A+ Certification / Beginners

Windows Explorer

By the end of this section, you will see that My Computer as an application does not actually exist. To open this application, choose Start → All Programs → Accessories → Windows Explorer for Windows XP computers, or Start → Programs → Accessories → Windows Explorer for Windows 2000 computers. This window has a right-hand pane that resembles My Computer and a left-hand pane that hierarchically displays all folders or containers on your computer, starting with Desktop and defaulting to My Documents. The left-hand pane is called the Navigation pane or Folders Explorer Bar. The left-hand pane is what makes Windows Explorer different from My Computer.

Now, you will see why a My Computer application does not really exist. In the top-right corner of the Navigation pane is a small x, which is the close button for the navigation pane. If you select My Computer in the Navigation pane, close the navigation pane, and change the view to Icons for both Windows, you will see that this window is the same as the My Computer window. To show the Navigation pane, select View → Explorer Bar → Folders. The Navigation pane allows you to quickly move from one folder to another, or to copy files from one folder to another without opening multiple windows. Many Windows users prefer the Explorer view to the My Computer view of their files.

This section showed that both views of your files use the same program, Windows Explorer or explorer.exe.

explorer.exe is not only used for My Computer and Windows Explorer, but the first time it is run on your computer, it is launched as the desktop. If you close all open windows and check your Processes tab in Task Manager, you will see that one copy explorer.exe still running. If you right-click → End Process on explorer.exe in the processes list, your desktop will disappear, and you will only see your wallpaper. If explorer.exe does not automatically reload, use Task Manager, File → New Task(Run) to open the Create New Task dialog box, type explorer.exe, and click OK. This will reload the desktop copy of explorer.exe.

If you want to quickly open Windows Explorer, right-click My Computer and choose Explore from the shortcut menu. This Explore option shows up in the right-click menu for any folder.

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