This article will inform you about some of the new features for Windows Explorer that have been integrated into Windows Vista. It is no longer a simple user interface for copying, moving or renaming files and folders. Instead, you’ll have endless possibilities with preview panes, a new search mechanism and even a couple ways to visually arrange your data. Let’s check it all out!
In the upper right corner of each and every Windows Explorer screen, you’ll see the Search box. Just type in a phrase or a word and Windows Vista will give you (thanks to the indexing functionality) the results almost instantly.
You can also use the Search Tools/Search Pane feature for more options. Your results can then be filtered using the categories of this search pane (including E-mail, Document, Picture, Music and Other). With the Other filter option, Windows Vista browses for all non-recognizable file types. You may find this interesting as well: Even objects, such as e-mails or contacts, are included in the results, which makes the search feature a lot more useful than it has been in the past!
You are also given the opportunity to save a specific search query just by clicking on Save Search. For example, you can save a search for pictures in a certain folder you have on your desktop. If you double click on the search folder, all the files will be displayed instantly. Additionally, these folders are dynamic, which means that if you add new pictures or subfolders to the original folder, the saved search will automatically include those in the results shown when you open the search folder. Cool, huh?!
An Adapting Explorer
Depending on the content of folders, Windows Explorer changes its options accordingly. For example, if you navigate through a folder containing pictures, you’ll get the options of Preview, Slideshow, Print, E-mail and Burn.
Using the Preview option, you can open a picture in any installed editing application (such as PhotoShop, PhotoImpact or the Windows Photo Gallery). With the help of the Burn shortcut, you are free to create a DVD with slideshows, videos, background music and a complete menu for your DVD player using the Windows DVD Maker.
Show the Preview Pane
If you want to know what contents are in a file without ever opening it, you’ll find great pleasure in the preview pane! It shows you the contents of a variety of file types (such as pictures, documents and e-mails) within Windows Explorer. To activate it, just click on Organize/Layout/Preview Pane.
At the bottom of your Windows Explorer, you’ll discover a wide range of file information, depending on the type (for example, author, tags, date, comments, etc). You are able to edit this information just by clicking on the element once. For example, for all your pictures in a folder, you can add tags, such as summer, vacation, 2007, desert, rental car and so on. You know, whatever fits your pictures the best. Using the Windows Vista Search (Start menu, Search), you can use the Advanced Search method to search for these tags as well.
Let’s take a look at another example. You can add tags to certain types of documents (such as invoices) that may be located in a bunch of different folders and locations on your hard disk. In that case, you can always use the search option, type in the tag (“invoice”) and have all your documents in one place. Of course, you might want to save this search for when you’re using Windows Explorer, because then, you can access your results at any time. You see, all the features of the new Windows Explorer in Vista come together and allow for an intelligent organization of data!
Stack, Sort and Group
Specifically in folders with a large quantity of files (in this case, we have a large music folder), you’ll lose the clear view pretty fast. So, what can you do? Well, Windows Vista gives you three choices. The first one is Sort. In your Windows Explorer, you’ll find the categories of Name, Artist, Album or Genre. If you click on the small arrow right next to Genre, you can choose between several music styles (like Rock, Classic, Pop, etc.), which narrows down your search immensely.
In the same menu, you’ll find the next organization feature planted into Windows Vista, called Stack. Just click on the arrow next to a category and select Stack by Genre (for example). If you scroll down, you will notice some new blue colored stacks that are carrying the name of the different genres.
Right next to the menu option of Sort is where you’ll find our final option of Group. The Windows Explorer splits the content of a folder into different groups. For example, if you click on Name/Group (in a music folder), Windows Explorer splits all the files and folders into groups, such as “0-999,” “A-D,” “E-H,” etc.
There you have it! I hope you have learned a little bit about the new organization capabilities that are built right into the new generation of Windows Explorer in Vista. I also hope that you are able to organize and find your files much easier and faster in the future. Give it a try today!
~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami