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.
This is a guide to File Explorer on Windows 8.1, and it's been updated to cover the Windows 8.1 update released in April 2014.
In previous major versions of windows, the equivalent program was called Windows Explorer, and in fact File Explorer in Windows 8 is very similar to Windows Explorer in Windows 7, except that it uses a ribbon. 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.
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.
Split buttons are used in a number of places in File Explorer, one of which is the Address bar. For those not familiar with split buttons, this variety of button consists of two parts. One part behaves like a standard button. The other part behaves like a menu button, and opens a menu containing commands which are related to the command which is executed by the standard button part of the split button.
The standard button part of the split button contains a label, which can either be text or a graphic, and this is the name of the command executed by this part of the split button, and the name of the split button which Jaws reads. The part of the split button which opens a menu contains a triangle, which indicated for sighted users that it opens a menu.
Normally a split button is split so that the standard button part is on the left hand side, and the menu button part on the right. However, sometimes they are split so that the standard button part is the top part, and the menu button part is the bottom part.
The keystrokes for pressing the two parts of a split button depend on where it is in the user interface. There are two main cases: when it's not on a ribbon, and when it's on a ribbon.
You can press the standard part of the split button using the normal keystrokes for pressing a button: Enter, and Spacebar. The keystroke for pressing the menu button part of the split button depends on whether the split button is part of a row of controls, or part of a column of controls. If the split button is in a toolbar, where the controls are arranged in a row, then you press the menu button part of the split button by pressing Down Arrow. Alternatively, if the split button is part of a column, where then you press the menu button part by pressing Right Arrow.
You can press the menu button part of the split button by pressing Enter or Spacebar. There isn't a standard windows keystroke for pressing the standard button part of split button. Normally this isn't a problem, as the command executed by the standard button part is included in the commands on the menu. When this isn't the case you can press it using the Jaws cursor: press Insert + Numpad minus to route the Jaws cursor to the PC cursor, and then press Numpad Slash to press the left mouse button.
By default, the main window contains the following components:
There are a number of ways of opening File Explorer. The initial focus is always the Items view, but the initial current location, whose contents are shown in the Items view, varies. For example:
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 folders: OneDrive, your personal folder, This PC, Libraries, Network, Control Panel, and Recycle bin.
Libraries were introduced in Windows 7. A library is a combined view of one or more folders, and by default there are four libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos.
By default, each library includes the corresponding folder in your personal folder. For example, the music library includes your music folder.
With the default settings, then for the music, pictures and videos libraries, if you're viewing their content, opening or saving files, etc, then it doesn't matter whether you use the library or the corresponding folder. However, if you've signed in using a Microsoft account, then the Documents library behaves slightly differently than the Documents folder in your personal folder. In this case the Documents library includes both the Documents folder in your personal folder, and the Documents folder in the OneDrive folder. If you save a file in your Documents library, then it's saved in the Documents folder in the OneDrive folder, rather than in your personal folder.
Libraries are covered in more detail in the Libraries section later in the guide, and this includes descriptions of including additional folders in libraries, and creating new ones.
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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
Changing the view setting using shortcut keystrokes. These are of the form Ctrl + Shift + number (1-8), where the numbers for the options are:
Changing the view setting using the Item view's context menu:
Changing to the Details view, using the view modes radio buttons:
Fortunately, the default view setting of many common locations is Details. This is the case for the Documents and Music libraries, and the Downloads folder. 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.
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:
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:
The Choose details dialog includes:
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.
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.
You can select a single item using the keystrokes: Up Arrow, Down Arrow, Home, End, and the first character or characters of an item.
Press Ctrl + A.
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.
In the Items view, you can move either down or up the location hierarchy:
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.
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.
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 the Documents library is filtered by the Type property of Microsoft Word documents, then the split buttons in the address bar are something like: Desktop, Libraries, Documents, Microsoft Word 97-2003. 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.
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.
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:
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 library, then the split buttons are: Desktop, Libraries, and Documents. You can read this as Desktop contains Libraries, 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.
To change the current location using the split buttons:
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.
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.
The Tree view contains both a tree view of the hierarchy of locations and your favorite locations. 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.
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.
With the Favorites, Libraries 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.
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.
The Favorites item at the top of the Tree view contains shortcuts to favorite locations, and the default locations are Desktop, Downloads, and Recent Places. You can also add and remove these locations, as described in the following sections. Adding a favorite location can be particularly useful for quickly moving to locations which are deep down in the location hierarchy.
The following sections describe how to add to and manage the Favorite locations.
Select a shortcut to a location contained by the Favorites item, and press Delete.
To sort the locations by name, select the Favorites item, and choose Sort by name from its context menu.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Note that this option can also be set on the properties dialog of the 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.
To rename an item:
When you create a new folder, it's created in the current location.
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:
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:
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 library to a Folder in this library:
The Sent To sub menu provides a convenient way of copying one or more items to a number of locations and programs.
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.
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:
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 library, the Downloads folder, and disks. Although, by default, the Music library 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:
The size of a selected folder, or the total size of a number selected folders is shown in their properties dialog:
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.
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.
To search the current location using the search box:
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.
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 library, 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.
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.
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:
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:7/6/08, would match files modified on 7/6/08, 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:
To specify ranges of dates or sizes, you can use the following operators: <, >, <=, >=, and .. . For example:
You can use the following values for specifying dates:
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:
OneDrive is the name of Microsoft's online storage, and which was previously called SkyDrive. Using this, you can store up to 15GB for no charge. If you sign in to Windows 8.1 with a Microsoft account, then this storage is integrated into your account: there's a OneDrive folder in File Explorer, as previously described in the Hierarchy of locations section, and you can access this folder using both programs and apps. If you sign in using a local account, then you can only access this storage using the OneDrive website.
The main advantage of storing files online is that you can then easily access them from other computers. If you want to use online storage, then there are also several alternatives to OneDrive, including Dropbox and Google Drive.
There are two options for the availability of a file in your OneDrive folder:
Whether a file is available offline, or online only, you can always delete, move, rename, and search for the file. The only difference is that if a file is available online only, then its contents are only available if you're connected to the internet.
In File Explorer, the availability of a file is indicated by the Availability column in the Details view. In addition, if all the items contained in a folder are available offline, then the availability of the folder is indicated to to offline. Otherwise the availability of a folder is indicated to be Online only.
If you save, copy, or move a file to your OneDrive folder, then it is automatically set to be Available offline on that computer, and Online only on other computers which you can sign in to. If a file in your OneDrive folder is available online only and you open it, then it's automatically changed to be Available offline on that computer.
You can manually change the availability of a file or folder using the appropriate command on its context menu, for example “make available online only”. If you change the availability of a folder, then this changes the availability of all the items in the folder.
A library is a combined view of one or more folders which are included in the library. For example, if you have music files on both your computer's hard disk and an external hard disk, you can create a combined view of all your music files.
These are some important properties of libraries:
By default there are four libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. By default, the folders which these libraries include are as follows:
If you're using a local account, the then default save locations of each of the libraries is the corresponding folder in your Personal folder. However, if you've signed in with a Microsoft account, then by default, the default save location of the Documents library is the OneDrive Documents folder, rather than the Documents folder in your personal folder. Note that this is affected by a setting in PC settings. In the OneDrive category of PC Settings, there's a File storage sub-category which contains the “Save documents to OneDrive by default” button. If this is checked, then the default save location is the OneDrive Documents folder, otherwise it's the Documents folder in your personal folder.
Before describing various tasks such as including a folder in a library and creating a new library, the next section described a library's Library Locations dialog, which is used in most of these tasks.
To open the Library Locations dialog for a library:
The dialog contains:
In the library's Library Locations dialog:
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:
In the library's Library Locations dialog:
In the library's Library Locations dialog:
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:
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.
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:
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 always displayed. Though, in fact, when the current location is either the This PC folder or Network the Share tab is 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:
There is also a shortcut Ctrl + F1, which toggles whether or not a ribbon is minimized.
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 Application menu, and navigating the Quick Access Toolbar. There is then a section on using the access keys of the controls in the ribbon.
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.
To open the Application 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 Application menu button, and press it.
These are a number ways of moving the to the buttons on the Quick access toolbar:
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 Application menu 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.
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:
Note that the two pairs of windows keystrokes, Tab and Shift + Tab, and Ctrl + Left Arrow and Ctrl + Right Arrow, have no effect when using the Jaws virtual ribbon.
The next three sections give examples of using these keystrokes for: navigating the tabs, opening the Application 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.
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.
To open the Application menu:
To move to the buttons on the Quick Access toolbar:
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
Many of the settings of File Explorer can be found in the File Options dialog, just like they could in previous versions of Windows Explorer. However, many of these settings are now also available on the ribbon, and in most cases, it's easier to find them there, rather than in this dialog. But, if you prefer to use the Folder options dialog, you still can. Note that the keyboard navigation of the Search page of the dialog is broken.
To open the Folder Options dialog from within File Explorer:
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.
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.
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:
Note that this also determines the view options of new folders of that type.
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.
There are a few of important points to understand about the behaviour of the view options of libraries.
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.
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 8, and this doesn't have a optimization for kinds of files setting.
|Open File Explorer at This PC||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|
|In the Items view, move up a location||Alt + Up Arrow|
|List view||Ctrl + Shift + 5|
|Details view||Ctrl + Shift + 6|
|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|
|Move to the ribbon||Alt|
|Leave the ribbon||Alt or Esc|
|Cycle forwards or backwards round: Application menu button, tab names, and help button||Right Arrow or Left Arrow respectively|
|Cycle forwards or backwards round: Application menu button, Quick Access Toolbar buttons, active tab name, minimize ribbon button, help button, the controls on the active tab||Tab or Shift + Tab respectively|
|Cycle forwards or backwards round: Application menu 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 Application menu||Alt + F, or Alt, F|
|Quick Access Toolbar button||Alt + number, or Alt, number|
|Move to the ribbon||Alt|
|Leave the ribbon||Alt or Esc|
|Cycle forwards or backwards round: Application menu 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 Application menu||Alt + F|
|Quick Access Toolbar button||Alt + number|