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Viewing Files and Folders

In Windows 7, you use Windows Explorer to view the files and folders on your system. While there are numerous ways to open Windows Explorer, the easiest is to click the Windows Explorer icon on the taskbar. (Other ways to explore your files: Open the Documents, Pictures, Music, or Computer folders from the Start menu.)

As you can see in Figure 5.1, Windows Explorer displays not only individual files but also other folders—called subfolders—that that contain more files. You can perform most file-related operations by clicking the Organize button to display the Organize menu, or by right-clicking a file icon to display the context-sensitive pop-up menu.

Changing the Way Files Are Displayed

You can choose to view the contents of a folder in a variety of ways. To change the file view, click the right arrow next to the Views button at the top left of the Explorer toolbar; this displays a pull-down menu with lots of viewing options. You can then select from the available views: Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Small Icons, List, Details, Tiles, or Content. You change views—which also changes the size of the file icons—by moving the slider up and down.

Sorting Files and Folders

When viewing files in Window Explorer, you can sort your files and folders in a number of ways. To do this, right-click anywhere in the Windows Explorer window, select the Sort By option, and then choose to sort by Name, Date Modified, Type, Size, or Tags. You can also choose to sort the items in either ascending or descending order.

If you want to view your files in alphabetical order, choose to sort by Name. If you want to see all similar files grouped together, choose to sort by Type. If you want to sort your files by the date and time they were last edited, choose the Date Modified option. And if you want to sort by a user-applied file tag (assuming you’ve done this in the file’s host program), choose the Tags option.

Grouping Files and Folders

You can also configure Windows Explorer to group the files in your folder, which can make it easier to identify particular files. For example, if you sorted your files by time and date modified, they’ll now be grouped by date (Today, Yesterday, Last Week, and so on). If you sorted your files by type, they’ll be grouped by file extension, and so on.

To turn on grouping, right-click anywhere in the Windows Explorer window, select the Group By option, and then choose to group by Name, Date Modified, Type, Size, or Tags. Windows Explorer now groups your files and folders by the selected criteria.

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