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Windows 7: Windows Explorer is driving me crazy!

13 Jun 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
Windows Explorer is driving me crazy!

I just moved over from Windows XP and find that Windows Explorer in Windows 7 is very different and hard for me to use. First,
What is with the Libraries. I never know if I am looking at a real folder or some pseudo folder. Between Libraries, Favorites, and listings inder c:/, I can see the same thing 3 or more times. But are they the same thing?
Windows Explorer is hard (for me) to customize. I like to see files ordered by date created... always. I can't seem to make it "stick."
I can see a "back" arrow, but can't find a "move up" arrow that I used to use. I'd would like to see more common tasks (delete, copy, move) more readily available.
There are other problems that I'm having with Explorer. I need a good, concise, easily digestible explanantion of how to use the Windows 7 Explorer. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jun 2011   #2

Windows 7 Professional x64

  1. A library combines the contents of multiple folders that have similar purposes. When you create a file in a library, that file will be placed in the library's default folder.
  2. Unfortunately, I am not sure how to keep your settings. Maybe someone else can help with this.
  3. You are correct that Windows 7's Windows Explorer has no level up button. There are, however, two workarounds. First, you can press Alt+Up on your keyboard. Second, you can click on the folder one level up in the address bar.
Hope this helps.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2011   #3

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by RadxBoy View Post
Windows Explorer is hard (for me) to customize. I like to see files ordered by date created... always. I can't seem to make it "stick."
Just to try and help you get your bearings (as I, too, had a bit of a problem early on with the new look of Explorer when upgrading from XP to Win7), a picture's worth 1000 words, so I'll share a few screenshots to make my points.

As far as "libraries", this is purportedly a very convenient and user-friendly new feature of Win7... although I myself do not utilize it. Personal preference. I'm much more at home using "Computer" and all of the individual partitions I have, having placed things on my four hard drives over the years just as I wanted. And much of that is data, and I know exactly where it is, and I don't need to use "libraries" as a collection or shortcut for the assorted Windows or 3rd-party products I might use to access the data.

Anyway, you can simply "close up" all of the special purpose categories shown on the initial Explorer presentation.

And then you can "expand" Computer (if that's what you want to do, as I do when using Explorer), and you're now in familiar territory. You can then expand particular drive letters and folders/sub-folders, just like you would with XP's Explorer.

Now the key to Win7's Explorer enhancements is that the various alternative presentations (which DO stick, for THAT folder, for THAT application accessing that folder either in an OPEN or SAVE AS... dialog), is that special control toward the right side of the function bar (just below the menu bar). If you hover your mouse over the icon it will show "change your view". Hover the mouse over the down-arrow just to the right of the icon and it will show "more options".

If you repeatedly push the "change your view" icon you will cycle through the various presentation options, but you won't really know which one you're seeing or which one will appear next.

Instead, I recommend you push the "more options" down-arrow, and select exactly which option you want to have in effect for THAT folder, for THAT application accessing that folder, for either OPEN or SAVE AS dialogs. If you just play with this a bit, you'll soon see what the typical or most useful presentations are, depending on the particular folder you're working with in what application.

Myself, I usually use either "details" or "list" views. Details shows all of the various columns of information with column headings, and "list" shows only the external file names (WITH the extension, if you've set your Folder Options to not hide commonly used extensions as I have) in a multi-column arrangement.

If you are in "details" view with column headings, you can click on any of the column headings and the rows will re-sort themselves based on the values in the cells of that column. Click repeatedly on the column heading and you will sort and re-sort into ascending and descending sequence. Note that the currently selected column for sorting, as well as the ascending/descending sort sequence, well this is also remembered for that folder, etc.

Furthermore, if you are in "details" mode and you are say sorted by "date modified" (i.e. most recently modified in the first row), and then you change to "list" mode, the sort sequence is retained for the new presentation mode. So your new "list" view (with just the external file names in multiple columns) will be in the same "newest first" sequence, even though the "date modified" column does not appear in "list" mode.

In addition, there are many many many columns of information available for display that are not shown by default, based on folder, type of file in that folder, etc.. But you can customize the columns shown (as well as the sequence of columns presented) by simply right-clicking on the column heading bar.

If you want to pick from some of the more exotic columns available, or you want to rearrange the order of the columns presented, select the "more..." item and follow the "choose details" dialog wizard (including using the UP/DOWN buttons to rearrange the checked column presentation sequence).

Hopefully, this should be enough get you a bit more comfortable with the new Explorer.

I can see a "back" arrow, but can't find a "move up" arrow that I used to use.
If you're referring to the two blue circles with the left/right white arrows in them, they are used just like BACK/FORWARD in your Internet Explorer or Firefox etc. browsers. They literally go back and forward to whatever was the last thing you had presented on the screen... just like web pages in a browser.

Notice however that at the very top of the Explore window there is an area which I call the "navigation bar" (or, just the "address bar"). It's like the URL address area for a browser. It shows you exactly the complete folder/sub-folder scheme you took to navigate down to wherever you are currently located through Explorer.

In fact, the old "up folder" button you used to use in XP to go back up one level at a time higher in folder structure from where you are? Well, in Win7 you don't have that limitation of going back up only one folder at at time... although you can do that too if you want to.

In Win7, you can simply click directly on ANY of the folder/sub-folder levels which appear in this "navigation bar", and you will instantly be taken DIRECTLY TO THAT LEVEL! So you can back up (a) one level at a time by clicking on the next higher item immediately to the left of the last item shown, which corresponds to your current navigation level, or (b) to any direct level by simply clicking ON THAT FOLDER!! Presto... you're right there.

One more note. In Win7 you get to the "Folder Options" item to change what you see (e.g. to show hidden files, to not suppress extensions, apply this view to ALL folders, etc.) by selecting on the "Organize" item on the control bar, select "folder and search options":

Then you'll get the familiar "Folder Options" dialog window and you should select the familiar "View" tab.

One more thing... you may have noticed that the RUN function (from Start -> Run) from WinXP is not shown by default in Win7. But you can make it re-appear on the Win7 Start menu.

Right-click on the taskbar, select Properties, select the Start Menu tab, and push the Customize button. The list of Start menu customization options are presented alphabetically. Scroll down to the "Run command" box and check it.

Now the "Run" item will appear on the Start menu.

I'd would like to see more common tasks (delete, copy, move) more readily available.
Once you're in your expanded view (e.g. from Computer), just right-click on a file and the expected context menu will appear with the familiar copy, delete, etc., functions.

There is no way to "customize" the button bar in Win7 as there was in XP, to show things such as "UNDO", "MAP NETWORK DRIVE", etc.

Now as one further recommendation, if you're interested in trying out a very highly recommended file manager replacement/substitute for Windows Explorer, you might look into Free Commander.

It's a much more conventional GUI 1/2-pane file manager that IS highly customizable in its presentation (and buttons), and is extremely intuitive and familiar looking (probably). If you're looking for your expected and desired complete set of shortcuts (either as buttons for mouse clicks or from the keyboard and Fn keys, for example for RENAME (F2), COPY (F5) and MOVE (F6) from what's shown in one pane one pane to what's shown in the the other pane) then Free Commander is definitely for you.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

14 Jun 2011   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1

Good explanation +1
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2011   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate N 64-bit

FYI radxboy, there is a .reg file on the net where u can remove icon only, disable libraries, and restore libraries, as i hate using or even seeing the useless win 7 libraries
edit: there u go
u can right click and delete each location from properties from libraries and leave urself with just the libraries folder, but what i do on all my PC's is use the reg editor below to remove.

How To Disable and Remove Libraries from Windows 7 Explorer My Digital Life
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2011   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate (x64)

dsperber gave an in-depth description, I just wanted to add a couple of points.

First of all, the explorer is highly customizable. I attach a screenshot of mine, the way it opens when I click on the desktop shortcut icon. You will see that it's somewhat different.

Second, Windows 7 wants to "optimize" folder view for a particular content. If you right-click on any folder, go to Properties -> Customize, you will see the first question: "What kind of folder do you want?". The menu allows you to choose from several options, including Pictures, Music, General Items, etc. What's important is that when you customize your folder in Folder Options and then click "Apply to Folders", you're changing the template for the folders of this type only. That is, if your folder was General Items, then your customization applies to General Items, but not to Music! So, if you want all of your folders to be ordered by date created, then all of your folders should be of the same type.

Finally, Windows 7 will try to sense the content of your folders and change the folder type accordingly. You might or might not like this behavior. You may try the tutorial Folder Template - Default , which also describes how to disable the Automatic Folder Type Discovery.

Attached Thumbnails
Windows Explorer is driving me crazy!-capture.png  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2011   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1

Libraries are great. I have my file, pictures, videos books etc scattered around two disks because one is not big enough and use libraries to collect them all together. It also keeps the backup of the c: drive reasonably small as I store "archives" which don't need frequent backup on a separate drive but can see them all together in the libraries.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2011   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Thank you all for the wealth of information and help. I will try out some of the alternatives offered. If I may comment, the use of Libraries is similar to another product feature which has fans and non-fans. This is Evernote which I use and like very much. However, many Evernote users would like the ability to use cascading subdirectories there. This is something that many of use started using years ago and are used to. Evernote does not have that ability and the vendor is trying to make everyone use "tags" instead. Tags are very much like Windows 7 Libraries. I suppose these features have merit but those of use who are familiar with using directory structure (from back in the day when folders were called directories) are feeling left out. At least I am. I'll see if I can make the leap!

BTW, is this how it's done on a Mac?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2011   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1

It depends on how your libraries are set up and the way you view them. If you use Folder View the the library is just shown as a collection of folders which can be separated by path if you wish. It's worth experimenting with the various options until you get one you are most comfortable with.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2011   #10
Phone Man

Windows 8.1 Pro w/Media Center 64bit, Windows 7 HP 64bit

Lots of good features in this new version. Play with it and you may learn to love it. One feature I like is under Folder Option/View and is the Check Box. Lets you select multiple files with a check box.

Windows Explorer is driving me crazy!-box.png


My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Windows Explorer is driving me crazy!

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