Windows

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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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

19 comments
CaptainGoodnight
CaptainGoodnight

I have been using single-click interface for many years and one that this interface has annoyed me was that files can be selected automatically if mouse cursor hovers over them unless you do some registry tweak. With check-boxes for selecting files, this is no longer an issue in Windows 7. Too bad this option is not available for Windows XP which is what I use at work.

skipper747
skipper747

If a tip, like this one, only works in a particular version of Windows please say so in the title. So this should be: "Select files in Windows 7 Explorer with checkboxes." Shame it would be nice to have had it in XP.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Have you got a favorite Windows 7 tweak you'd like to share with your peers - something to make our lives easier?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

... but it is available in both Vista and Windows 7 - it would make the title too long.

skylog
skylog

Agree - after spending 10 minutes following this up I realized it doesn't apply to XP. Wasted time

marikavs
marikavs

I think I saw somewhere that there is some download for XP whereby one could use 7 settings. Does somebody/anybody remember where and what that was? It could come in handy for tips like this, and in general I suspect.

ebloch
ebloch

Only problem is that then cannot select a range of files by shift-clicking. One must select each file individually.

WebCzar
WebCzar

It's interesting to see both the author and a few posters defending a poorly written title based on poor assumptions. Many of us are probably clicking from the email link. The number of XP users seems to be in the majority. Contrary to the claim that there are 'tags' indicating the OS versions, we just didn't see it... which means the page template itself is in need of a tweak. BTW, who said you can't shorten 'Vista and Windows 7' down to "Vista/Win7" ? Get real.

Realvdude
Realvdude

In this day and age, I usually look to see what OS an article applies to. My wife is going to love this.

Full Tao-er
Full Tao-er

At the top of each article are categories and tags that help define the scope of the article. This one is in the "Windows 7" category.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The other ways to select files still remain - Shift-click and CTRL-click all work. But with the checkboxes you can also make selections with one hand. The feature is additive.

lgberry
lgberry

Shift-clicking works as before.

dogknees
dogknees

.. you can clearly see it's a Windows 7 tip. Where's the problem?

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

there's no excuse here I'm using win2K and XP and can clearly see that the titlebar theme, buttons etc. in the screen shots are from a win7 box

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