Two Views: My Computer and Windows Explorer

Windows users see file management being handled by Windows Explorer or My Computer and might conclude that Windows uses separate programs to organize files. In fact, Windows Explorer and My Computer are the same program, Explorer.exe.

They differ only in how they display information. Windows Explorer shows the tree structure of folders on the left side of a split window and displays a list of files and subfolders on the right side of that same screen. My Computer displays only a list.

In the Explorer view, users can easily switch to the My Computer view. Just click the X--or close--button in the top right corner of the All Folders pane. To get the Explorer view back, click View on the Menu bar at the top of the window and then click the Explorer Bar submenu. Now click on Folders to restore the Explorer view.

Double-click My Computer and Windows displays a list that includes all of the drives installed on the computer. The C: drive is the hard drive, but a D: drive and even an E: drive might show up with the same icon if the hard drive is partitioned. My Computer also displays drive A: (the floppy disk), any CD-ROM drives and other removable media drives.

Right-click My Computer and then left-click Explore to bring up the Explorer view of drive C:. Here's how to combine the way My Computer displays all the drives with the Microsoft Explorer view.

Click Start, then Settings and select Taskbar & Start Menu. Click the Start Menu Programs tab. Click the Advanced button. Click the plus (+) sign that appears to the left of Programs in the Folder window. Now right-click the Windows Explorer shortcut that appears in the Programs list on the right.

Select Properties and then click the Shortcut tab. The Target box should read "C:WindowsExplorer.exe /n, /e, c:" without the quotes. Insert the Select switch by adding a space after the /e switch and typing "/select," and another space. Be sure to include the comma. The Target line will now read "C:WindowsExplorer.exe /n, /e, /select, c:" without the quotes.

Adding the Select switch with C: forces Windows to open Explorer in a My Computer view. So when users right-click the Start menu and click Explore, the window will look like the My Computer view.

Finally, users can change the fonts Windows uses in Explorer. By default, Explorer uses the same fonts Windows uses to identify or title icons on the Desktop. Right-click the Desktop and then Properties. Now click the Appearance tab in the Display Properties dialog box. Open the Item list by clicking on the down arrow that appears to the right and then choose Icon.

Now click the Font drop-down arrow and select any font from the available list. Windows will use the font you select for both icon titles and as text in Explorer.


Jeff Levy hosts the "On Computers" radio talk show from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on KFI-AM (640).

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