Use Windows' sorting options to find just the right file

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One of the biggest pains of using a PC is rooting around the file system to find very specific information.

Over the years, Microsoft has made it easier to find files with enhanced search capabilities for finding that one Word document, photo, or video you need. Search is great when you're looking for a specific file by name, but sometimes you don't care about words. Sometimes, you're looking for the largest video file in your collection, or the most recently modified Word document in your OneDrive folder.

That's where File Explorer's View menu comes in handy.


Windows 8's View menu. 

By default, File Explorer lists your files and folders in ascending alphabetical order from A to Z. But let's say you want to group all the files in your Documents folder a more helpful way—say, so you can see how many spreadsheets you have. 

At the top of Windows 8's File Explorer window, click on View > Sort by > Type. (Windows 7 users can view the sort menu by right-clicking in an empty part of the folder window.) If you have a lot of folders you won't see much of a difference at first since, File Explorer always lists folders before loose files.

Scroll down, however, and you'll see all your files grouped by their file type such as HTML, text, Excel, Word, XLS, PDF, and so on.

Now you can quickly scroll down to the spreadsheet section to find what you're looking for. To revert File Explorer back to a straight alphabetical list just click View > Sort by > Name.

Some of the options lend themselves well to more productive sorting. File Explorer provides view options for date modified, size, date created, who created the file, and reverse alphabetical order, for example—all of which can help you put your finger on very specific files.

So the next time you're looking for a file and searching by name just won't do, give File Explorer's View menu a shot.

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