Slideshow: The new features of Windows 8 File Explorer

The Up button reappears in File Explorer

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

As you probably know by now, one of the many changes in Microsoft Windows 8 includes an updated version of Windows Explorer that has been rechristened as File Explorer. In addition to its new name, the file management tool has been given a slightly new user interface that features a Ribbon toolbar instead of a traditional drop down menu system.

However, while the Ribbon is the most prominent new feature in File Explorer, the basic functionality of Windows Explorer remains virtually unchanged - there is still a Tree pane on the left and File pane on the right. There are also a host of other new features sprinkled throughout the new File Explorer that add great functionality to all the typical file management operations you are likely to perform.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I will introduce you to the Windows 8's new File Explorer. As I do, I'll only touch on some of the main features - there are just too many new features to cover everything in one blog. I'll continue with additional details next week in Part II.

Popularity poll

To begin with, I know that the Ribbon is not the most popular interface feature that Microsoft has added to their products. In fact, I must admit that when I first encountered the Ribbon in Office 2007 I was disconcerted by what I initially thought would be a big learning curve, but once I adapted to the Ribbon, I found that I really liked it.

In fact, I've found that I've become very adept at using the File Explorer's Ribbon and have come to depend on it - so much so that whenever I go back to a Windows 7 or Windows XP system I find myself struggling with the old Windows Explorer interface. Of course, I remember when I first began using the new Ribbon interface it took me a while to adapt and I know that you will too. However, I can say with confidence that once you get used to it, you'll wonder how you ever got along without its feature set.

To the naysayers, I have to point out that it appears that the Ribbon is gaining momentum and not going away, so you really need to stop grumbling so much and embrace the advantages that it brings to the table. Really, once you learn your way around a Ribbon, you'll definitely come to appreciate its design. This is especially true with the new Ribbon in Windows 8's File Explorer - it's truly a much more efficient navigational system.

The return of the Up button

The first new feature in File Explorer that I want to talk about is really an old feature. Of course, I'm referring to the Up button.

As you may remember, one of the mistakes that the Windows Vista developers made was to remove the Up button from Windows Explorer. While a lot of users complained about the missing Up button, it remained MIA in Windows 7. However, in Windows 8 the developers heard our complaints and put the Up button back in File Explorer. As you can see in Figure A, the Up button appears right next to the Back and Forward buttons just like it did in Windows XP.

Just click the Up button and File Explorer will display the parent folder. You can also still use the breadcrumb if you want.

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.