What is Windows Explorer and Why Does It Matter?

When I mention using “Windows Explorer” in class, I often find myself in a sea of blank looks or furrowed brows, particularly by information workers or management who are not fluent in the language of computers.

For those that speak geek,  this description makes perfect sense:


For those that don’t, here’s my attempt to explain to explain what the heck I’m talking about, and why it matters to you:

Think of Windows Explorer as a portal or cellar door into the bowels and brains of your computer. Inside  you will find a sea of folders and files that the computer requires to function. The entrance, once well lit and easily accessible, was later hidden – and for good reason. Because unless you know what you’re doing, guess what you end up with?


Haphazardly deleting bits and pieces of “useless” files and folders is akin to poking a hole in your lower gut, or worse – giving your computer a lobotomy.

How do I know this, you ask? When I was a youth I once took it upon myself to carelessly clean out all the “junk”  that I decided were cluttering up the joint. My computer subsequently had a meltdown.


Now older and wiser, I treat my adventures in computing like I do backpacking – with thoughtful planning and thorough research. And when it doubt ask an expert!

So, why do you care about Explorer?

Well, for starters, the next time someone instructs/suggests you open “it” with Windows Explorer, you won’t end up here, screaming “why no match-y?!”:


And if they say “Explorer” instead,  you’ll know that there are two options – one a browser used to explore the internet, the other the elusive “Windows Explorer” used  to explore the files living within your device and all devices attached to your machine:


Remember folks, Windows Explorer : File Explorer =  poh-tay-toe : poh-tah-toe =  same thang.

The other reason you may give a hoot is that the Windows “File” Explorer opens up a world of possibilities in Microsoft SharePoint, when you’re ready to free yourself from the rigid shackles of a folder structure (explanation coming soon!).


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