How to make Windows Explorer, which needs to be opened every day, more user-friendly?

How to make Windows Explorer, which needs to be opened every day, more user-friendly?

Among the many built-in applications of the Windows operating system, the one we deal with the most is probably the resource manager. The current importance of Windows Explorer, which is no less than the Start menu, has undergone multiple changes in its development history. From the Windows 3.0 era, which only provided a basic browsing window, to the addition of Windows 2000 file search function, and then to the subsequent changes in Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, such as the information column, tree structure, and quick action toolbar, Windows Explorer has been exploring between functionality and ease of use.

In the latest version of Windows 10, Explorer has completely adopted a Ribbon interface style similar to Office 2007. It uses different feature cards to quickly manage the current directory or files. Even if you can’t remember the corresponding shortcut keys, you can still find the corresponding functions, which is very convenient.

But besides opening, browsing, viewing, and managing files, what are the rare and practical features of Windows Explorer, and what methods do we have to modify the appearance and functionality of this daily “old friend” to make it more user-friendly?

Quickly open your resource manager and follow this article to organize them one by one.

The power of the library cannot be underestimated
Windows Explorer comes with many features, including some practical and efficient but often overlooked features, such as the “library” introduced since Windows 7.

In the era of Windows XP, organizing documents actually relied more on users to categorize them themselves. For example, for administrative personnel, the company’s document materials needed to create multiple different types of folders, such as “administrative documents”, “financial information”, “promotional copy”, “personnel data”, and so on. After the emergence of new document materials, we can classify them according to this naming method, which is relatively convenient to index.

But there are some problems with this method of organizing documents: for example, when managing administrative files of multiple departments at the same time, how to unify the management of folders of the same type and corresponding materials? Can’t you open multiple corresponding folders and search for them one by one?

Therefore, starting from Windows 7, the concept of “libraries” was introduced in Windows Explorer, which can plan file directories together in an intuitive way, thus unifying the management of files and folders from different paths in one window.

If you are using Windows 7 (Windows 10 requires checking “Display Library” in the folder options), you will see that the system has built-in default libraries for videos, images, documents, downloads, and music in the Explorer. In fact, this also basically fits most types of files. We can manually add eligible folders from the computer to the corresponding type of library.

For example, if my Thunder download folder is D: \ Thunder Download, then in the “Download” library, right-click ->Properties ->Add, then select D: \ Thunder Download and confirm. This way, my “Download” library contains Thunder’s download folder, and my browser’s default download folder can also be added to this library in a similar way. After adding, I can click on “Download” in the navigation pane to see all the download folders in the system.

Correspondingly, in some scenarios, I need to create some special libraries. For example, if the development source code is scattered in different disk spaces, we can right-click on the icon of the library ->New ->Library, then select the newly created “Code Library” and use the method of “right-click ->Properties ->Add ->Select Folder ->OK” to put all the code directories into the library. The advantage of this is that when I need to manage code projects, I no longer need to remember the corresponding directory location. The sorting method in the library interface can easily manage different projects.

You can understand a library as a deeper “shortcut”, which manages mapped folder directories and categorizes them into folders of the same logical type, without affecting the source directory structure.

Related reading: The “library” function that you may have never used before is actually a file organizing tool in Windows

Throw commonly used files into “Quick Access”
Friends who use Windows 10 should have noticed that by default, Windows 10 does not have the “Library” feature enabled, but instead introduces a feature called “Quick Access” to replace it.

Essentially, the nature of quick access is very similar to macOS’s “personal favorites”. Through quick access, we can intuitively view the recently opened file directory, fix commonly used folders to “quick access”, and no longer need to search for files in multiple directories.

The first thing to enter when opening Windows 10’s Explorer is “Quick Access”. The most commonly used folders are displayed above the pane, while the most recently opened files are displayed. For me, who needs to deal with documents frequently, more of my daily work is to edit existing documents, and using quick access to directly open recent files is very simple and fast.

There are some folders in the system that may require frequent access, but they are placed in deeper directories. It would be too troublesome to search for them layer by layer every time. Therefore, we can fix the folder directory to “Quick Access” – simply right-click on the target, select “Pin to Quick Access”, and then directly access the directory in “Quick Access” without having to mine it layer by layer.

Of course, for those who value privacy more, you can uncheck the corresponding checkbox in “Folder Options”, so that when you open “Quick Access”, only the manually fixed file directory will be displayed.

“Quick Access” can be said to be a simplified version of the “Library” function, which requires a certain degree of organization and adjustment compared to the “Library” function, but it is more intuitive to mount based on basic folders. Both are very intuitive and efficient small features in Windows Explorer, and using them proficiently can definitely help you organize file information.

Expand your Windows Explorer
Although the Explorer has been greatly improved in Windows 10, it still has some inconveniences for many users. For example, the multi tag feature, which originated from web browsers, can greatly boost productivity, as we really don’t want to open multiple Explorer windows when moving or managing documents.

It may not be realistic to refactor a resource manager for this, so the most convenient approach is to extend it based on Windows Explorer. Among many resource manager extension tools, the best one may be QTTabBar.

The most core function of QTTabBar is to add a multi tab feature similar to a web browser to the Explorer. After successfully launching, you will find that there is an additional tab bar in the Explorer. In the past, when opening a directory, you needed to open a window, but now when opening a directory, you need to open a tab. This way, no matter how many folders the Explorer window is opened, it can be organized.

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In addition to supporting opening folders with multiple tabs, QTTabBar can also treat folders as web bookmarks. For example, if we want to open multiple folders at once, we can achieve this through a “group” function similar to a bookmark group, where multiple folders can be opened at once through a group.

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QTTabBar also has a built-in real-time file preview function similar to macOS. For example, when you select a file, a preview window of the file will appear around the mouse, and you don’t need to use other tools to open it to know the file content; In addition, it also supports folder preview. Click the small arrow on the right side of the folder to know how many file contents are stored in it.

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In addition to these features, QTTabBar also supports plugins, automated script processing, and more. If you have folder management needs in multiple directories, QTTabBar’s rich features and shortcut key support can greatly improve work efficiency.

Related reading: What QTTabBar “Explorer” should look like

I need to change the shell of the resource manager
Since its launch, Windows Explorer has undergone multiple facelifts, so besides its features, there are definitely some people who are not satisfied with its appearance. How to make the resource manager look more in line with your usage habits?

OldNewExplorer: Using Windows 7’s old bottles to bottle new wine
Not everyone likes Windows 10’s Explorer. Although the Ribbon interface reduces the complexity of feature operations, it occupies a lot of screen space with a large number of functional areas. In addition, Windows 10 has removed attribute based drive grouping, and both local and removable disks are collectively referred to as “devices and drives.”.

OldNewExplorer is a shell program that downgrades the Windows 8.1/Windows 10 Explorer to Windows 7. Through it, you can change the Explorer of Windows 10 to look similar to Windows 7: for example, restoring the concise ribbon of Windows 7 and paying homage to the complex Ribbon interface; Devices and drives have become grouped based on device properties, with local disks and removable disks all returning… everything is more in line with the usage habits of old-fashioned users.

The most important thing is that the detailed information pane of Windows 10, which was deleted, has returned: you can directly see your computer configuration in Explorer, and when you click on a folder, you can also know which files are inside, how much space the folder has, and so on.

Download address

Authentic UWP: Enable the hidden new version of Windows Explorer
Some people like retro, so naturally others like modern, but even Windows 10 Explorer based on the Ribbon interface still makes people feel out of place with the system style of Windows 10 itself – after all, it is not much different from Windows 8.1 Explorer in essence, and the gap with Fluent Design is even further.

But in fact, Windows 10 already has a built-in UWP resource manager, which is only hidden by default. Fortunately, the method of activation is not complicated:

Right click on the desktop, select Create Shortcut, and enter: explorer shell: AppsFolder \ c5e2524a-ea46-4f67-841f-6a9465d9d515_cw5n1h2txyewy in the address bar! App

Click Next, then name the shortcut UWP Explorer. Double click on this Explorer shortcut on the desktop to open the UWP version of Windows Explorer.

In terms of functionality, UWP’s resource manager is a bit rudimentary. When opened, it looks quite like a resource manager from the Windows 3.1 era – the drives are all uniform folders, and the ribbon can only operate new, paste, multiple select, and folder view. The folder operation function is also extremely simple, only supporting deletion, cutting, copying, renaming, and property viewing.

The information preview function is also relatively basic, and compared to the fully functional version of the resource manager, the information and functions displayed are not on the same order of magnitude.

Obviously, in terms of functionality, UWP is far from the full version of the resource manager, but it is not without its advantages: for basic users who do not need those multi-disciplinary functions, UWP is concise and clear, which eliminates complicated file operations, and the interface is completely in line with Fluent Design design style.

Perhaps we can see the true application of UWP Resource Manager in lightweight systems like Windows 10X next year.

Searching for more efficient alternative products
For some users who pursue ultimate efficiency, no matter how much they modify or optimize the resource manager, it is not as convenient and efficient as third-party resource managers with a reputation of over a decade – the extremely convenient shortcut keys, rich feature options, and support for extension plugins are incomparable to system resource managers.

These third-party resource managers even surpass Windows native resource managers in specific functionalities.

Tablacus Explorer: Main tab/multi window file management
The volume of Tablacus Explorer is only 528KB, and from a functional perspective, it feels like adding tab functionality to the Explorer.

In addition to managing files in a tiled tab style like traditional web browsers, we can also change the display format of multiple tabs by loading styles, such as tiling windows into a grid and maximizing computer screen space when operating folders.

In contrast, the other features of Tablacus Explorer are not outstanding. If you just want to try file management with multiple tabs, then the extremely lightweight Tablacus Explorer, which does not require installation, is still worth a try.

Total Commander: The ultimate state of third-party resource managers
The more established Total Commander completely breaks away from the scope of resource managers. It is more like a system level collection of resource management tools, providing various forms of efficient functions based on the manager interface, and many functions can be said to completely solve common pain points in resource management.

From an interface perspective, the dual window design of Total Commander is quite similar to an FTP client, but this interface is actually very suitable for managing files. Compared to native Windows resource managers, queue based file location movement is more efficient and takes up less resources; In terms of file search and filtering, Total Commander also supports the use of shortcut keys for quick filtering. For example, you can select a file in a file directory, and then use the shortcut keys to select files with the same suffix name.

Although after a period of use, you will find that the appearance of Total Commander can be described as rudimentary, and it also includes a lot of keyboard shortcut operations. This design approach is not difficult to understand, as batch operations such as file operations using a mouse can actually reduce efficiency.

Based on this design concept, you will find that Total Commander can solve many functional pain points. In addition to batch renaming mentioned above, you can also use the F3 shortcut key to enable quick media file preview, and use F4 to quickly open documents for editing

The strength of TC lies in its ability to be completely independent of some file association functions of the system, because it comes with compression management, you don’t need to install specialized compression software in the system, and file processing can be entirely based on TC; It also establishes a complete plugin system based on this, allowing you to customize file management methods according to your own file operation needs.

The functions mentioned above may only be a part of Total Commander, and this software with a history of over a decade of updates goes far beyond that. If you have a need for high efficiency, it’s also worth trying the hardcore Total Commander.

Fully utilizing its built-in features, expanding based on it, and choosing to use third-party alternatives… As a system component that we deal with every day, Windows Explorer has always had considerable potential and room for improvement. How do you use Windows Explorer and what are your unique usage tips? Welcome to share in the comments section.


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