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Windows 7 tricks: 20 top tips and tweaks

November 11, 2009 06:00 AM ET

Windows Explorer tips

Windows Explorer is the heart and soul of the Windows interface, and overall it works quite well. But you can make it better.

new  Use check boxes to select multiple files

Selecting multiple files using your mouse and check boxes
Selecting multiple files using your mouse and check boxes.
Click to view larger image.

In order to select multiple files for an operation such as copying, moving or deleting in Windows Explorer, you generally use the keyboard and the mouse, Ctrl-clicking every file you want to select.

But if you're mouse-centric, there's a way to select multiple files in Windows 7 using only your mouse, via check boxes. To do it:

1. In Windows Explorer, click Organize, and then select "Folder and search options."

2. Click the View tab.

3. In Advanced Settings, scroll down and check the box next to "Use check boxes to select items." Click OK.

4. From now on, when you hover your mouse over a file in Windows Explorer, a check box will appear next to it; click it to select the file. Once a file is selected, the checked box remains next to it; if you uncheck it, the box will disappear when you move your mouse away.

new  Open a command prompt at any folder

Command prompt fans will welcome this tip. With it, when you're in Windows Explorer, you can open a command prompt to any folder. This tip does exactly what the Windows XP PowerToy "Open Command Window Here" does.

To use it, hold down the Shift key and right-click a folder, then choose "Open command window here" from the context menu that appears. (Note that this tip doesn't work in the Documents folder.)

Protect the privacy of your Explorer searches

Note: This tip relies on the Group Policy Editor, which isn't available in some versions of Windows 7. Thus, this tip will not work if you have the Home Premium, Starter, or Home Basic editions of Windows 7.

Protecting search privacy
Select "Enabled" to protect search privacy.
Click to view larger image.

When you search through your PC from Windows Explorer, you can see the most recent searches that have been performed. If you share a PC and don't want others to see what you've searched for, you can turn off the recent searches feature:

1. In the Start menu's Search box, type GPEDIT.MSC and press Enter to launch the Group Policy Editor.

2. Go to User Configuration --> Administrative Templates --> Windows Components --> Windows Explorer.

3. Double-click "Turn off display of recent search entries in the Windows Explorer search box" and select Enabled from the screen that appears. Then click OK. The recent searches feature will now be turned off.



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