Quick Tip: Two features in Windows 8.1 File Explorer you want to know about

The Windows 8 File Explorer has several features, which makes manipulating files a much more efficient experience.

While many, rightly or wrongly, continue to dismiss Microsoft Windows 8 as a failed operating system, some users, like me, continue to find little features which make the operating system more palatable than you might want to believe. The Windows 8 File Explorer for example, has several features that are either new or just newly made obvious, which makes manipulating files a much more efficient experience.

Invert selection and click boxes

I like having click boxes next to files when I am using File Explorer, but that feature is off by default, as you can see in Figure A.

Figure A


No check boxes

In Windows 7, you would have to navigate to the Tools tab and then the Folder Options screen and then find the check box that would turn on check boxes. In Windows 8, the check box feature is an item on the ribbon under the View tab, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B


Just click the box to turn on Item check boxes

Now that we have check boxes enabled, when can highlight and mark specific files for copying or pasting or whatever. In Figure C, I have marked a few files recently downloaded for my test machine.

Figure C


Ready to do some file manipulation

Again, while this next feature for inverting the selected files was available in Windows 7, it was hidden under a not very intuitive tab. In Windows 8, the invert selection feature is right there in the ribbon under the Home tab, as you can see in Figure D.

Figure D


The invert selection is right there on the Home tab ribbon

All one has to do is click the feature and your file selections are inverted. (Figure E)

Figure E


The original selection is inverted

Give the Ribbon a chance

Both of these features are more obvious and available because of the presence of the "dreaded" ribbon interface in Windows 8 File Explorer. While the ribbon interface does take some getting used to, there are definitely some benefits to its presence.


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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