Quick Tip: Select files in Windows Explorer with check boxes

With one little tweak, you can change the behavior of Microsoft Windows Explorer to allow multiple file selection with check boxes.

In previous TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog posts we have presented several Windows Explorer tweaks that make the tool more efficient and, in some cases, just plain less frustrating. But there is one tweak we have yet to mention — the ability to select multiple files with check boxes.

While you can select multiple files in Windows Explorer by holding down the CTRL key for each mouse click, that is a two-handed procedure. However, with the check box feature turned on, you can select multiple files with one mouse-equipped hand. To turn on this feature, you will have to change a setting in the Folder and Search Options of Windows Explorer.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Gallery and TechRepublic download and was originally published in August 2010.

Change options

Open a session of Windows Explorer in a folder with numerous files, like the one shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Open Windows Explorer.
Click the Organize tab on the top menu and navigate to the Folder and Search Options menu item, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Navigate to the Folder and Search Options menu item.
When you get to the Folder Options screen, click on the View tab (Figure C). Notice some the changes we made to Windows Explorer before, such as showing hidden files and system files — two of my favorites.

Figure C

Click the View tab.
Scroll down the list of options and find the Use Check Boxes to Select Items entry in the list (Figure D) and check the box to activate the feature. Click OK to put it into effect.

Figure D

Check the Use Check Boxes to Select Items entry.
Now when you go back to the Windows Explorer window, you will see check boxes next to each file in the folder (Figure E). You will also see a check box that will check all the files in the folder.

Figure E

Now we have check boxes.
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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.

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