17 June 2013

Guest Blog: Matthew James, Software Developer - Windows Explorer, navigation tips & tricks

The guide below is intended for use with Windows 7, but much of the advice is applicable to other versions of Windows.

In a standard office environment you probably spend a fair amount of time with this useful tool, but this guide will hopefully show you a few additional ways to improve your Windows experience, followed by discussion of a practical example.

Let’s start by opening Windows Explorer. You can access this feature by selecting the Start icon in the lower left of your main screen, followed by ‘Computer’. If this is not already pinned to your task bar you should right-click this option and select ‘pin this program to taskbar’.

The Explorer is split into 2 main areas, the window area, which will display everything on your current level and the shortcut bar to the left which allows for quick navigation to commonly accessed areas of your system.

The window area will display folders that you can double-click on to navigate through the file system or files, which you can double-click to open. However, you can get a lot more options by right-clicking on these objects. For example, you can create a compressed version of your file by right-clicking and going to Send to -> Compressed folder or rapidly send an email by going to Send to -> Mail recipient. I recommend you take the time to test these different options to see which will be helpful to you.

Your shortcut bar will typically have a ‘Favourites’ section, which should include your Desktop and Downloads folders. If you select the Recent Places folder this will display the latest folders that you have entered, allowing you to rapidly navigate to one of these locations. In addition you will have instant access to your media libraries, the drive(s) on your computer and any networked computers that will allow you to access them.

If you find yourself regularly going to the same folder you can create your own shortcut, this will allow you to instantly travel to this location from Windows Explorer. Drag this folder to Favourites in the shortcut bar and it should be there ready for you to use.

Let’s consider a scenario often encountered by our users. Imagine you have customised a report and you need to place the template into your ‘CustomReports’ folder. The first step would be to open Ensemble and go to Tools (top menu) -> Parameters -> Configuration Settings -> Settings -> Shared Location. Select the file on your desktop and click the file, then use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + C) to copy the file. You can now open windows explorer and navigate to this location and within the CustomReports folder press Ctrl + V to paste the file. You have now successfully copied a file from your desktop into the appropriate location within the Shared Location. To keep this shortcut for future reference you should attach it to the shortcut bar as mentioned above.

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