In the great divide between those who like Windows 8 and those who don’t, I confess I fall into the latter category.
But I do like the operating system’s File Explorer — it’s one piece of Win8 that really is an improvement on earlier versions.
File management: An essential part of any OS
Every operating system (except Apple’s iOS) provides some form of file manager — a tool that lets users copy, move, view, launch, rename, delete, and undelete files. Microsoft’s file-handling tools have evolved and improved considerably since Version 1 — the DOS prompt.
Windows 8’s file manager — File Explorer — is definitely the best yet. Even the new name is an improvement. Since 1995, we’ve called Windows’ file-management utility “Windows Explorer” — a label that doesn’t reflect the app’s true function. Every time I mentioned Windows Explorer in an article, I wondered whether I had to explain exactly what I was talking about.
In capability, there’s little new in File Explorer. Anything you can do with File Explorer you can also accomplish in Win7’s Windows Explorer. But File Explorer makes doing file-management tasks a whole lot easier. You might, for example, think its process for copying or moving a file to another folder is something new. But in fact, it simply puts those tasks in plain sight.
Here are some of the new file manager’s improvements, with suggestions about how best to use them.
Launching File Explorer without a Start button
File Explorer runs on the Windows 8 Desktop like an old-fashioned Windows program. You can launch it from the tile-based user interface that everyone still calls Metro (despite Microsoft’s attempt to rebrand it). But when you do, the program still opens in the Desktop. Even in Windows RT, where old-fashioned Windows programs can’t run at all, File Explorer looks like a familiar Windows program and runs on the Desktop.