Unit 4.  WindowsXP Explorer (I)

The Explorer is an indespensible tool in an operating system, since with it we can organize and control the files and folders of the different storage systems at our disposal such as the hard drive, disk drive, etc.

The Windows Expolrer is also known as the File Manager. Through it we can delete, see, copy, or move files and folders.

We suggest you pay particular attention to this unit because of its great importance.

Starting the Explorer


The quickest way to start up the Explorer is through the icon on the task bar or desktop. If you don't already have the icon created, you can open the Explorer as follows:

Click on Start

Select All programs

Select Accesories

Select Windows Explorer

The Explorer can also be started from the Start button by choosing My documents, My images or My music; the difference is that in these cases we will go directly to those folders.

The Windows Explorer´s window


This window is similar to the one you can find as you open your Windows explorer. It is possible that it may differ slightly in appearance since we can customize it to our liking.

The explorer consists basically of two sections. On the left side there is the directory tree, which is the list of units and folders that we have. Only units and folders appear, no files. On this image we can see a few folders such as My Documents, aulaclic, ... the My Computer icon, My Network Places and the Recycle Bin.

If you would like to review basic concepts about files, folders, and units take a look at our basic

On the right side there is another section, which will show the content of the folder that we have opened on the left section. This section shows its folders and files. In this case the files that are contained in the folder Winxp appear. Depending on the type of view that we have activated we will see different type of information regarding the files. On this example we see the name, size, type, and date of last modification on each file because we have the view Details activated. Later we will learn how to change the view.

Next we will explain the different bars that make up this window.

Like in any window, we have the title bar that shows the name of the folder we are in.

The menu bar contains the menus that will allow us access to all the operations that can be done with a file or folder. By clicking on each menu the cptions will be displayed.

The standard bar contains the buttons for the most used operations.

If this bar is not visible select from the menu View, the option Toolbars, next select the option Standard buttons.

The Back button will allow us to go to the last page that we have seen. The button next to it, when activated, allows us to move one page forward.

The up button will allow us to go up one level, which means going back to the folder that contains the folder we are working with.

The search button displays a window where we can search for the file we want.

The folders button shows the folder's structure on the left side of the screen, or it can display an area with the most frequent tasks, depending on the file we have selected. In this area we can find, among others, the following buttons:

The last button allows us to change the views on the folders (view details, Thumbnails,...) We'll explain this in more detailed on the next page.

The Address Bar is well known for Internet because it shows the address of the web we are viewing. With Windows Explorer it functions the same way, but it shows the name of the folder we are working with.

If we click on the black arrow it will show the structure with our computer's drives.

If we write a name in the address bar and we click on the green arrow, it will search for this name.


The Status Bar shows additional information on the elements we have selected. This is an optional bar. In order to activate it, go to the View menu and click on Status Bar.

On the Status bar below we can see the number of files the folder contains and the total size of them (in KB, 1MB is 1024KB). If we select some files, the status bar will display the information of selected objects and their total size. This is a very useful bar because we are able to know very quickly if the selected files would fit on a floppy disk (a floppy disk is 1.44Mb, approximately 1474Kb).

If you only select one file it will show the information on what kind of file it is, if you select a folder or a drive it will show the number of objects (files or folders) it contains and how much free space it has left.


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