  4. Press Ctrl + V.

As a second example, which illustrates the various ways of specifying the destination folder, say that you wanted to copy a file from your Documents folder to a folder on a USB memory stick. After selecting the file and pressing Ctrl + C you could do any of the following:

Moving items using Cut and Paste

This involves exactly the same steps as Copy and Paste, which was described in the last section, but in the second step, rather than copy, either go to the Home tab, and in the Clipboard group press the Cut button, or open the context menu and choose Cut, or press the shortcut Ctrl + X.

For example, if you wanted to move a file in your Documents folder to a Folder in your Documents folder:

  1. If necessary, go to your Documents folder.
  2. In the Items view, select the file.
  3. Press Ctrl + X to Cut.
  4. Select the Folder.
  5. Press Ctrl + V to paste.

Copy items using Send To

The Sent To sub menu provides a convenient way of copying one or more items to a number of locations and programs.

  1. Select the items you want to copy.
  2. Open the context menu, then open the Send To sub-menu, and choose a destination.

By default, the Send To sub menu contains the following destinations:

Note that if you open the context menu with Shift + Application Key or Shift + F10, the Send To sub menu also contains the folders in your personal folder, for example Music, and Videos.

Customizing the Send To sub menu

You can add locations to the Send To sub menu, by creating shortcuts to them in a SendTo folder, which is buried deep in the folder hierarchy beneath your personal folder. This is one way of creating a shortcut to a location in your SendTo folder:

  1. Select the location in either the Items view or the Tree view, and press Ctrl + C to copy.
  2. To change the current location to the SendTo folder, press Alt + D to move to the address bar in edit combo box mode, type sendto (one word), and press Enter.
  3. To create a shortcut to the desired location, go the Home tab, and in the Clipboard group press the Paste shortcut button. Note that the name of the shortcut is the name of the location followed by dash shortcut, so you'll want to rename the shortcut (F2) to remove the dash shortcut.

Size of files

The size of a single file may be available as one the properties shown in a details view. In addition, the size of one or more selected files is shown in their properties dialog.

A number of locations have by default both a Details view, and the item's size as the fourth column. Examples of these locations are the Documents folder, the Downloads folder, and disks. Although, by default, the Music folder has a Details view, size is not one of the properties shown. If you need to check the size of music files frequently, you can add size to the properties shown, and then change the order of the properties so that the size is the fourth column, just like these other locations. See the Changing the details section of the Details view section for instructions.

You can also find the size of a selected file or the total size of a number of selected files in their Properties dialog:

  1. To open the Properties dialog of the selected file or files, choose Properties from their context menu (Application key, then O, or Alt + Enter).
  2. Move to the Details page, and you can quickly find size in the list view by pressing S.
  3. Alternatively, the size is also available on the General page of this dialog, and can be read using the methods given in the next section.

Size of folders

The size of a selected folder, or the total size of a number selected folders is shown in their properties dialog:

  1. To open the properties dialog of the selected folder or folders, choose Properties from its context menu (Application key, then O, or in the Items view only Alt + Enter).
  2. The dialog opens on the General page, and the initial focus is near the bottom of the page. However you can't read the size by using standard keyboard navigation. You have to either read the whole page (Insert + B), or use the Jaws cursor. For the latter option, press Insert + Numpad Minus to route the Jaws cursor to the PC cursor, and then read up the page by using Up Arrow. Note that it can take a little time for the size to reach its final total, as Windows may have to go through all the files in the folders below that folder. When you've finished reading, press Numpad Plus to go back to using the PC cursor.

Size of libraries

As in the case of folders described above, the size of a library is available in its properties dialog, and again you can't read it by using standard keyboard navigation. In this case the initial focus in the dialog box is near the top of the page, so after routing the Jaws cursor to the PC cursor, read down the page using Down Arrow.

Size of disks

The easiest way to find a disk's size and amount of free space is to set the This PC folder as the current location. If the view has be set to Details, as has already been suggested, then the third and fourth columns are the disk's total size and free space respectively.

Alternatively, the size, free space and used space are available in a disk's properties dialog. As in the case of folders and libraries described above, you can't read this information by standard keyboard navigation, but have to either read the whole page or use the Jaws cursor.

Searching

To search the current location using the search box:

  1. Press Ctrl + E to move to the Search edit box.
  2. Type in one or more search terms. If you use more than one search term, then a file must match all the search terms.
  3. As you type in the search terms, the results automatically appear in the Items view – there's no need to press Enter to make this happen. To move to the Items view, press Tab twice.

By default, when the Items view contains search results, its view is set to the Contents view. Each result consists of the item's name, together with some other information, including the folder path. This specifies the folder which contains the item, using the same disk and folder hierarchy which is used in the Address bar in edit combo box mode. When using Down Arrow or Up Arrow to select the next or previous item, then Jaws reads only the item's name. However, if you press Insert + Up Arrow to read the current item, then Jaws reads all the information. You may prefer to change the view to the Details view which makes it easier to access each item's properties, such as its folder path.

Note that when you move to the Search edit box, the Search tools search tab is displayed on the ribbon, and automatically becomes the active tab. On this tab, the Refine group contains controls for applying advanced search terms. However, it's normally easier just to type in these options, as described later in this section.

Also a drop down list of search suggestions appears below the search box, and you may, or may not find these useful. An alternative way of moving to the Items view after you've typed in your search terms is to press Enter to close the drop down list, and then press Down Arrow.

The next three sections describe the locations searched, which information is searched, and details of the word matching. The sections after these describe more advanced techniques which allow you to refine your searches.

Locations searched

The current location is searched, and by default all the the locations below this in the location hierarchy are also searched. So for example, if you search your Documents folder, then all its folders are searched, and any sub-folders of these folders etc. If the current location is a folder or a drive, then there is an option to search only the current location: on the Search tools Search tab, in the Location group, press the Current Folder button. Note that this setting is only temporary, and the default behaviour returns as soon as the Search edit box becomes empty.

Which information is matched

When you search, the information which is matched against your search terms can be either only filenames or it can also include file contents. Which is the case can depend both on whether the location is indexed, and on certain search options. By default:

The remainder of this section describes how file contents are used for searching, indexing, and the relevant search options.

Files contain both data, and some of the properties of the data. Sometimes these properties are referred to as metadata, which simply means data about data. For example, a text document contains the actual text, and properties such as the authors and title. A music file contains audio data, and also properties such as artists, album, etc. When Windows searches file contents, this always includes the properties of the data, and also includes the actual data, if it's text.

Windows maintains an Index which contains information about the files and their contents in certain locations, and this information is stored in a way that enables searches to be very fast. So when you search for files in one of these indexed locations, the index is searched rather than the location itself, and so even a search which includes file contents will be fast. By default, these are the locations which are indexed:

For most people these defaults are fine, but if you really want to, you can customize the indexed locations in the Indexing Options section of the Control Panel.

As noted above, by default, file contents are only included in the search if the location is indexed. This is so that the search is always fast. However, if you don't like this, you can change it so that file contents are always used, irrespective of whether the location is indexed. See the Search options section for details.

Word matching

You can use either complete words or the beginnings of words as search terms. So, for example, the search term cat would match both cat and catch.

Note that for the purposes of searching, the following characters separate words: space, period, -, @, _, and \. So the search term mp3 would match files with the filenames: mp3 patents.doc, patents-for-mp3.doc, and cooleddie.mp3

You can use wildcard characters in the search, which match against any character or characters:

File properties

As described above, each search term is normally matched against either filenames alone, or filenames and file contents, depending on whether the location is indexed, and the search options. However you can also search for files which have a specific property which matches a search term using the format property:search term. Note that there must not be any spaces either side of the colon. You can do this in any location, regardless of whether it's indexed, and of the search options. If the location isn't indexed, then the search just takes longer.

For example, modified:7/6/15, would match files modified on 7/6/15, and author:david would match files whose author matched david. You can use any of the properties which are listed in the Choose Details dialog box, which is opened from the View tab, as described in the Changing the details section. They don't have to be checked in the dialog, and you don't have to be using the Details view.

There are abbreviations for a number of commonly used properties, including:

If the property consists of more than one word, then all the examples given by Microsoft show that you should omit the spaces between the words when searching using this property. So for example, if you're looking for contacts whose first name is susan, then you'd type firstname:susan. However, in practice it seems to work both without and with the spaces.

If you're using more than one search term for the value of a property, then the following examples show the need to use either parenthesis or quotes. Assuming that you're searching a location where normally both filenames and file contents are searched then:

Ranges of dates and sizes

To specify ranges of dates or sizes, you can use the following operators: <, >, <=, >=, and .. . For example:

Special values for dates

You can use the following values for specifying dates:

Kinds of files

Anther way of refining a search is to specify the kind of file you're looking for. As in the case of using properties, you can do this in any location, regardless of whether it's indexed, and of your search options.

Note that if the kind of file ends in the letter s, than this can be omitted: kind:docs and kind:doc both match files which contain text.

So, for example:

OR and NOT

OneDrive

OneDrive is the name of Microsoft's online storage, and which was previously called SkyDrive. Using this, you can store up to 5GB for no charge. OneDrive is integrated into File Explorer: there's a OneDrive folder in the location hierarchy, which is at the same level as the This PC folder, as described in the Hierarchy of locations section.

If you've signed into Windows 10 with a local account, rather than a Microsoft account, then to use OneDrive, you either have to change your account to a Microsoft account, or sign into OneDrive using a Microsoft Account. To do the latter, if you open the OneDrive folder, then a dialog opens which enables you to sign in.

The main advantages of storing files online are that you can easily access them from other computers, and that you can share files which would be too big to send as an email attachment. If you want to use online storage, then there are also several alternatives to OneDrive, including Dropbox and Google Drive.

Choosing which folders and files to sync

If you have have a large amount of data stored on OneDrive, you may only want some or the folders or files in OneDrive to be available on a particular computer. To choose which folders and files are available and kept in sync on a computer:

  1. Select any file or folder in the OneDrive folder.
  2. Open its context menu, and choose “Choose OneDrive folders to sync”. A Microsoft OneDrive dialog opens.
  3. This dialog contains the following controls: A “Sync all files and folders on my OneDrive” check box, which is checked by default; A check box tree view which allows you to pick and choose which files and folders are synced.

Sharing files or folders

You can easily share a file or the contents of a folder which is in your OneDrive. Select the file or folder, open its context menu, and choose “Share a OneDrive link”. A link is placed on the clipboard, which you can then paste into a document or email.

It is very important to note that the permissions that you give to the person who you share a link with are different, depending on whether you share a file or a folder:

Other settings

To access additional settings for OneDrive:

  1. Move to the OneDrive icon in the notification area (system tray).
  2. Open the icon's context menu and choose Settings. A Microsoft OneDrive dialog opens.

Libraries

A library is a combined view of one or more folders which are included in a library. For example, if you have music files on both your computer's hard disk and an external hard disk, you can use the Music library to create a combined view of all your music files. By default there are four libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos.

These are some important properties of libraries:

Default libraries

By default there are four libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. By default, the folders which these libraries include are as follows:

The default save location of each of the libraries is the corresponding folder in your Personal folder.

Library Locations dialog

The next few sections describe tasks such as including additional folders in libraries, and changing the default save location of a library. Many of these tasks involve using the Library Locations dialog, and so this dialog is described in this section, before going on to describe these tasks in the following sections.

To open the Library Locations dialog for a library:

  1. Select the library in either the Tree view or the Items view.
  2. On the Library Tools Manage tab, in the Manage group, press the Manage Library button.

The dialog contains:

Including a folder in a library

In the library's Library Locations dialog:

  1. Press the Add button.
  2. An Include a folder dialog opens which has the structure of a standard Open dialog. Select a folder in the Items view, Tab to the Include folder button, and press it.

Note that after including a folder in a new empty library or one of the default libraries, the library is automatically set to be grouped by the included folders in the library. To switch this grouping off, go the View tab, and in the Current view group, press the Group by menu button and choose None. Once the grouping has been turned off for a particular library, it doesn't automatically turn on again.

An alternative way of including a folder is in the File Explorer window:

  1. Select the folder in either the Tree view or the Items view.
  2. Open its context menu, open the Include in library sub menu, and choose a library.

Changing the default save location

In the library's Library Locations dialog:

  1. Select the folder in the locations list.
  2. Choose Set as default save location on its context menu. Note that if the selected location is already the default save location, then the command on the menu is not shown.

Removing a folder from a library

In the library's Library Locations dialog:

  1. Select the folder in the locations list.
  2. Either choose Remove from its context menu, or Tab to the Remove button, and press it.
  3. If the removed folder was the default save location, then the first remaining folder in the list becomes the new default save location.

Creating a new library

  1. Select the Libraries folder in the Tree view
  2. Open its context menu, open the New sub menu and choose Library (the only option).
  3. Type in the name for the new library and press Enter.
  4. You can now include folders in the library.

Finding out where an item is stored

Because a library is a combined view of one or more folders, when you're in a library, you may not know where a particular file or folder is actually stored. To find out where it's stored:

  1. Open its context menu, and choose Open file location or Open folder location.
  2. The current location is changed to the folder where the item is stored, and you can then Tab to the address bar and read the split buttons.

Zip files – compressed folders

A zip file contains files which have been compressed to reduce their size, and it has the extension .zip. It can also contain the folder hierarchy associated with the files. For example, you could create a zip file which contained a folder, and all the folders and files beneath this folder in the folder hierarchy. The main uses of zip files are for sending files by email, downloading files from the web, and archiving.

Although a zip file really is a file, Windows also treats it as a folder, and refers to it as a Compressed (zipped) folder. This allows you to view and manage the contents of a zip file as if it were a folder:

The following sections describe the wizard for extracting all the items from a zip file, and two ways of creating one.

Extracting all the items

To extract all the items from a zip file, you can just select all the items, and then use copy and paste. Alternatively, you can use the Extract Compressed folders wizard:

  1. Either select the zip file and choose Extract all from its context menu, or set the zip file as your current location, move to the Extract tab, and in an unnamed group, press the Extract all button.
  2. The wizard for extracting all the files opens, and it consists of a single page which contains an Edit box which contains the default folder where the files are extracted, a Browse button, and a “Show extracted files when complete”check box. The default folder is in the same location as the zip file, and has the same name, except that the .zip extension has been removed. If you're happy with the default folder, then just Tab to the Extract button, and press it.
  3. If you don't want to extract to the folder suggested, Tab to the Browse button, and press it. A Select destination dialog opens. After selecting a folder, press the OK button, which returns you to the wizard. Tab to the Extract button, and press it.

Creating a new zip file containing existing files and/or folders

  1. Select the files and/or folders. The zip file will be created in the same location as these selected items.
  2. Open their context menu, open the Send To sub-menu, and choose Compressed (Zipped) Folder.
  3. You're taken to an edit box, which contains the default name of the zip file, which is the name of one of the files or folders, with a .zip extension. The text up to the .zip is selected, so if you type in a name without and extension, and then press Enter, the file will have a .zip extension

Creating a new empty zip file

  1. Move to the location which you want to contain the new zip file.
  2. On the Home tab, in the New group, press the New item menu button, and choose Compressed (Zipped) Folder, which is the last item on the menu.
  3. You're taken to an edit box where you can type in a name for the file. The default name is “Compressed (Zipped) Folder.zip”, and the text up to the .zip is selected. So if you type in a name with no extension, and press Enter, the file will have a .zip extension.

Ribbon

A ribbon is an alternative to having a menu bar and one or more toolbars. It includes a collection of controls which have been grouped into one or more tabs, which is similar to the grouping of controls in dialog boxes which have more than one page/tab.

The ribbon is made up of the following parts:

The Quick Access Toolbar is a short toolbar, and takes up a small part of the left hand end of the title bar. The upper and lower ribbons run across the entire width of the window, with the lower ribbon, which contains the controls of the active tab, taking up the most amount of screen space.

In File Explorer, the Home, Share, and View tabs are nearly always displayed. However, when the current location is either This PC or Network, the Home and Share tabs are absent. In addition to these tabs, some tabs are only displayed when a particular type of object is selected, and these are known as contextual tabs. For example, when the current location is a library, the Library tools manage tab is displayed, and when the search box is the focus, the Search tools search tab is displayed.

You have the choice as to whether to use the standard windows keystrokes for using the ribbon, or the Jaws virtual ribbon. The standard keystrokes are described in the next section, and the Using the Jaws virtual ribbon section below describes the alternative.

Note that in File Explorer, by default the ribbon is minimized, and in this state the controls of the active tab (the lower ribbon) are not shown be default. When the ribbon is minimized, then the windows keystrokes for using the ribbon are slightly different, and the Jaws virtual ribbon doesn't work properly. The rest of this section on the ribbon assumes that the ribbon is not minimized. To switch the minimization off:

  1. Press Alt to move to the ribbon
  2. Open the context menu, move to the minimize the ribbon option, and if this is checked, press Enter, otherwise press Esc to close the menu.

There is also a shortcut Ctrl + F1, which toggles whether or not a ribbon is minimized.

Using standard windows keystrokes

You can use the following keystrokes to move around the ribbon:

Note that unlike in dialog boxes, you can't switch between the tabs by pressing Ctrl + Tab.

Note also, that when you move away from the tabs to either other controls on the upper ribbon, or the Quick Access Toolbar, Jaws says that you're leaving the ribbon. You've leaving the ribbon tabs, but you're not in fact leaving the ribbon.

The next three sections give examples of using these keystrokes for: navigating the tabs, opening the File menu, and navigating the Quick Access Toolbar. There is then a section on using the access keys of the controls in the ribbon.

Navigating the tabs

It's possible to move around the controls in a tab using the arrow keys, but this isn't recommended: the problem is that the layout of the controls in a group of controls on a tab can vary: sometimes the controls are in a single row, sometimes, some of the controls are grouped into more than one row, and sometimes some of the controls are grouped into a column or say 2 or 3 controls. So if use Right Arrow or Left Arrow to move through the controls, where there's more than one row, you'll only move through the controls in one of the rows, and similarly in the case of a column, you only move to one of the controls in the column. This isn't a problem for sighted users, as they can see that in these cases they have to use the Up Arrow and/or Down Arrow keys as well to be able to move to all the controls. There is also an additional problem that you can get stuck in in edit boxes and accidentally change the settings of combo boxes.

Opening the File menu

To open the File menu: press Alt to move to the name of the active tab; then press either Left Arrow or Shift + Tab one or more times to move to the File tab button, and press it.

Navigating the Quick Access Toolbar

These are a number ways of moving the to the buttons on the Quick access toolbar:

Using the access keys

One difference between the access keys used on a ribbon, and the access keys used in menus and dialog boxes, is that on a ribbon an access key can consist of either one or two characters. Some of the controls on the tabs have access keys with two characters, and the access keys of all the names of contextual tabs consist of two characters, with the first character always being the letter J.

When you press Alt to move to the name of the active tab on the ribbon, then this keystroke also makes the access keys of all the items in the Quick Access Toolbar, and the upper ribbon available. Note that at this point, the access keys of the controls on the active tab are not available, even though they are visible. So, after pressing the Alt key:

Note that unfortunately, Jaws does not read out the access keys of either the File tab button or the tab names, or the buttons on the Quick Access toolbar. The access keys of the Home, Share and View tabs are H, S and V respectively. In addition Jaws only occasionally reads the access keys of the controls on the tabs. When it does so, it reads the complete series of keystrokes to activate the control, that is Alt followed by the access key of the tab name, followed by the access key of the control.

Additional notes:

Using the Jaws virtual ribbon

The Jaws virtual ribbon provides an alternative set of keystrokes for using the ribbon. The setting for whether to use the Jaws virtual ribbon, or the standard windows keystrokes is described in the Setting the Jaws virtual ribbon section. By default, the Jaws virtual ribbon is off.

The main features of the Jaws virtual ribbon are:

Using the Jaws virtual ribbon, these are the keystrokes for moving around the ribbon:

The next three sections give examples of using these keystrokes for: navigating the tabs, opening the File menu, and navigating the Quick Access Toolbar. There are then sections on using the access keys of the controls in the ribbon, and on first character navigation.

Navigating the tabs

After pressing Alt to move to the ribbon, the focus is either the active tab name or one of the controls of the active tab. From there you can move to any of the controls of any of the tabs by using the standard keystrokes for moving around menu bars and their associated menus.

For edit boxes and combo boxes, some of the keystrokes or interacting with them are also used for navigating the menus. For example, Down Arrow is used both for moving to the next menu item, and selecting the next option of a combo box. A similar problem occurs when interacting with these controls on web pages, and Jaws uses the same solution. To interact with edit boxes or combo boxes on the tab menus, you first have to press Enter to go into forms mode. Then Jaws knows that your keystrokes are intended to the control, and not to move around the menus.

Opening the File menu

To open the File menu:

Navigating the Quick Access Toolbar

To move to the buttons on the Quick Access toolbar:

  1. Press Alt to move to the ribbon.
  2. If the focus is one of the controls on the active tab, then press Esc twice to move to the name to the tab.
  3. If necessary, press Left Arrow until you get to the first tab name.
  4. Press Up Arrow to move to one of the buttons in the Quick Access Toolbar.
  5. You can then cycle round the buttons in the Quick Access Toolbar using either Right Arrow or Left Arrow.
  6. If you want to return to the upper ribbon, press Down Arrow.

Using the access keys

When using the virtual ribbon, only the access keys of the controls of the upper ribbon and the Quick Access Toolbar are available, and to use them you have to press the Alt key together with the access key, you can't press the Alt key, and then the access key.

First character navigation

You can use the first character of items to navigate both the names of the tabs, and the menus. When you press a character key:

The Jaws virtual ribbon setting

  1. Press Insert + V to open the QuickSetting - explorerframe dialog.
  2. In the this dialog, a search edit box is the initial focus. Type the letter V, and then press Down Arrow till you get to Virtual ribbon menu.
  3. To change whether of not this is checked, press Spacebar.
  4. Press Enter once, which clears the search box, and press again to press the default OK button.

Customizing the Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick access toolbar contains buttons for frequently used commands. The default buttons are properties, and new folder. Since these both have standard keyboard shortcuts, they're not particularly useful for users of screen readers. So if you use this toolbar regularly, you may find it helpful to remove these default buttons, and then add the ones that you want.

Note that you can also add and remove a small number of commands using the Customize Quick Access Toolbar menu, but this isn't particularly useful. The menu contains a small number of options for commands, including the default commands. The commands which are checked appear on the Quick Access Toolbar.

Customizing File Explorer

This section contains a number of useful customizations of File Explorer. Some of these have already been described in the guide, but are repeated here for convenience.

Folder options dialog

Many of the settings for File Explorer can be found in the File Options dialog. To open this dialog from within File Explorer: Open the File menu (Alt+F), and choose Change folder and search options.

You can also open this dialog from the Control panel, where it is referred to as File Explorer options.

Some of these settings can also be found on the ribbon, and in many cases, it's easier to find them there. In a number of the following sections, although changing a setting using the ribbon will be described, it's also possible to change the setting using this dialog if you prefer.

Initial location after opening File Explorer

By default, File Explorer opens at Quick access, but you can change this to This PC, which includes all your drives, and common folders. Quick access does have the advantage that you can customise it to include exactly the locations which you want, but many may find using This PC more convenient.

To change the initial location:

  1. Open the Folder options dialog. One way to do this is to open the File menu (Alt + F), and then choose Change folder and search options.
  2. On the General tab, the first control is an “Open File Explorer to” combo box, which has two options: Quick access, and This PC. Set the one you want, and then press Enter to press the default OK button.

Turn off the minimization of the ribbon

In File Explorer, the ribbon is minimized by default. When this is the case, the standard windows keystrokes for using the ribbon are slightly different, and the Jaws virtual ribbon doesn't work properly. To switch the minimization off:

  1. Press Alt to move to the ribbon
  2. Open the context menu, move to the minimize the ribbon option, and if this is checked, press Enter, otherwise press Esc to close the menu.

Show file extensions

To show file extensions in the Items view, go to the View tab, and in the Show/Hide group, check the File name extensions check box.

Show or hide hidden files and folders

On the View tab, in the Show/Hide group, there's a Hidden items check box, which is unchecked by default. Check this to show hidden files and folders.

Tree view options

The options for the tree view include the following, which are disabled by default, and were described in the Tree view section:

To set these options:

  1. On the View tab, in the Panes group, press the Navigation pane menu button.
  2. The menu includes the options described above. If the option isn't checked, press Enter to check it, otherwise press Esc to close the menu, and leave the settings unchanged.

Quick access options

By default, Quick access contains both frequently used folders and recently used files. If you don't want one or both of these to be shown, then:

  1. To open the Folder Options dialog: go to the View tab, and move to the Options split button which is in an unnamed group. Press Enter or Spacebar to press the menu button part of the split button, and choose Change folder and search options.
  2. On the General tab, there are two relevant check boxes: “Show recently used files in Quick access”, and “Show frequently used folders in Quick access”.

Delete confirmation dialog

By default, if you delete an item or items, and they're going to be moved to the Recycle bin, then the items are silently deleted – there's no confirmation dialog.

If you want a confirmation dialog:

  1. If the current location is This PC, move to another location, for example, Documents. If This PC is the current location, then the Home tab is not present on the ribbon, and you'll be using one of the controls on that tab.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Organize group, press the menu button part of the Delete split button by pressing Spacebar or Enter.
  3. On the menu, if the Show recycle confirmation option is not checked, press Enter, otherwise press Esc to close the menu.

Note that this option can also be set in the properties dialog of the recycle bin, which can be opened from the recycle bin's context menu.

Search options

  1. Move to the Search box (Ctrl + E), so that the Search tools search tab is displayed.
  2. On the Search tools search tab, in the Options group, press the Advanced options menu button.
  3. Although Jaws does not read this, the last three options on the menu apply only to searches in non-indexed locations. The options are whether to include File contents, system files, and zipped folders in these searches. By default, only system files is checked. If you want to check any of the others, press Enter, otherwise press Esc to leave the settings unchanged.

View options of the Items view

In this section, the term view options will be used for the following group of options of a location in the Items view: its view, the details present in the details view, sorting, and grouping. How to set these options is described above in the Views, Details view, Sorting, and Grouping section of the Items view section. In addition, some of the common customizations are described in the Views section, and this may well be all the information you need. This section provides further details about setting view options which will enable you to fully customize your view settings.

Issues such as the default view options, whether changing the view options of a location automatically changes the view options of other locations, and whether you can manually apply the view options of a location to other locations, all depend on the type of the location. These types are:

For Libraries, and folders, the default view options are determined by what kind of files they're optimized for, and this will be described in the next section, which is then followed by sections for the different types of location.

Optimization for kinds of files

All libraries and folders have a setting for optimizing them for the kind of files which are expected to be in that location, and the options are General Items, Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos. This setting determines the library's or folder's default view, and the default details present in the Details view.

View options of folders

For a folder, the setting of its optimization for the kind of files it contains is found on the Customize page of the folder's properties dialog. This dialog can be opened by selecting a folder in either the Tree view or the Items view, and choosing Properties from its context menu.

The first control on the Customize page is an “Optimize the folder for: ” combo box. Note that if you change the setting, the following control is a check box for applying the setting to all the subfolders.

By default, these are the optimizations for some common folders: Downloads is optimized for General items, Documents for documents, Music for music, Pictures for pictures, and Videos for videos.

When you change the view options of a folder, this does not affect the view settings of any other folder. However, you can manually apply all the views options of a folder, that is, its view, details, sorting and grouping, to all the other folders which are optimized for the same kinds of files:

  1. To open the Folder Options dialog: open the File menu (Alt + F), and choose Change folder and search options.
  2. Move to the View page.
  3. Press the Apply to Folders button. A Folder views dialog opens asking you whether you want all folders of this type to match this folder's view settings. Press Enter to press the Yes button.
  4. Tab to the OK button and press it.

Note that this also determines the view options of new folders of that type.

View options of top level folders

The Desktop folder at the top of the location hierarchy, and the folders which it contains, for example Libraries and This PC, are all special folders. Although not set to have a Details view by default, in many cases the details present in the details view are particular to that folder. For example, the details for the This PC folder include total size and free space. Because of this, these folders don't have a setting for optimizing them for the standard kinds of files.

By default, your personal folder has a Medium icons view, and the following have a Tiles view: Desktop, OneDrive (if present), This PC, Libraries, Network, and Recycle Bin. It's recommended that for these locations the view is changed to Details, or possibly List in the case of the Libraries folder.

View options of Libraries

There are a few of important points to understand about the behaviour of the view options of libraries.

  1. A library is a combined view of one or more folders which are included in the library. The view options of the library are completely independent of the view options of the included folders, and all the folders which these folders contain. For example, if you change any of the view options of your Documents folder, this has no effect on the view options of your Documents library.
  2. A library, and all the locations below it in the location hierarchy share the same view settings. So for example, if you first go to your Documents library, and then open a folder in the Items view to go down to that folder, both these locations have the same view options. If you change the view options whilst in either location, the options in the other location will then be the same.
  3. Libraries which are optimized for the same kind of file share the same view settings.

As you might have guessed, by default the Document library is optimized for documents, the Music library for music, the Pictures library for pictures, and the Video library for videos. The default view options for the various kinds of files were given in the previous section.

For a library, the setting of its optimization for kinds of files is found in the library's properties dialog. This dialog can be opened by selecting a library in either the Tree view of the Items view, and choosing Properties from its context menu. In the dialog, there's a “Optimize the library for:” combo box.

View options of Disks and devices

In general, the view options of disks and devices behave in the same way as folders, and by default they are optimized for General Items. One exception to this is the disk which contains Windows 10, and this doesn't have a optimization for kinds of files setting.

Keystrokes

Command Keystroke
Open File Explorer at its default location Windows key + E
Cycle around: Address bar in split button mode, Search box, Tree view, Items view, and if this has a Details view, a Name split button, which is the first of the column headings, view mode radio buttons. Tab, or Shift + Tab
Move to Items view Ctrl + Tab, twice
Move to Search box Ctrl + E or Ctrl + F or F3
In the Items view, move up a location Alt + Up Arrow
List view Ctrl + Shift + 5 or Ctrl + Alt + 5, depending on language
Details view Ctrl + Shift + 6 or Ctrl + Alt + 6, depending on language
Back to previous location Alt + Left Arrow
Forward Alt + Right Arrow
Create a new folder Ctrl + Shift + N
Move to Address bar in edit combo box mode Alt + D
In the address bar, switch to split buttons mode Esc
In the address bar, switch to edit combo box mode Alt + D, or with focus on desktop split button, Spacebar
If necessary, expand the tree view so that the current location is shown, and then select this folder. Ctrl + Shift + E

Ribbon when using standard windows keystrokes

Command Keystroke
Move to the ribbon Alt
Leave the ribbon Alt or Esc
Cycle forwards or backwards round: File tab button, tab names, minimise the ribbon button, and the help button Right Arrow or Left Arrow respectively
Cycle forwards or backwards round: File tab button, Quick Access Toolbar buttons, active tab name, minimize the ribbon button, help button, the controls on the active tab Tab or Shift + Tab respectively
Cycle forwards or backwards round: File tab button, first Quick Access Toolbar button, customize Quick Access Toolbar button, active tab name, and the first control in each group on the active tab Ctrl + Right Arrow or Ctrl + Left Arrow respectively
Cycle forwards or backwards round the Quick Access Toolbar buttons Right Arrow or Left Arrow respectively
Move to Quick Access Toolbar from the first tab name Up Arrow
Open the File menu Alt + F, or Alt, F
Quick Access Toolbar button Alt + number, or Alt, number

Ribbon when using the Jaws Virtual ribbon

Command Keystroke
Move to the ribbon Alt
Leave the ribbon Alt or Esc
Cycle forwards or backwards round: File tab button, tab names, minimize the ribbon button, and help button Right Arrow or Left Arrow respectively
Open a tab menu Down Arrow or Enter
Move to Quick Access Toolbar from the first tab name Up Arrow
Cycle forwards or backwards round the Quick Access Toolbar buttons Right Arrow or Left Arrow respectively
Open the File menu Alt + F
Quick Access Toolbar button Alt + number