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An Improved Windows Explorer November 15, 2001
Filmstrip View
Filmstrip View
Thumbnails View
Thumbnails View
Tiles View
Tiles View
Icons View
Icons View
Details View
Details View
All views shown with Tasks sidebar
note: clicking an image will get you the full size version.

Not since the introduction of Windows Explorer with Windows 95 has this lowly utility been updated. Though lowly by Microsoft's standards -- it doesn't generate any profits for Microsoft therefore not worth much attention -- it is probably the most important utility in any version the Windows OS. It doesn't matter what operating system you're using you will always need a program like Explorer. 

New Views and More

Two new views were added: Filmstrip and Thumbnail, and a third, Tiles, was renamed and beefed up. The Explorer sidebar now includes a Tasks sidebar. This sidebar is the default unless you disable it. Many new details have been added. No longer is name, type, modified, size, and attributes the only details available. Group renaming is now available. The new Open With command gives you greater flexibility opening files.

The Views

Thumbnails view displays the images a folder contains on a folder icon so you can quickly identify the contents of the folder. For example, if you store pictures in several different folders, in Thumbnail view, you can tell at a glance which folder contains the pictures you want.

The Filmstrip view will only work with pictures. Your pictures will appear as a single row of thumbnail images. You can scroll through your pictures using the left and right arrow buttons. If you click a picture, it is displayed as a larger image above the other pictures. To edit, or save the image to another, double-click the picture.

The Tiles view is the Large Icons view from previous versions of Explorer. Using the tiles view means that detail data will be displays beside or below the Tiles.

The remaining views, Details, Icons, and List, are unchanged from previous versions of Explorer.

Details Everywhere

File Details Pop-up
Details Pop-up
Choose Details
Choose Details

Unlike previous versions of Explorer you now view details of a file in all views. If no details are present, like Icons view, the details can still be viewed by holding your pointer over a file in question  and in a short moment the file's details will popup.

Expanded Details Available

With previous versions of Explorer there were only four details available. With the Windows XP Explorer many more are available. If you're using Microsoft applications exclusively then you'll love all the new details for your viewing pleasure. To select details go to View -> Choose Details. Then just check the details you require. Note: Changes affect the current folder only.

Show in Groups

Grouping allows you to collect files by any detail of the file, such as name, size, type, or date modified. Show in Groups is available in the Thumbnails, Tiles, Icons, and Details views. To enable Grouping go to View -> Show in Groups.

Tasks Sidebar

Show In Groups
Show in Groups
Tasks Bar
Tasks Bar

Folder Options

There is a new Explorer Bar (sidebar) called Tasks. This Taskbar has three basic task: File and Folder Tasks, Other Places Tasks, and Details Tasks. There is another task that only appears if a folder is dominated by certain type of files or you have certain equipment. This Special Tasks will show-up for folders dominated by picture or music files.

To enable the Taskbar go to View->Explorer and select Tasks.

Disable Tasks view: Tasks view is the default sidebar. Therefore if no other sidebar (Explorer views) is selected then the Tasks view will be present. If you do not want the Tasks view to show then go to Tools->Folder Options and from the General tab select Use Windows classic folders. The Tasks sidebar will no longer appear at any time including whenever you open the Control Panel. The Control Panel will revert to the Windows Classic style if you decide to use Use Windows classic folders.

Renaming a Group of Files

In past versions of Windows you could Move, Delete, and Copy many files at once by selecting a group of files and performing the move, copy, or delete. But you couldn't rename a group of files. Now you can. Simply select the files you want to rename. Then rename one of the files. The remaining files will have the same name followed by (X). The X is a number. The first file will be (0) the second, (1), etc. 

The only glitch is that the first file to get (0) will be the second file in the select list of files. So if you rename the first file my vacation pictures the second file will be my vacation pictures(0). Oh well, it's better than nothing. Since this is version 2 of renaming then version 3 will be a hit!

Open With

In previous versions of Explorer you could only open a file with the default application. Well what happens when suddenly a newly installed program starts to open a file type. No longer can you use your favorite tool to view or edit your pictures. What to do?
Open With . . .
Open With

With Windows XP Explorer you can use the Open With command to use a different application other than the default one. Now when a rogue program installs and places itself as the default program for specific file type you can use Open With -> Choose Program ... to find the program you wish to use to open a file or assign a different program as the default program.

The Open With command can be found at the File menu and by right-clicking your mouse.

Still More Needs To Be Done

Why can't you move the Explorer Bar or Sidebar to the right of the File List? Why can't you have more than one Explorer Bar enabled? Such as the Folders and Tasks bars. 

While I'm at it -- why can't the vertical scroll-bar be moved to the left. You can reverse the mouse buttons why not the scroll bar? Does the Start button have to be on the left? Why can't it be moved to the right?

I know, I know, no money in it! Where's the profit? There is nothing gained other than customer satisfaction.