Windows Explorer shares travel tips

A Feature Interview—with a Windows 7 feature!

Here at Microsoft we like to think of our features as genuine celebrities.They're busy, of course, but now and then they honor us with their presence here on campus. Today I have the good fortune of corralling fabled guide and on-demand traveler Windows Explorer.

"I'm all about the journey." Looking across the desk at me, Windows Explorer strokes a 4-day stubble, then leans back, stretching. "Getting there isn't half the fun. It's 99 percent of it."

Landing a one-on-one chat with the legendary figure has been a journey all its own, but here he is, peering around my office, taking in details. I notice he keeps looking at his watch, though, so I jump right into my questions.

JG: What are you looking at?
WE: I'm indexing. It helps me to help people to find their way.

JG: Huh. How did you get into the exploring business, anyway?
WE: I was called to it. Every time I wake up, I can't think of anything I'd rather do than be told where to go. So to speak.

JG: Does that get old, though? Do you ever want to tell them where to go?
WE: Well, I do want to tell them, sometimes, that they should use my search box – the one in a folder or library—instead of the Start menu's search box. Going back to ol' square one will work, but most of the time people are right there in the folder or library where they want to be. It's faster and easier to use my search box, the one at the upper right. And besides, I kind-of like the jolt it gives me.

Search box in folder or library
The search box in a folder or library

JG: Anything else people can do to help you be more fulfilled?
WE: Well, if it's good for me, it's good for them, yes? In this case, understanding indexes is good for us all. [*looks around some more*]. A file that's indexed is found faster—and faster still if the index is managed carefully. Oh, and the easiest way to make sure a file is indexed is to add it to a library.

JG: So, you've been called highly resourceful. What do you think makes you so special?
WE: I'm a person who knows where he is. I mean, just look at my address bar. It shows right where I am, and it lets people easily decide where they want me to go next. My address bar is brimming with links and even menus, of a sort, and sometimes it's easier than using my search box. You doubt me? Look here.

Address bar
The address bar

JG: How do you know when you've done well?
WE: Certainly not by the gratuities. But there is one way: Sometimes people save a search I helped with. This makes me all warm inside. And it probably saves them time later, too.

Saved searches
Saved searches are available from the navigation pane

JG: I've heard you have other special powers.
WE: Well, I can see the future—as it might be, and as it will be. I do this with my preview pane. People select a file, and I show 'em what they'll see if they open it. That's what might happen. When they select and see the file they want, and they do open it, then I've predicted what did happen. Get it?

Preview pane
Use the preview pane to see the contents of most files

JG: Frankly, I think that's a stretch.
WE: Yeah, well. Gotta go.

Suddenly it's over. Windows Explorer jumps out of the chair and ambles off into the sunset (the one in my wallpaper). I stare for a minute. Then I remember I need to find a couple of Excel spreadsheets for the boss. Another fulfillment opportunity for You-Know-Who.

Join me again soon for a chat with the unsung hero who protects us from evil Internet sites: that tireless and resourceful guardian, SmartScreen Filter.

Until then,

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