It is easy to get lost among the pile of folders on most hard disks unless you can actually see the ways the folders are related to each other. The folder tree is just such a helpful diagram.
The folder tree shows all of the computer's drives and folders in a nested arrangement, plus some special areas like the Control Panel and Recycle Bin.
A small symbol,or , marks drives and folders which contain other folders. Clicking this symbol expands this branch of the folder tree.
Another symbol, or , marks something that is already expanded to show its contents. Clicking the symbol will collapse this branch of the folder tree.
In some versions of Windows, you can show or not show dotted lines between equal levels in the folder tree.
Vista/Win7: By default, the arrows and do not show until the mouse pointer is over the folder tree.
Step-by-Step: Folder Tree
|What you will learn:|| to open a view of the folder tree
to change the view
to expand and collapse the folder tree
to view folders on removable media
Note: You do not need to make your windows as small as the illustrations. Those are small to speed up the loading of the web page.
In Windows Vista & Win7, the folder tree is always available in a window that shows files and folders, but it may be hidden.
Class disk does not show at the left
Disks may not be expanded automatically in the folder tree. Different versions of Windows have different default behavior for this action.
Solution: Click on the symbol beside Computer to expand it's branch of the folder tree.
The Details view is not inherited when you open a new drive or folder.
Problem: Vista/Win7- Menu bar is not
Solution: Press the ALT key to show it temporarily. To show the menus permanently, >
Clicking a drive or folder in the folder tree will display the contents on the right, but it does not expand the folder tree on the left. Double-clicking a drive or folder on the left does expand the tree, just like clicking the symbols, or .
How does the right pane change with each different View?
Do you see advantages or disadvantages for particular views?
Default Column Width: The default width of a column in the Small Icons and List views, depends on the length of the names in the list. Here is yet another reason to keep file names reasonably short.
Experiment: Expand & Collapse
In the folder tree pane on the left, click the symbols beside various drives and folders to expand and collapse the folder tree. Now Double-click the name of a drive or folder. Play around a bit, but do NOT drag. That would move whatever you had clicked on!
Does the right pane change as you expand and collapse the folder tree?
Click on various folder and drive names in the folder tree.
What does the right pane show?
Conclusion: When something is selected on the left, its contents show on the right. You can expand and collapse the folder tree without changing the right pane by clicking on the symbols beside a folder name.
WinXP by default automatically expands a branch in the folder tree when you select it in the Navigation pane. Vista does not do this by default. This behavior is part of "simple folder view", which is a choice in the Folder Options dialog on the View tab under Advanced settings. In both WinXP and Vista this setting also controls whether or not you see dotted lines in the folder tree between levels in the folder tree. Win7 does not have the choice for simple folder view.
No folder named Windows on drive C:
Sometimes Windows may not be installed to the default folder.
Solution: Look through the folder tree to find where the operating system was installed. (We are assuming that you are working on a computer that is using Windows as the operating system!)
At the top of the right pane in the Details view, some labels for properties of the files are displayed: Name, Size, Type, Modified or Date Modified. These column headings are actually sort buttons that manage the order of the display of this pane. Clicking one will reorder the display based on that property. Clicking it again will reverse the order.
Vista/Win7: The buttons appear at the top of the Contents pane for all views. For previous versions, the sort buttons appear only in the Details view.
Resize columns: You can
adjust the widths of the sort buttons and thus the columns in Details
view. This is useful when only part of
the information will fit. Put your pointer over the right edge of a column
heading. The pointer changes to resize shape. Drag to the left to reduce the
column size. Drag to the right to enlarge the column. Double-click to
size the column to fit the widest item displayed.
How they sort:
Name sorts alphabetically with folders first.
Size sorts files based on size but leaves folders in alphabetical order.
Modified date sorts based on the date the file or folder was last changed.
Type sorts the files by type, which is indicated by a file's extension and icon. However, some extensions are treated as the same type, so the display is not exactly alphabetical for extensions. For example, the extensions exe and dll are grouped together because they are both executable files. That means that they run programs.
Remembering folder options choices: The arrangement that you choose for the icons applies to the open folder only. Windows can remember your choices for several recently viewed folders. There is no way to make your choices stick permanently. Once the maximum number of folders is reached, making more changes will replace the oldest choices. The maximum for Vista is supposed to be 5000 and for Win7 it is 20,000. You can apply your choices for the current folder to All folders in the Folder Options dialog.