Introducing Windows 8.1: How To Use The Home Tab In File Explorer

One way that Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 improve over previous versions of Windows is by adding the ribbon interface introduced in Microsoft Office 2007 into the File Explorer. This ribbon introduces a system of tabs and buttons. Each tab, like the menus they replace, houses a series of tools to help you work with files and folders. In this article we'll show you the default Home tab. This is where you'll find the tools you'll need most often while browsing in the File Explorer.

How To Access The File Explorer's Home Tab

Getting to the Home tab is simple, since it loads by default when you launch the File Explorer. So, if you haven't already, just go ahead and click the folder icon on the taskbar to start File Explorer.

If you're already in the File Explorer and you've navigated away from the Home tab, just click or tap Home. If the ribbon is minimized, double click or double tap the Home tab.

You'll find the Home tab is broken up into five sections that logically separate the tools: Clipboard, Organize, New, Open and Select. We'll take a look at each section separately to show you the tools available to you.

One thing that you should remember about this tab and the ribbon in general is that it is very contextual. The ribbon changes the tabs displayed based on what you selected in File Explorer. Therefore, the Home tab is shown only if libraries, folders or files are selected. If you find yourself in the Homegroup, Network or This PC sections, you won't be able to view it.

How To Use The Clipboard Section In The Home Tab

The clipboard section of the Home tab deals with adding and removing information from your computer's clipboard, which is where information is stored when you execute a copy or cut command. There are five tools in this section that you can use by simply clicking or tapping the buttons:

  • Copy - This adds a copy of the selected file or folder to the Windows clipboard.
  • Paste - This takes the information in the clipboard and saves it to the currently open location in File Explorer.
  • Cut - This removes the selected file or folder from its current location in File Explorer and places it in the clipboard.
  • Copy Path - This saves a copy of the full file path to the selected file or folder.
  • Paste Shortcut - This creates a shortcut to the files or folders found in the clipboard, in the current location in File Explorer.

How To Use The Tools Found In The Organize Section

The Organize section of the Home tab deals with moving, naming and removing files with File Explorer. There are four tools at your disposal in this section:

  • Move to - This tool allows you to cut the selected files or folders and paste them in a location you select.
  • Copy to - This tool is used to create a copy of the currently selected files or folders and paste it in a location of your choosing.
  • Delete - Use this tool to remove a file from File Explorer.
  • Rename - Allows you to rename the selected file or folder.

Selecting the "Move to" button opens a menu from which you can select a location to move your selected files or folders. The menu will be populated by commonly used locations, but you may not find the place you're looking for. If this is the case, click or tap "Choose location" and browse to the place you are looking for.

Clicking or tapping "Copy to" grants you access to the same menu.

If you click or tap the Delete button, your selected file or folder will be sent to the Recycle Bin, which is great, since that's the most common way you'll want to delete a file. If you want more options though, you can click or tap the down arrow below the Delete button to view a menu. From there you can choose to send the file to your Recycle Bin or permanently delete it.

You can also toggle whether or not you want to see a confirmation when you delete a file by clicking or tapping "Show recycle confirmation."

How To Use The Tools Found In The New Section

The New section houses tools you can use to create files and folders:

  • New Folder - This button creates a new folder in the current location.
  • New item - This menu help you create a new file or folder of your chosen type.
  • Easy access - This menu gives you access to tools that make accessing your files easier.

The New Item menu lets you choose from a list of file types you can create.

The Easy Access menu gives you a bunch of options for making your selected folders easier to access:

  • Pin to Start - This creates a tile on your Start screen the links to the currently selected folder.
  • Include in library - This adds the selected folder to a library of your choice: either Documents, Music, Videos, Pictures or a library that you created.
  • Add to Favorites - This adds a link to the currently selected folder in the Favorites section at the top of the left pane of the File Explorer window.
  • Map as drive - Use this to map a network drive as a local drive on your computer.
  • Always available offline - This makes network files and folders available to you even when you're not connected to the network.
  • Sync - This syncs any changes made to network files when you were offline.
  • Work offline - This disconnects the selected network drive so you can work offline.

Notice that some of these options are grayed out and unavailable depending on what you choose in File Explorer. You will have access to different options when selecting a file, versus a folder or a library.

How To Use The Open Section In The Home Tab

The Open section of the Home tab gives you tools to help you open and work with your files. There are four tools to use here:

  • Properties - This lets you access or edit your selected file's Properties dialog.
  • Open - This lets you open the selected file in a program of your choosing.
  • Edit - This opens the selected file for editing in the default application for the chosen file type.
  • History - This grants you access to the history of your selected file, provided you have File History configured.

Clicking or tapping the Properties button simply opens the Properties dialog, but you can get more options by clicking the down arrow below the button. From here you can choose to simply open the dialog or you can remove metadata tags from your file by clicking or tapping "Remove properties."

Selecting "Remove Properties" opens a dialog that lets you create a file copy without metadata or cherry pick which tags to remove from the selected file.

To create a Properties free file, select "Create a copy with all possible properties removed" and then click or tap OK. To remove specific information from your file's properties, select "Remove the following properties from this file," select which properties to remove and then click or tap OK.

Selecting Open will drop down a list of applications that are capable of opening your selected file. You can choose a program from the list or click or tap Choose default program.

How To Use The Select Section In The Home Tab

The Select section houses tools to help you select file and folders from the current File Explorer window. There are three tools to choose from:

  • Select all - Selects all files and folders in the File Explorer window.
  • Select none - Deselects all files and folders in the File Explorer window.
  • Invert Selection - Deselects any selected files and folders and selects any unselected files and folders.


As you can clearly see, the Home tab isn't adding any new functions to File Explorer, it's simply making previously available tools easier to access. You no longer have to browse through deep menus or right-click and navigate context menus, all the tools you need for basic file manipulation are right there lined up and ready at the top of the screen.