Thursday, 21 February 2008

Windows Folder Options Explained (Part 1)

In the 'Tools' menu of any Explorer window there is a 'Folder Options' item. This opens a dialog box that enables us to change the behaviour and the look of Explorer windows. This series of articles explore these various settings. The first part will deal with the 'General' tab.

Note: This article refers to Windows Explorer, the in-built file manager program, not to Internet Explorer, the web browser.

General Settings
The 'General' page has three settings, and a 'Restore Defaults' button that you can press to return to Windows' original settings.


The first setting, 'Tasks', can be used to either show or hide the left hand pane in Explorer windows. The default setting - 'Show common tasks in folders' -will make Explorer windows look like this:

Selecting 'Use Windows classic folders' will make the windows look like this:

Browse folders
This setting can be used to change the way that Explorer responds to a double-click on a folder. If you have 'Open each folder in the same window' set, when you double click on a folder icon the current Explorer window will show the contents of that folder. This is the default setting for more recent versions of Windows; older versions defaulted to the other setting - 'Open each folder in its own window'. If this is selected then a double click on a folder will result in a new window opening up showing the contents of that folder. All fairly self explanatory.

Click items as follows
You can change the way that Windows responds to clicks on icons with this setting. The default is 'Double-click to open an item (single-click to select)'; however, you can make Windows behave like a web browser, that is, it will open a file when you click on it once. To do this select 'Single-click to open an item (point to select)'. This has two sub-settings, which change the way that the icons appear. They will look like the following image all the time if the 'Underline icon titles consistent with my browser' option is elected, or only when you hover the mouse pointer over them if the 'Underline icon titles only when I point at them' option is selected.

I recommend that you leave this setting as default.

The next article will look at the first collection of the settings on the 'View' tab.