Five tips for taking control of Windows Explorer

A few simple tweaks can make Windows Explorer more compatible with your working style and save you time down the road.

1: Customize the [Windows]+E key shortcut to open what you want

You can reprogram the [Windows]+E key shortcut so that it launches Windows Explorer on the folder of your choice. The free AutoHotkey utility makes it easy to perform this handy tweak.

2: Add a Create New Folder icon to the Windows XP Quick Launch toolbar

If you create new folders fairly often, you may have wished Windows XP offered a button to speed the task. This simple tip shows how to add one yourself.

3: Display image thumbnails in Windows Explorer folders

When you're dealing with a Windows folder containing numerous images, it's helpful to see them represented as thumbnails in Windows Explorer. Learn how to use the built-in functionality offered by Windows XP and Vista to turn this display off and on.

4: Video: Tweak Windows Explorer to open in a specific directory

If you use Windows Explorer to manipulate files in Windows XP or Vista, you might be tired of the way it opens My Documents by default. In this episode of IT Dojo, Bill Detwiler demonstrates a simple way to make Windows Explorer open in any directory you choose.

5: Add Copy To and Move To commands to Windows Explorer with this registry hack

In Windows XP, the right-click context menu in Windows Explorer contains an entry for the Send To command but not for Copy To or Move To. Here's a look at how you can add that functionality to the Windows Explorer right-click menu by editing the registry.

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Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.


Windows Explorer is an "obese" part of Windows. Slow, clumsy, resource hungry, and sometimes stupid. Total Commander is the way to go if you want serious productivity. For more than 10 years, my TC configuration has been always kept, no matter how many times I reinstall my OS or which version of Windows I use.


was one provided by Greg Shultz in May 2006. It was 'Create a date-based folder' from the Windows Explorer context menu. I use it with Matthew_bennet1's modification (first post in the discussion). It is real handy for backups. I use the form yy-mm-dd so when Windows sorts the directory the dates are in order. I don't know if this will work in Vista or 7. Barry


I've had a very frustrating time trying to get Windows Explorer in Windows 7 to operate in a sensible way. I do virtually everything from Explorer, often having 2 or 3 copies open on different directories at once. And showing the logical folder structure is essential. However, W7 won't allow a second window to open unless one right-clicks first. And setting default directories to open is a nightmare.

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