Microsoft made several basic file-management enhancements in Windows 7. Although some are fairly obvious, others can be a bit tricky to find and harness. Once you get used to using them, though, you’ll find them pretty handy.

Note: These tips are based on an entry in our Microsoft Windows blog.

1: Use the New Folder and Preview Pane buttons

While the New Folder button is not the most exciting new feature in Windows Explorer, it is something that I have been pining for a long time. I don’t know why it has taken Microsoft so long to put this button where it has always belonged, but it did. In Windows 7, you’ll find the New Folder button on the Windows Explorer toolbar. Just click it and a new folder appears! On the right side of the toolbar, you’ll see the Preview Pane button, which allows you to quickly and easily toggle the Preview Pane.

2: Create a simulated dual-pane file manager

Back in the DOS days, I lived and breathed Norton Commander. With its dual-pane interface, copying files from one folder or drive to another was a breeze. I’ve always wished that Windows Explorer had a similar feature. Now, thanks to Aero Snap, you can create a dual-pane file-manager simulation with four simple keystrokes:

  • [Windows]+E
  • [Windows]+[Left Arrow]
  • [Windows]+E
  • [Windows]+[Right Arrow]

You don’t even have to let up on the [Windows] key. In fact, I press and hold down the [Windows] key and then press E, [Left Arrow], E, [Right Arrow]. Once you have the two windows open, you can easily copy files from one folder or drive to another.

3: Customize the target in Windows Explorer

When you launch Windows Explorer from the Start menu in Windows 7, the default target is the Libraries folder. If you would prefer to have Windows Explorer open Computer, all you have to do is change the target.

  1. Press [Windows] and Type windows explorer in the Search box
  2. Right-click the first result
  3. Select the Properties command.
  4. In the Windows Explorer Properties dialog box, type the following command in the Target text box  and click OK:
%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /root,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}

4: Expand your navigation pane

By default, Windows Explorer displays five sections in the navigation pane: Favorites, Libraries, Homegroup, Computer, and Network. While this makes the navigation pane a straightforward tool, you may want to have easy access to other locations. To expand the number of items in the navigation pane, pull down the Organize menu and select the Folder And Search Options command. In the Folder Options dialog box, select the Show All Folders check box and click OK.

5: Track multimedia in Content View

A new setting in Windows 7 called Content View makes it easier to keep track of multimedia files — pictures, videos, music/MP3s. Content View displays one item per line with information about that item, such as date modified, size, author, and type.

Check out Five Tips… the newsletter

Get a concise roundup of solutions and techniques that will make your IT job go more smoothly. TechRepublic’s Five Tips newsletter, delivered every Tuesday, gives you instant access to the information you need. Automatically sign up today.