Introducing Windows 8.1: How To Use The File Menu In File Explorer

In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, File Explorer has been given a major overhaul in the form of the ribbon interface. This new design brings all of the tools that were previously buried in the menus of the previous Windows Explorer from Windows 7, and puts them out in the open, organized and easy to find. Upon exploring this new interface, you'll find the only menu to survive the cut is the File menu, though you'll also find that it looks nothing like it used to. It turns out that this menu is very useful and includes lots of tools that you will want to use. Here's how it works:

How To Access File Explorer's File Menu

To get to the new File menu, you'll need to first open File Explorer. Click or tap on its shortcut on the taskbar or search for it on the Start screen. Once you're in, click or tap the File button in the top-left corner of the window.

The File menu provides access to commonly visited locations and gives you an easy way to open several tools.

Read on and we'll detail all the options available to you.

How To Access Frequently Visited Folders In File Explorer

The most common use for the File menu will likely be the list of your frequently visited locations. This list is comprised of those folders and drives you return to time and time again. Take a look at the right pane of the File menu to see your list.

Click or tap any of the gray pin icons next to a location to permanently pin it to this list. Pinned items will always display here regardless of whether or not you continue to visit them regularly. Any locations with a blue icon are already pinned. Click a blue pin to unpin the item, but be aware that the location might drop off the list if you haven't visited it lately.

You can also access this list, as well as pin or unpin items from it, by right-clicking or long-pressing the File Explorer icon from the Desktop taskbar.

If you want to remove an item from your list of most frequently visited locations, right click on it or press and hold and then click or tap "Remove from this list". Unfortunately this cannot be done from the File menu.

How To Open A New File Explorer Window In A Different Process

The next feature of is to open a new File Explorer window. Click or tap "Open new window" to view your options:

  • Open new window - Opens a new File Explorer window, using the existing explorer.exe process.
  • Open new window in new process - Creates a whole new explorer.exe process and opens a new window. You should use this option if you want to run two or more processes and don't want to risk the crash of one taking down all the others. If one explorer.exe process crashes, the others will be safe.

How To Open The Command Prompt To The Current Folder

While the Command Prompt isn't the most popular of tools among home users, it's a very handy utility for administrators and power users. The File menu gives those who need it a quick way to launch this utility.

Click or tap "Open command prompt" to see your options:

  • Open command prompt- Opens a
    Command Prompt within the currently selected folder, with standard permissions.
  • Open command prompt as administrator- Opens a Command Prompt within the currently selected folder, with administrator permissions.

How To Launch PowerShell To The Current Folder

If few users commonly use the Command Prompt, even fewer will need PowerShell, which is complex tool for administrators and power users. However, if you're an admin and you need it, this is where you'll want to go.

Click or tap "Open Windows PowerShell" to view your options.

  • Open Windows PowerShell - Opens PowerShell within the currently selected folder, with standard permissions.
  • Open Windows PowerShell as administrator - Opens PowerShell within the currently selected folder, with administrator permissions.

How To Delete File Explorer's History

Your next option allows you to delete the history for the Recent Places list in your Favorites section, as well as the history for the Address bar.

Click or tap "Delete history" to view your options:

  • Recent places list - Deletes the history for the Recent places list that appears in the Favorites section of File Explorer. This list is also shown when you right-click or press and hold the File Explorer icon on the taskbar.
  • Address bar history - This deletes the history for the list of places you've typed into File Explorer's Address bar.

How To Access Windows Help From File Explorer

Another feature of the File menu that will help a lot of novice users is that it provides access to the Windows Help and Support. Click or tap Help to see your options:

  • Help - Opens Windows Help and Support which you can use to find tutorials on how to use Windows and its features.
  • About Windows - Opens an About page that shows you information about your version of Windows.

How To Close File Explorer Using the File Menu

The last option on the list requires little explanation. Click or tap Close to close the active File Explorer window.


You've noticed by now that the old menu structure from previous versions of Windows is long gone. Though the File menu remains, it looks nothing like its predecessor. Though it will take getting used to, it is very useful for power users who need quick access to common utilities or all users who want to find a popular location quickly or need help using their operating system.