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Windows Vista hints and tips

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Easier file selections

Open an Explorer window in Windows Vista and you'll see a list of the files it contains. Sometimes you will want to select multiple files in order to perform some operation. For example, you might want to get rid of the junk on the disk and select the backups, temporary files or other items you no longer need. Or you might want to select a group of photos for backing up to a CD, DVD or external disk. Whatever the reason for wanting to select multiple files, you should know the different ways of achieving this in Explorer windows. There isn't a best way and the method you choose will depend on the circumstances.

To select all the files and folders in an Explorer just hold down the Ctrl key and press A. If the files you want to select are in order in List or Details views, then click the first file to select it, hold down the Shift key and click the last one. Sometimes you'll find that you want most files, but not all of them. If you have pressed Ctrl+A or Shift+clicked to select a group of files, but there are some that you don't want, hold down the Ctrl key and click on them. They will then be subtracted from the selection. The Ctrl key is actually used to select or deselect individual items and it is useful when the files you want to select are not adjacent to each other so you can use the Shift+click shortcut. If you want say, the 1st, 5th, 15th and 18th items in the window then click the first and then Ctrl+click the others to add them to the selection.

Sometimes the mouse can be used to select files by clicking and dragging a box around them. You can also click a file and then hold down the Shift key while pressing the cursor up and down keys. This selects files either backward or forward from the starting point.

All these methods of selecting files are exactly the same as with Windows XP, but here's a trick that's specific to Vista:Explorer checkboxes Click the Organize button and then choose Folder and Search Options from the menu that drops down. Select the View tab and scroll down the list of advanced settings. (Actually, they aren't particularly advanced.)

Tick the option labelled Use check boxes to select items. Click OK to apply the new setting. Select List or Details from the Views menu (the technique works with all views, but it is easiest to see the effect in Details or List). You'll see a tick box next to the Name header at the top of the file/folder listing in the Explorer window.

Click it and tick boxes will appear next to all the items in the window indicating that you have selected everything. Clear the tick box next to Names to clear your selection. Now as the mouse moves over a file or folder you will see a tick box appear next to it. You can click the tick box to select the item. Some people may find that it's easier to select files and folders using tick boxes. Try it and see.

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