Slideshow: More new features of Windows 8 File Explorer

The Computer tab displays commands for the tasks that you are likely to perform in Computer

This gallery is also available as a post in the Windows and Office Blog.

In Part I of this series, I began examining some of the new features in Windows 8's File Explorer. As I did, I primarily focused on the Ribbon's three Core tabs titled Home, Share, and View. As I mentioned, the Ribbon also provides you with a set of contextual tabs, which appear based on the location or type of object that you have selected in File Explorer, and then provide you with groups of appropriate commands. Along with the all of the commands on the core tabs, this system of contextual tabs is designed to expose close to 200 different file management commands in File Explorer without having them buried in numerous nested menus, popups, dialog boxes, or right-click context menus.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I will continue my in-depth look at Windows 8's File Explorer by exploring the contextual tabs on the new Ribbon.

What is a Contextual tab?

As I mentioned, the Ribbon system with its tabs is designed to expose close to 200 different file management commands in File Explorer. One of the ways that the Ribbon system accomplishes this feat is by using contextual tabs, which only appear when you select a specific location, such as Computer or Network, or select a specific object, such as an image file or drive. When one of these objects is selected, the appropriate contextual tab will then display commands related to that object.

For example, when you select an image file, you'll see a tab that contains commands such as Rotate and Set as background. When you select drive, you'll see a tab that contains command such as Optimize and Format.

In this way, contextual tabs essentially display the commands that you need only when you need them. Let's take a closer look.


Let's begin with Computer. When you select Computer in File Explorer's Navigation pane, the File menu and two tabs titled Computer and View will appear in the Ribbon. The File menu and the View tab contain the same commands as I showed you last week; however, the Computer tab contains a set of commands for the tasks that you typically perform in Computer. For instance, when you select a drive letter, a contextual tab titled Disk Tools Drive appears.

Computer tab

As you can see in Figure A, the Computer tab contains three groups: Location, Network, and System. The Location group contains three commands:

  • Properties displays a standard drive Properties dialog box,
  • Open simply opens the drive, and
  • The Rename command allows you to rename the selected object.

Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.