12 Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows File Explorer

Bottom Line: Learn time-saving shortcuts for working with folders and files.

Skill Level: Beginner

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12 Keyboard Shortcuts

Below are 12 of my favorite keyboard shortcuts to use when working with Windows File Explorer. These will work for both Windows 10 and Windows 11.

1. Opening File Explorer

To open the File Explorer window, simply press the Windows button + E.

Open File Explorer

2. Set Focus on Side Bar

Once your window is open, you may want to jump over to the Navigation Pane sidebar to navigate to pinned items in the Quick Access menu.

Shift + Tab will move your selection from the files in the main window to the folder options in the left sidebar. (Tab will move you back to the main window). In either location, you can use your arrow keys to go up or down in the list of folders.

Set Focus to Side Bar of File Explorer

3. Open a New Window with the Same Folder

Ctrl + N will essentially duplicate the File Explorer window you are currently in.

Click to enlarge

This is especially helpful when you are organizing files and moving them between various folders because you can simply drag them from window to window.

4. Close a File Explorer Window

When you are done with a File Explorer window (or any window, for that matter) just use Ctrl + W to close the selected window.

Close File Explorer Window

Another option to close the window is Alt + F4.

5. Create a New Folder

The shortcut for making a new folder is Crtl + Shift + N. You will immediately be prompted to name the new folder.

Create new Folder in File Explorer

6. Navigate to Other Folders

Simply hit Backspace to move to the previous folder. It's the same as using the left-pointing arrow. (This tip also works in your web browser.)

Navigate to previous folder

An alternative option is to use Alt + . Likewise, Alt + will move you to the next folder.

Navigate to previous or next folder

7. Navigate to the Parent Folder

Alt + will move you to the parent folder.

Navigate to Parent folder

8. Renaming Files and Folders

To edit or rename a file or folder, simply hit F2 when your file is selected. (If you are on a laptop, you may have to press the Fn key when you hit F2.)

Rename File or Folder with F2 in File Explorer

If you also want to rename subsequent files/folders in your list, you can hit Tab after renaming instead of Enter, and it will jump you to the next file. This is a great way to quickly rename multiple files.

Rename the Multiple Files or Folders with the Tab Key Shortcut in Windows File Explorer

To discard those changes and exit the edit mode, you can press Esc.

9. Select the Address Bar

Ctrl + L is the shortcut to navigate to the address bar, and it automatically selects all of the text in the bar for easy copying.

Select Address Bar File Explorer

An alternate shortcut for this is Alt + D. These shortcuts also work in your web browser.

10. Search File Explorer

To navigate to the Search field, just press Ctrl + F. Then you can type whatever you are looking for and hit Enter to see all of the files within the current folder that contain that word.

Search File Explorer

11. Change the View

There are several views that are available in File Explorer, ranging from Extra Large Icon View to Detailed List View. The two that are most used are Large Icons (Ctrl + Shift + 2) and Details (Ctrl + Shift + 6).

Large Icon View for File Explorer
Detail view for file explorer

These two options are also available as buttons in the bottom right-hand corner of the File Explorer window.

Detail and Large Icon Buttons

The reason these shortcuts include a 2 and a 6 is because they are second and sixth in the list of view options available. A shortcut can be made for any of the other options by using the corresponding number.

file explorer view shortcuts

12. Right-Click Menu

To open the right-click menu you can either use the Menu key or Shift + F10.

Not all keyboards have a Menu key. If yours has one it will be between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the right side of your keyboard. Check out this post about my favorite Logitech keyboard which does have a Menu key.

If you don't have a Menu key, you can use Shift + F10.

File Explorer Right Click Menu

Related Posts

If you like shortcuts, I've got lots more to show you! Check out these posts to learn some of them:

7 Uncommon Excel Shortcuts to Share with Your Coworkers

Excel Keyboard Shortcuts for Number Formats

5 Keyboard Shortcuts for Rows and Columns in Excel

7 Keyboard Shortcuts for the Filter Drop Down Menus in Excel

Conclusion

Now you have 12 quick and easy shortcuts to use when working with File Explorer. Which is your favorite? Did I miss one? Leave a comment below to let us know!

  • I am frequently asked to copy 20, 60, or 100 names and addresses from a list of thousands to print as a pdf file. Is there a quicker or more effecient way to highlight many lines and columns other than scrolling down 100 names?????

    • Yes, it’s a great tool! I mostly use it for the color picker and haven’t used the file renaming features much yet. I’ll add it to our list for future posts. Thanks for suggesting it!

  • Morning Jon, hope all is well with you & the fam. Thanks soooo much for these! I’m always having to move my browsers and files around to see the Desktop long enough to open a folder’s shortcut. I only knew about the F2 rename – will definitely be committing the rest to memory! Have a good one!

    • Thanks Carrie! I’m happy to hear it helped.

      Windows key+D is the shortcut to show the desktop. Not sure if you are familiar with that one. I use it all the time when I’m recording videos and need to “minimize” all windows. You can press it again to bring the windows back.

      I hope that helps. Thanks again and have a nice weekend!

    • Hi Don,
      That’s interesting. It could be that another app you have running is overriding the shortcut. I’ve used several screen recording apps in the past that have shortcuts to initiate the recording. They are shortcuts like Ctrl+Shift+F9. The app takes priority over any built in shortcuts for other apps.

      Most apps will let you disable those types of shortcuts. So you might want to try figuring out if you have an app that is doing this. A quick Google search will usually return some results. Or you can close all apps, including background apps, and see if it works.

      I hope that helps. Thanks again and have a nice weekend!

  • For searching for files, free “Everything” software is amazing!

    It does not rename files, for example, but it is infallible for a search.

  • Really helpful tips for every individual irrespective of their occupation.
    Thanks a ton for this post.

  • My favorite :
    Window key + arrow key
    eg Window key + left puts window on left half of screen and let you select an second window to put on the right.
    Works with any window. It is the most easy way to put 2 windows next to each other without having to drag and position them.

    window key + home : if you want to focus on only the open window and close the rest. sometimes my screen gets too chaotic

    Another tip I give to my colleagues. To create a folder in your Onedrive folder (or other cloud system you use) and put all your links and favorites there. Create a shortcut this folder. (I use autohotkey for this and use Window key + Q, which are very close to each other. In most cases I use this shortcut instead of the file explorer shortcut win+E).
    In this way I can have access to all my links/favorites/.. from any computer and when getting a new computer and don’t have to create all these favorites, …

  • This is awesome! I like it. Am gaining alot from you Jon keep it up the good work.

  • Thanks, Jon!
    It was helpful, and my favorite one is Windows+m and Ctrl+n.
    Do you know how to add a folder from SharePoint online to Quick Access of File Explorer?

  • I was going to add Luc’s comments but he’s done a great job. Loved all your tips Jon. Learn something every time.

    The only thoughts I might add is Windows+D to minimize all the windows and show the desktop but leave Windows Explorer open. Then dragging and dropping by going to the Task bar, hovering over the new email or Windows Explorer window till it opens and then moving to the new email or Window to drop the file.

  • One more idea. When I download a bunch of pictures from my phone or camera they have some usually irrelevant name. First I delete the pics I don’t want to keep, usually more then I keep ;o) and then select the first one from the event and then shift and the last one from the event. Then I rename the first one something like “Jon’s 40th Birthday” and press enter and the group of pics gets renamed Jon’s 40th Birthday (1), (2), etc. Super helpful for managing Pics with more useful names.

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