A Closer Look at the View Ribbon

“But my screen doesn’t look like that!”

Everyone’s computer will be set a little differently, and with everyone having different Files and Folders, you can expect your screen to look slightly different from the examples given here, and from your friends’ and neighbours’ screens.

Firstly, as so wisely instructed by the late, great Douglas Adams:

Don’t Panic!

Look for the similarities, rather than the differences. You should have the main features available.

As we are focusing on Appearance, it would be well to be able to see the View Ribbon. Most PCs will have this set by default, but if not, there are two ways to show it.

  1. CTRL-F1. (We learnt previously about holding the Control key, and tapping another key. This Command uses the “Function One” key, labelled “F1”, the very top row of your keyboard).
  2. “Expand the Ribbon” button. As shown here, the small ‘arrow’ at the top right of your Window will show or hide the Ribbon.
The Show/Hide Ribbon button
Show or Hide the Ribbon using this button!

Now we can see our Ribbon, let us take a closer look at the Tools available on it.

Click on the “View” tab, to show the viewing tools.

The "View" tab
The “View” tab

Notice that the Ribbon is split into sections. Each section has its name beneath it. See from the above image that the “Panes” and “Layout” sections are visible. (You should also have other sections.)

Each section has a group of tools that perform similar functions. Let us take a look:

Panes

The File Explorer window is split into several sections, as we have seen. The Ribbon and Location Bar at the top, and below that, the Navigation Pane and the Main Section.

As you can see from the Ribbon, there are other “Panes” available. Click on each of them to view or hide them.

Navigation Pane

We have briefly looked at this. It provides shortcuts to move between different Folders. It will usually have your Default Folders (Documents, Pictures, Music, etc), and a set of “Recently used” Folders.

Preview Pane

When this Pane is visible, it will appear on the right-hand side of your screen.

If you select a File (by clicking once on it), the computer will attempt to show you a Preview of the File.

If you have the Layout set to “Medium Icons” or larger, then the Icons will also show this preview. The Preview Pane is more useful when you have Layout set to Details, or List.

Not all Files are capable of showing a Preview, and the Preview Pane will inform you if you have selected such a File.

Details pane

This Pane will appear instead of the Preview Pane, at the right of the screen.

When you select a File, this Pane will display some extra information about the File, including when it was last modified, how much space it takes up, and more, depending upon what type of file it is.

This information is similar to that shown when using the Details Layout, so is more useful if you are using the Icons Layouts.

All of these Panes may be Hidden, by clicking their Button on the Ribbon, if you prefer less “clutter” on your screen.

I very rarely show the Preview or Details Panes, but you may find them useful.

Layout

The Layout section
The Layout section

In this section, we can control how we view the Icons in the main section.

Hover over each of the choices, and the icons will show that style. They will revert back if you move away, or you can set them to the style you prefer by Clicking the style you like.

Large Icons” and “Extra-large Icons” can be useful if your folder contains a lot of Images, as you will be shown a Preview without having to open each file individually to see what it contains.

Details” will show you some extra information about each file.

List” is good for fitting a lot of Files and Folders on the screen at once.

Have a practice at changing between these styles, and choose one that you like.

Personally, I move between Large Icons and Details, depending on which Files I am working with, but you should use the style you are happiest with.

Details
“Details” Style.
List
“List” style
Extra-Large Icons!
Extra-Large Icons!

Current View

The “Current View” tools can be used to change the order that your Files and Folders are displayed in.

Sort By

This tool, as its name suggests, will allow you to sort your Files in a variety of ways. Clicking the button will show a menu of options, including Date, Name, Type and more.

The "Sort By" Menu
The “Sort By” Menu

By Default, Items are arranged by Name, with Folders being shown first, and then Files. You can change this to arrange in other orders, and as you can see from the Menu, in Ascending or Descending order (so that you can have “Newest First”, or “Oldest First”, for example).

Group By

This tool allows us not just to order our Files, but to split them into groups, making it easier to differentiate between them.

The best way to explain this is to show you an example:

Files Grouped by Type
Files Grouped by Type

As you can see, all of the .pdf files are now together, and all of the .bmp files are next to each other, separated into “Groups”.

This, like Sort By, can be done by Name, Date, Type, etc.

This can  be a very useful tool if you are organising your files. e.g. You can Group By Date to put all photos taken on a certain date together, and Shift-Click them (remember how we hold SHIFT, click the first file we want, then keeping SHIFT held, click the last file, to select all of these files), to Cut and Paste into their own folder.

(The other tools on this section are not needed at the moment, and we shall not be discussing them)

Show/Hide section

These tools will alter the way some things are displayed.

Item Check Boxes

If this is switched on, then hovering over an item will reveal its Check Box. Clicking this box will Select that item.

This can be useful for selecting Multiple items, rather than CTRL- or SHIFT- clicking.

Some "Checked" items
Some “Checked” items

These items may then be Cut or Copied, as previously discussed.

File Name Extensions

THIS SHOULD BE SWITCHED ON!

File Name Extensions tell you what Type each file is.

For example, I have three files associated with a 3d modelling project, all with the same name! The previews are very similar.

With the Extensions viewable, I can easily see which is the Project File (.skp), which is the BackUp file (.skb), and which is a snapshot of the project (.jpg, an Image file).

Files, with Extensions showing!
Files, with Extensions showing!

Hidden Items

Some files are marked as “Hidden”. Usually these are System Files, that you would not want to change, move or delete. By making sure that this box is NOT ticked, you will not be able to see or affect these files.

There are circumstances where these files will want to be available, but I would recommend that you keep them Hidden.

Hide Selected Items

You can choose to mark Files as Hidden, and they will not be displayed unless you Tick the previously mentioned “Show Hidden Items” box.

I Strongly recommend that you do NOT do this.

There is very little reason, outside of System Diagnosis and Repair that you would want to do this.

Options

A long, complicated list of Advanced Options.

Probably best to ignore.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

You can now adjust your Display to the way you like!

Have a try with some of the Layouts and Groups (notice the “Group By > None” option, to remove the groupings!)

Don’t worry if you get it wrong. These tools do not actually change any Data, just the way the items are shown to you. It can all be changed back easily.

Do you like List View, or Large Icons? Do you use the Preview Pane?

Why not let me know how you prefer your Screen Display.

3 thoughts on “A Closer Look at the View Ribbon”

  1. I have found this very informative.
    When previously reading this, I found that reducing the icon sizes was useful because I could then see all of the folders on my screen without having to scroll down. I selected Medium-Sized Icons.
    Reading this again and trying new options, I find that the List looks even better. Why do I need to see folders? I don’t.
    Also, it’s now even better, because I found that I could hide the Navigation Plane. I didn’t even know it was called that. I have never seen the point of it. I didn’t use it, and found it annoying that I couldn’t delete things from it. So I now have a new bigger documents screen. Wow!
    Liking to organise things for myself, I use numbers and alphabetical order for files. So I wouldn’t use the Sort By or Group By options.
    No, I don’t use the Preview Pane.
    Pamela.

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