How to Use File Explorer without a Mouse in Windows 10

How to Use File Explorer without a Mouse in Windows 10

The Windows 10 file manager is packed with keyboard shortcuts. You can launch File Explorer and use it fully with your keyboard – without touching the mouse. This is not Norton Commander, but it is very keyboard friendly.

Launch File Explorer

To launch File Explorer from anywhere on your Windows system, press Windows + E.

You can also use other keyboard shortcuts – for example, if File Explorer is the first icon from the left in your Windows 10 task bar, you can press Windows +1 to activate the taskbar button. If it is the third icon on the taskbar, you can press Windows + 3 to activate it.

Navigate the Folder

File Explorer will open to the Quick Access view when you launch it. Use the arrow keys to select files and folders and press Enter to enter the folder or open the file. To expand the collapsed section (such as “Devices and drives” under “this PC”), select it and press the Right arrow button.

To select a file or folder in the directory, start typing its name. For example, when you are in the C: \ directory and you type “Win”, File Explorer will select the “Windows” directory.

To go to the first or last file in the directory, press the Home or End button.

To open the “Up” directory, press Alt + Up arrow. To go back and forward, press Alt + left arrow and Alt + right arrow.

If you need to refresh the folder and view the updated content, press F5.


Type Directories and Search

To focus the location bar at the top of the window, press Ctrl + L or Alt + D. You can then type the address (such as “C: \ Users”) and press Enter to go there.

To focus the search bar, press Ctrl + F or Ctrl + E. You can then type a search phrase and press Enter.

Selecting Many Files

To select a file range, hold down the Shift key and use the arrow keys. You can also press Ctrl + A to select all files in the current folder.

To select multiple files, press and hold the Ctrl key. Use the arrow keys to highlight other files or folders and press Space to add them to your selection. Release the Ctrl key when finished.


Change the File Name

To replace the file name with your keyboard, select it with the arrow keys (or by starting to type its name) and press F2. File Explorer will automatically highlight file names, not including the file extension. You can then type a new name for the file and press Enter. Press Escape to cancel renaming the file without saving any changes.

Traditional keyboard shortcuts for text editing jobs when editing file names, so you can press Ctrl + Left arrow to quickly navigate between words in file names that have multiple words.

Create a New Folder

To create a new folder in the current directory, press Ctrl + Shift + N. Type a name for the directory and press Enter.


Copy, Paste, and Delete Files

As usual, Ctrl + C copies the file, Ctrl + X cuts the file (removes it from the current location), and Ctrl + V attaches the file to the new location.

To cancel an action, press Ctrl + Z. To repeat the action you just canceled, press Ctrl + Y.

To delete the selected file, press Delete. To delete files permanently, skip the Recycle Bin, press Shift + Delete.

Open the Context Menu

To open the Context menu for the item you currently select, press Shift + F10. The Context Menu will open as if you right-clicked an item.

Navigate between options in the menu using the Up and Down arrow keys. Press Enter to select an option.

You can also press Alt + Enter to open the Properties window for the selected item, bypassing the context menu. Use the Tab, arrow and Enter key to use the Properties window. You can also press Alt along with the underlined character displayed in the Properties window to activate the options.

For example, the “Advanced” button appears as “Advanced …” with “d” underlined. This means you can press Alt + D to activate it.


Look at the Preview and Detail Panel

To open and close the preview pane, which shows you a preview of the currently selected file, press Alt + P.

To open and close the details pane, which displays details about the selected file, press Alt + Shift + P.

Launch and close Windows

To open a new File Explorer window, press Ctrl + N. To close the current File Explorer window, press Ctrl + W.


Find More Keyboard Shortcuts

For further assistance, press Alt and release. You will see letters appear above the buttons on the ribbon. You can press Alt along with any letter displayed here to activate the key. For example, Alt + F opens the File menu.

If you press Alt + H, Alt + S, or Alt + V to select the Home, Share, or View tab, you will see a list of keyboard shortcuts for actions in that section of the ribbon.


As usual in Windows applications, you can also repeatedly press the Tab key to scroll between parts of the interface, using the arrow keys and the Enter key to navigate and activate the buttons. Press Shift + Tab to rotate in reverse. For example, with the main content panel selected, you can press Shift + Tab to focus the left sidebar, use the arrow keys to select a folder, and press Enter to open it.

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