Windows Explorer explained: Easier file selection

A little-known Windows setting makes it much easier to select multiple files for copying, moving, deleting, etc.

People who don't work with files on a regular basis have a devil of a time remembering the keyboard shortcut for selecting multiple files. (You hold down the Ctrl key while clicking each individual file.)

Thankfully, there's a "secret" workaround that was introduced with Windows Vista (and is still available in Windows 7). Instead of holding down the Ctrl key, you simply click a checkbox next to each file you want to select. Much easier!

To enable this handy option, open Explorer (remember, Windows-E is the fastest shortcut), click the Organize menu, and then choose Folder and Search Options. Next, click the View tab, and then scroll down until you see Use check boxes to select items. Enable it, then click OK.

Presto! Now, whenever you mouse over a file, a checkbox should appear in the left column. Select multiple files, then drag 'em wherever you want, tap the Delete key, or do whatever else you need to do.

Also, note that you can click the "master" checkbox next to Name to instantly select all the files (as an alternative to the old-standby, Ctrl-A).

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags operating systemssoftwareWindowsWindows 7Windows Vista

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?