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shotglassHey, welcome back to another Windows 10 Tips blog post.  I hope you read my last post, Stop Those Notifications!

I have mentioned in previous posts, with most shots, after about a handful, things will start to get a little hazy.  But, with Windows 10 Shots (this new series of posts), the hope would be that the opposite would happen.  That clarity and insight into the highly anticipated release would free your mind to great new features and power of Windows 10.

Probably one of the most important things your computer does for you is allow you to work with files.  It allows you to create, edit and share these files so you can send love letters, save pictures, create slideshows, do presentations, etc.  However, have you ever wondered how much time you spend actually trying to find these files?  The answer is a simple, “probably too much.”

Well, in Windows 10, there are a number of great ways to find the files you are looking for:  Quick Folders, Quick Access, Frequent Folders, Recent Files, Search and Cortana.  Let’s take a little time to go over each of these quickly and turn you into a quick file access master.

Start Menu

Do you remember when Windows 8 was first introduced and how often you heard that people weren’t pleased with the new Start Screen.  They were screaming for the old start menu, people were creating third party applications that would bring it back and even others were abandoning the new OS all together.  All for easier access to their pictures, videos, documents, etc.

Well, with Windows 10, you get the best of both worlds.  Not only do you get a start screen with pinned Live tiles, but you get a menu that gives you quick access to important folders such as Videos, Pictures and Documents.  For example, notice that the start screen (that can also be resized to look more like a menu but I set an option which allows it to be full screen) has both a menu at the top and an application button on the bottom (along with more goodies).


Once you select the menu button you will notice the following areas are also displayed: Most Used applications, Suggested applications, a set of Quick Folders and access to the File Manager.  So, finding applications and files like pictures, videos, etc. are easy to access.


Most Used and Suggested

Most Used and Suggested applications are pretty straight forward, so we won’t discuss them.

Quick Folder List

Notice there are a list of folders that you can quickly access to get to common locations on your system.  The quick folder list can contain the following:  File Explorer, Settings, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos, HomeGroup, Network and Personal Folder.

You might be asking yourself, “What if I want to select which ones get displayed?  Well, Windows 10 has an answer for that.

  1. Select the Windows key.
  2. Type in the word settings and select the Settings application from the search results.where3
  3. Select Personalization.where4
  4. Select Start from the tabs on the left.where5
  5. Scroll down to the bottom and click on Choose which folders appear on Start.where6
  6. Select which folders you want to display on your start screen menu.where7
  7. You should now see the folders you selected on your Start screen/menu.

Quick Access

Okay, now that we can quickly get to a few of your most used folders you should be able to get to a number of files quickly.  However, what about files that aren’t in the Quick Folder list?  Can we further customize what folders we want to access regularly?  The answer is yes, but not using the Start screen/menu.

If you open up File Explorer, you will notice on the left hand side of the application, there is a Quick Access section.


By default, Windows 10 will try to be smart and put folders that it thinks you might find important into this section.  Like most recently accessed folders (green arrows below).


You might have noticed that a number of my own folders are pinned (red arrows above) to quick access section.  How did I do that?  It is actually pretty easy.

Find a folder that has the files in it that you access frequently.  Right click the folder and select Pin to Quick access.


Bang!  It is that easy.  You should now see the folder in your Quick access list.  Now you should be able to quickly get to those files you use regularly.


If you want to remove something from the Quick access list, you simply right click the folder you want to unpin and select Unpin from Quick access.


Frequent Folders

This is just a quick note, but you can easily see the list of pinned and recently accessed folders in Quick access by simply selecting the Quick access header.  And viewing the list of Frequent folders in the details part of the screen.


Recent Files

Hitting up your most recently used folder is pretty nice.  It can get you to a number of files quickly.  However, what if you just want to quickly get to a recent file, not a folder.

Once again, Quick access has you covered.  Just like viewing Frequent folders in Quick access, you can view your most recent files by selecting the Quick access headerScroll past or close the Frequent folders list and you will see a Recent files list.


Personally, this is one of my favorite ways to find files that I have been currently working on quickly.


Okay, cool … now we have a way to quickly get to our most popular folder and recent files, but what about a folder or file whose name you forgot?  And…it isn’t in your frequent lists?

Windows 10 to the rescue!  Well, okay, so, this has been around for a long time and not a new Windows 10 feature, but a feature that a lot of people forget about, which is the built in search capabilities in File Manager.  If you know some of the name and a possible location (which could be your entire drive) Windows can search for it.

Open file manager

Navigate to the location you want to search.  You can search your whole drive, but remember that it will take a lot longer.  So, if you can narrow it down a little, it is to your advantage.


Once you have navigated to the location to search, in the top right hand side of File Manager, you will see a search box.  Start typing your search, and the results will filter and highlight the matching text within the file name.


This search technique has saved me a number of times when trying to find document with important information that I haven’t used in a long time.


Another really cool new feature in Windows 10 is the ability to ask your personal assistant for help.  Wait, what?  You didn’t know you had a personal assistant?  Well, you do, and she is ready to help you out.

Cortana has a couple of really nice capabilities to find recent documents, pictures and presentations.

Open Cortana by either clicking the Cortana icon on your taskbar or selecting the Windows key.  You could also choose to speak to Cortana by selecting the Windows Key + C or, if you have ‘Hey Cortana” enabled, you can speak, “Hey Cortana.”

Start typing/speaking using the following examples:

Type/Speak “show me photos from last week”


Notice that the results are show from both OneDrive and the current device.  You also have the option of selecting other places like File Explorer, etc.

Type/Speak “Show me the last document I worked on”


And for those who are always working on presentations:

Type/Speak “show me my presentations”


What do you think?  Is Cortana helpful for finding some of your files?  Well, I can safely say that Cortana will continue to increase its capabilities over time.  So, don’t be surprised if she gets even better at finding your files.

If you liked this post, please share it with others and don’t forget to come back for a new feature focused Windows 10 Shot.  Because remember, just like drinking, “1 shot”, probably won’t affect someone, but multiple shots, well that changes everything.