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The Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar inside File Explorer in Windows 8

There are so many new features introduced in Windows 8; I wouldn't even know where to begin. Microsoft even renamed Windows Explorer to File Explorer. But they didn't add any truly 'new' features to File Explorer. They brought in some elements from older programs and versions. Let's take a look at the Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar inside the Windows 8 File Explorer.

The Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar locations in Windows 8 File Explorer
The Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar locations in Windows 8 File Explorer

The Ribbon first appeared in Office 2007, and over the past few years, other software companies have adopted the Ribbon. The Ribbon is meant to optimize file management by exposing over 200 top-level features previously hidden in right-click context menus. The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) first appeared in the Windows XP version of Windows Explorer.

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The Quick Access Toolbar in Windows 8 and Windows XP

Some of the Ribbon features are:

  • Every command in the ribbon is given a keyboard shortcut. Press Alt to reveal them.
  • You can pin your favorite commands to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).
  • The Ribbon is collapsible to maximize vertical screen space. Even with the ribbon visible, more vertical screen space is provided in the default configuration than Windows Explorer in Windows 7.
  • The Ribbon is minimized by default.
  • File menu includes options for things like opening a Command Prompt as an administrator, opening a new File Explorer window, and accessing the folder and search options.
  • The Ribbon contains three primary tabs: Home, Share, and View, plus a File menu and various contextual tabs.
  • Contextual tabs are shown when selecting certain areas or file types in File Explorer.

Standard Ribbon Tabs (shown at all times)

Tab name Command Group(s)
File Open new window, Open command prompt, Open Windows Powershell, Delete history, Help, Close
Home Clipboard, Organize, New, Open, Select
Share Send, Share with, Advanced security
View Panes, Layout, Current view, Show/hide, Options

Contextual Ribbon Tabs (shown when selecting certain areas or file types)

Tab name Command Group(s)
Library Tools Manage, Restore settings
Music Tools Play
Picture Tools Rotate, View
Video Tools Play
Drive Tools Protect (Enterprise only), Manage, Media
Search Tools Location, Refine, Options, Close search
Compressed Folder Tools Extract To, Extract all
Application Tools Pin to taskbar, Run
Recycle Bin Tools Manage, Restore

Working with Libraries in Windows 8

When I'm working on my computer, the one thing I hate having to do is navigating File Explorer to get to a folder. Windows 8 has a handy feature built-in called Libraries. With Libraries, I can get to my documents, music, pictures, videos, and frequently used folders with just a couple of clicks. Here's how to work with Libraries inside of Windows 8.

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View of Libraries inside of Windows 8 File Explorer

What is a library?

Libraries are collections where you can get to all your documents, music, pictures, and other files in one single place. In some ways, a library works like a folder: you can use it to browse and sort files. But unlike a folder, a library gathers files that are stored in several locations. This is a subtle but significant difference. Libraries don't hold your items. They pull from folders that contain your items and let you open and arrange the items in different ways. For example, if you have music files in folders on your PC and an external drive, you can get all of your music files from the Music library.

There are four default libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos), but you can create new libraries for other collections. You can also add and remove folders from libraries. Libraries can include up to 50 folders.

What folder locations are supported in libraries?

You can include folders in a library from many different locations, such as your C drive, an external drive, or a network. Only folders can be included in libraries. Individual files and other items can't be included.

How to create a new library

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charms bar and then tap or left-click Search.
  2. Enter File Explorer in the search box, and then tap or left-click Apps. Tap or left-click File Explorer in the search results
    or
    Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  3. Tap or left-click Libraries.
  4. Tap or left-click the Home tab, tap or left-click New item, and then choose Library.
  5. Enter a name for the library, and then press Enter.

How to add a folder to a library

If the folder you want to add is on an external hard drive, make sure the drive is connected to your PC and that you can open it.

  1. If you're viewing the New Library page in File Explorer, tap or left-click Include a folder, select the folder, and then tap or left-click Include folder.

If you don't have the New Library page open, continue following these steps.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charms bar and then tap or left-click Search.
  2. Enter File Explorer in the search box, and then tap or left-click Apps. Tap or left-click File Explorer in the search results
    or
    Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  3. Expand the location to find the folder you want to add, and then select it. (For example, if you're going to add a folder from a network, expand the network location and select the folder.)
  4. Tap or left-click the Home tab, tap or left-click Easy access, choose Include in library, and then select the library to which you want to add the folder.

Notes:

  • If you don't see the Include in library option for a network folder, it means the folder isn't indexed. Follow the steps below to add the folder to a library.
  • Folders on removable media (such as CDs and DVDs), network-attached storage (NAS) devices, and some USB flash drives can't be included in a library.

How to add a network folder that isn't indexed to a library

If your PC is running Windows 8 Pro or Windows 8 Enterprise, the easiest way to do this is to make the folder available offline and then add the offline folder to a library by following the steps above.

If you don't want to make the folder available offline because you don't want to keep the folder contents on your PC, go to the PC where the network folder is located, and make sure the folder is in an indexed location. If it isn't, add the folder to the indexed locations or move the folder to an indexed location.

If neither of these options works for you, follow these steps to add the folder to a library. Note that doing this will make searching, sorting, and filtering in the whole library slow. For best results, we recommend creating a new library for the network folder alone.

How to add a network folder that is not indexed to a Library in Windows 8

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charms bar and then tap or left-click Search.
  2. Enter File Explorer in the search box, and then tap or left-click Apps. Tap or left-click File Explorer in the search results
    or
    Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  3. Tap or left-click Computer and create a folder on your drive for your network folders, for example, c:\share.
  4. Create another folder within that folder, for example, c:\share\music.
  5. Select the subfolder you just created, tap or left-click the Home tab, tap or left-click Easy access, choose Include in library, and then select the library to which you want to add the folder.
  6. Delete the folder.
  7. Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges (click here for complete instructions)
  8. Enter mklink /d, and then enter the path of the folder you just deleted and the path of the network folder. For example, mklink /d c:\share\music \\server\music. If either of the folder names has spaces, encase the path(s) inside of quotes. For example, mklink /d "c:\shared files\music" "\\server\shared music". This creates what is called a symbolic link.

How to remove a folder from a library

If you don’t need a folder in a library anymore, you can remove it from the library. When you remove a folder from a library, the folder and everything in it is still kept in its original location.

  1. Enter File Explorer in the search box, and then tap or left-click Apps. Tap or left-click File Explorer in the search results
    or
    Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Select the library where you want to remove a folder.
  3. Tap or left-click the Library Tools tab, and then tap or left-click Manage library.
  4. In the dialog box that appears, select the folder you want to remove, tap or left-click Remove, and then tap or left-click OK.

Left hand keyboard shortcuts for Windows 8

A while back, I wrote an article on left-hand keyboard shortcuts for Windows. I like to use them, so I don't have to take my right hand off the mouse. With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft added in more shortcuts, primarily for the Start screen. So here is a list of Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts for just your left hand.

The desktop and laptop versions of the Windows 8 Power User command menu
The desktop and laptop versions of the Windows 8 Power User command menu

Left-hand keyboard shortcuts for Windows 8

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Press To

Windows shortcuts

Windows logo key Show the Start screen. If you have the Desktop running, you can also use this key to toggle back and forth between the Start screen and the Desktop.
Windows logo key + D Show just the Desktop (all running applications will be minimized). You can also use this combo to start the Desktop.
Windows logo key + E Start a new instance of Windows Explorer / File Explorer.
Windows logo key + C Open the Charms bar. When you open the Charms bar inside of a Windows RT app and select Settings, it displays the options for that app.
Windows logo key + F Open Files in the Search charm.
Windows logo key + Q Open Apps in the Search charm.
Windows logo key + W Open Settings in the Search charm.
Windows logo key + X Open the Power User command menu. There are over a dozen different apps you can run from this menu.
ALT + TAB Switch between open apps using Task Switcher.

Application shortcuts

CTRL + A Select all
CTRL + C Copy
CTRL + S Save
CTRL + V Paste
CTRL + X Cut
CTRL + Y Redo
CTRL + Z Undo

Check out these related articles:

A complete list of Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts

General Windows keyboard shortcuts

How to organize the Start screen in Windows 8

Being organized is a necessity when you are an IT consultant. You have to know where things are, so when you need them, you can find them. The same is true for the Windows 8 Start screen. If you can't find it, you can't use it. So here's how to organize the Start screen in Windows 8.

Here's a video on how to organize the tiles on the Windows 8 Start screen. The complete instructions are below.

How to pin tiles to the Start screen in Windows 8

Windows 8 Start screen with tiles and groups organized
Windows 8 Start screen with tiles and groups organized

Using a mouse

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Right-click the Start screen background to bring up the app commands.
  3. Select All apps.
  4. Scroll to and right-click the app tile you want to pin to the Start screen.
  5. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, left-click Pin to Start.

Using a keyboard

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Z to open the app commands.
  3. Press Enter to select All apps.
  4. Use the arrow keys to navigate to the app tile you want to pin to the Start screen.
  5. Press the Application key Application key to bring up the app commands.
  6. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, use the arrow keys to navigate to Pin to Start and press Enter.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the Start menu to bring up the app commands.
  3. Select All apps.
  4. Scroll to the app tile you want to pin to the Start screen and press and hold it to bring up the app commands.
  5. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, tap Pin to Start.

How to unpin tiles from the Start screen in Windows 8

Using a mouse

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Scroll to and right-click the app tile you want to unpin from the Start screen.
  3. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, left-click Unpin from Start.

Using a keyboard

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Use the arrow keys to navigate to the app tile you want to unpin from the Start screen.
  3. Press the Application key Application key to bring up the app commands.
  4. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, use the arrow keys to navigate to Unpin from Start and press Enter.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Scroll to the app tile you want to unpin from the Start screen and press and hold it to bring up the app commands.
  3. On the app command bar at the bottom of the screen, tap Unpin from Start.

Moving tiles on the start screen in Windows 8

Using a mouse

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Click and hold the left mouse button on the tile you want to move and drag it to the location you want.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Press and hold the tile you want to move and drag it to the location you want.

Move groups on the start screen in Windows 8

Windows 8 Start screen zoomed out with tiles and groups organized
Windows 8 Start screen zoomed out with tiles and groups organized

Using a mouse/keyboard

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Hold down the Control key (CTRL) on the keyboard while using the mouse wheel and zoom out to view all of the Start screen groups.
  3. Press and hold the left mouse button on the group you want to move and drag it to the location you want.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Pinch two fingers on the screen and zoom out to view all of the Start screen groups.
  3. Press the group you want to move and drag it to the location you want.

Rename groups on the start screen in Windows 8

Using a mouse/keyboard

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Hold down the Control key (CTRL) on the keyboard while using the mouse wheel and zoom out to view all of the Start screen groups.
  3. Right-click on the group you want to rename and select Name group from the app command bar.

Using touch

  1. Go to the Start screen.
  2. Pinch two fingers on the screen and zoom out to view all of the Start screen groups.
  3. Press and hold the group you want to rename and select Name group from the app command bar.

Other related articles:

How to create a shortcut on the Desktop and Start menu in Windows 8

How to create log-off restart and shutdown shortcuts on the Start screen in Windows 8

Perform advanced disk defragmentation with Defraggler from Piriform

Have you ever opened a filing cabinet just to find the folders just scattered around? The files are all over the place, and you cannot find what you're looking for. The same thing can happen to the folders/files on your Windows based computer. Windows does come with a disk defrag program, but its options are minimal. If you're looking for something more in a disk defrag program, check out Defraggler by Piriform.

Drive view inside of Defraggler
Drive view inside of Defraggler

With Defraggler, you can do much more than just defragment your hard drive. You can do a quick or full defrag, defrag only free space, and my favorite, boot-time defrag. And it uses the same technology as Windows built-in defragmenter to read and write files. You can even have the option to replace the Windows built-in defrag program with Defraggler.

Block detail view inside of Defraggler
Block detail view inside of Defraggler

Defraggler also has something that has been missing from Windows built-in defragmenter for years, a drive map showing the status of files on your hard drive. And what is cool is that you can left-click on a block, and Defraggler will tell you what file(s) are located in it. And best of all, it's free. Here's a quote from the Piriform website:

Defragment exactly what you want
Most defrag tools only allow you to defrag an entire drive. Defraggler lets you specify one or more files, folders, or the whole drive to defragment.

Safe and Secure
When Defraggler reads or writes a file, it uses the exact same techniques that Windows uses. Using Defraggler is just as safe for your files as using Windows.

Compact and portable
Defraggler's tough on your files – and light on your system.

Interactive drive map
At a glance, you can see how fragmented your hard drive is. Defraggler's drive map shows you blocks that are empty, not fragmented, or needing defragmentation.

Quick Defrag
Give your hard drive a quick touch-up with Quick Defrag.

Defragment free space
Organizes empty disk space to further prevent fragmentation.

Scheduled defragmentation
Defragment while you sleep - and wake up with a faster PC. Set Defraggler to run daily, weekly or monthly.

Multi-lingual support
No matter what your native tongue is, Defraggler speaks your language. It currently supports 37 languages.

For more information on Defraggler, just follow the link below:

Defraggler - File and Disk Defragmentation

Free computer diagnostics

Repairing a PC can sometimes be expensive, and that is why we offer free basic in-shop diagnostics. Give one of our professional and experienced technicians a call at (602) 795-1111, and let's see what we can do for you.

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