You can use the navigation pane (the left pane) to find files and folders. You can also move or copy items directly to a destination in the navigation pane.

If you don't see the navigation pane on the left side of an open window, click Organize, point to Layout, and then click Navigation pane to display it.

Picture of the navigation pane
The navigation pane
Show all

Use libraries to find files

Libraries let you access folders from various locations, such as your computer or an external hard drive. For more information, see Working with libraries.

The navigation pane is the easiest place to access libraries. Click a library to open it, and the content from all the folders that are included in your library appears in the file list.

Here are some other things you can do with libraries using the navigation pane:

  • To create a new library, right-click Libraries, point to New, and then click Library.

  • To move or copy files from the file list to a library's default save location, drag the files to the library in the navigation pane. If the files are on the same hard drive as the library's default save location, they'll be moved. If they're on a different hard drive, they'll be copied.

  • To rename a library, right-click it, click Rename, type a new name, and then press Enter.

  • To see the folders that have been included in a library, double-click the library name to expand it—the folders will be listed below the library.

  • To remove a folder from a library, right-click the folder that you want to remove, and then click Remove location From library. This only removes the folder from the library—it doesn't delete the folder from its original location.

  • To hide a library, right-click the library, and then click Don't show in navigation pane. This is a good solution if you're running out of space in the navigation pane but don't want to delete a library.

  • To show a hidden library, click Libraries, right-click the library in the file list, and then click Show in navigation pane.

Browse the Computer folder to find files

Using libraries is only one way to find files. You can also browse through folders and drives the classic way by expanding Computer in the navigation pane.

Picture of the Computer folder expanded in the navigation pane
The Computer folder expanded

Here are some of the things you can do while browsing for files:

  • To move or copy items from the file list to the navigation pane, drag the items to the folder that you want in the navigation pane. If an item is on the same hard disk as the folder, it will be moved. If it's on a different hard disk, it will be copied.

  • To view the different hard disks or other storage devices connected to your computer, click Computer.

  • To create a new folder, right-click the folder that you want to put it in, point to New, and then click Folder.

  • To see your saved searches, double-click Computer, double-click your primary hard disk, double-click Users, double-click your user name, and then double-click Searches.

Customize your favorites

To add a folder, a saved search, a library, or even a drive as a favorite, drag it to the Favorites section in the navigation pane.

Picture of the Favorites list in the navigation pane
The Favorites list in the navigation pane

Here are some other ways to customize your favorites:

  • To change the order of favorites, drag a favorite to a new position in the list.

  • To restore the default favorites in the navigation pane, right-click Favorites, and then click Restore Favorite Links.

  • To view the folder where your favorites are stored, click Favorites in the navigation pane. Favorites are stored as shortcuts.

  • To remove a favorite, right-click the favorite, and then click Remove. This removes the favorite from the navigation pane—it doesn't delete the files or folders that the shortcut points to.

Tip

  • You can add websites to your Windows favorites by dragging the icon in the address bar of your web browser directly to the Favorites section in the Windows navigation pane.

Change navigation pane settings

  1. In an open window, click Organize, and then click Folder and search options.

  2. In the Folder Options dialog box, click the General tab, and then do one or both of the following:

    • To show all the folders on your computer in the navigation pane, including your personal folder, select the Show all folders check box, and then click OK.

    • To automatically expand the navigation pane to the folder that's selected in the folder window, select the Automatically expand to current folder check box, and then click OK.

Tip

  • You can quickly expand the navigation pane to the current location you are navigated to by pressing Ctrl+Shift+E.