How to Use File Manager

Just like the name would suggest,  File Manager is a Windows utility that basically allows users to organize and manage their files on a PC. Before getting into the nitty-gritty details on how to use File Manager, let’s when and why this utility was conceived, its key features and latest versions.

What is File Manager?

Initially released 28 years ago (May 22, 1990), File Manager is a Windows utility that comes bundled with several versions of Windows operating systems starting from 1990 to 1999. The program features a single graphical interface for managing files and their respective functions such as copy, move, delete open, search, etc.

This essential part of the Windows experience has evolved over the years, from File Manager in the earlier versions, Windows Explorer from Windows 95, and File Explorer first introduced in Windows 8.

What’s New with File Manager in Windows 10?

The first notable feature of the new File Manager, aka Windows Explorer is the ribbon interface, and integrated Microsoft OneDrive for syncing files to the cloud. Another welcome change is the replacement of the “Favorites” with “Quick Access,” which can be populated with folders you’d like quick access to by simply dragging and dropping files to this area.

You can also remove the files from the Quick Access area by right clicking it, and selecting “Unpin From Quick Access.” Take note that Windows 10 will automatically add recently used folders to this area, so don’t be surprised to find files in the Quick Access area that you didn’t pin there.

Further, the “My Computer” section is now replaced with “This PC,” and is where you can gain access to the drives including USB and DVD drives and data folders on your PC.

File Manager Keyboard Shortcuts

Shift + Del

Unlike pressing just the Delete button to delete files, pressing a combination of Shift + Delete gets rid of the files permanently and bypassing the Recycle Bin. In short – they cannot be recovered.

Windows + E

Pressing this combination of keys opens the File Manager.


Allows users to rename their selection.

Alt + Enter

Displays the properties of the selected object.

Alt + Up

Pressing these two keys simultaneously switches to the parent folder in the hierarchy.


Close the current File Explorer window.


Maximize the File Explorer window, and press again to shrink it.

How to Use the Ribbon in Windows File Explorer?

The Windows File Manager ribbon offers similar functionality as the one in Microsoft Office, and other Office applications, and can be used in several different ways. For starters, you can either leave the ribbon collapsed if you need more space in your file browsing windows, and click on any of the tabs such as “Home,” “Share” or “View” to have it appear temporarily.

Should you wish to display the ribbon at all times, you can do this by clicking on the arrow located near the top right corner of the File Explorer window or press Ctrl+F1. Clicking on the “Home” tab in File Explorer provides you several options when working with files such as Rename, New Folder, Properties, Copy, Paste, Delete, etc.

Moving one step to the right is the “Share” tab, which provides options such as zipping, emailing, printing files as well as burning them to a disc and sharing them on the local network. The “View” tab allows you to control how files are sorted and their appearance in File Manager.

Functions you can access from the “View” tab include enabling a details or preview pane if you’d like more information on a specific file, sorting files by the criteria you prefer, and selecting between a dense file list or large icons. There is also a manage tab, but it only appears with contextually appropriate commands such as “Picture Tools.”

Changing Settings in File Manager

Most of the settings that need to be changed can be done by clicking on the “View” tab and then the “Options” icon. The dialog that opens is similar to the one in Windows 7, and allows you to toggle between several new options including opening File Explorer to either This PC or Quick Access view.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the full path is no longer displayed in Windows 8 and later versions, but here’s the trick to get it back. Click the View in the File Explorer Ribbon, then Options towards the far right, and lastly change folder and tab options. From the dialog box that opens, find and checkmark “Display full path in the title bar.”

How to Use OneDrive in File Explorer

Another great feature of the latest version of File manager is that you can sync files to Microsoft’s OneDrive directly from the interface. To start syncing files, click on the OneDrive option in the sidebar of File Explorer, sign into OneDrive with your Microsoft account credentials if prompted, and then place the files in the designated OneDrive folder.

Once the files you would like to sync are loaded into the folder, you can check the status of the files in the “Status” field – blue icon appears when a file is stored in OneDrive but will be downloaded automatically when you open it and green checkmark indicates that the file is stored both on OneDrive and your current PC.

However, controlling OneDrive’s settings can only be done from the OneDrive notification area (system tray) icon that is located at the bottom right corner of your screen. In addition to OneDrive, you can click on the Network icon located at the bottom of the left-hand menu to view printers, folders and media servers shared on the network.


When learning how to use File Manager, you will discover a myriad of new features apart from the ones mentioned above including using a darker theme, tagging any file or re-enabling the “libraries” feature. It is regarded as the hub for the Windows operating systems, from where you can manage a plethora of files and functions.

Leave a Comment