Control the Explorer Bar's Contents
In addition to the list of Tasks and the Folder list, you have other options for the left side of the Explorer Window, otherwise known as the Explorer Bar. When you choose the View menu and then click the Explorer Bar selection, you can choose from one of five Explorer bars: Search, Favorites, Media, History, and Folders. (If you see other choices on this menu, they've been placed there by other applications.)
The selected Explorer bar will appear, replacing the Task pane (if you are using the Task pane). Figure 7-7 shows how Explorer can help you quickly locate your favorite Internet shortcuts.
Figure 7-7. The Favorites bar appears on the left in Windows Explorer.
The contents of your Favorites menu become a part of your user profile and will even travel with you from computer to computer when using a Roaming Profile.
Even though you normally build the Favorites folder by saving locations from Internet Explorer, you can use shortcuts to access other locations as well.
In fact, this is another way to attack the problem identified in the previous chunk. Say you frequently access a folder that is buried deep in the directory structure of the drive. You can create a shortcut to that folder in your Favorites folder using the Favorites menu and clicking Add to Favorites. Give the shortcut a name, and then you can use it like any other saved shortcuts you have.
With Explorer open, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+I to toggle on and off the Favorites. This shortcut can save you a couple mouse clicks when navigating to your Favorites.
When you select the Search bar, you will also see the Search Assistant. Choosing the Search bar has the same effect as selecting the Search option from the Start menu, with this exception: the Search Assistant, when launched from Windows Explorer, automatically restricts its search to the currently selected folder. This can make searching much more efficient, especially when searching through today's 200+ gigabyte hard drives.
To close a selected Explorer bar, click its Close button (the little "x") or the Back button on the Standard toolbar. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+E.
Like its predecessors, Windows XP's version of Explorer also includes a status bar. The status bar, when it's on, displays useful information about a selected file or folder, such as the number of objects selected, the total size of the selected object or objects, and the source of the selection (such as My Computer or Local Intranet). You'll find this information at the bottom of the Explorer window. Unlike previous versions, however, this status bar is not visible by default. To display it, choose the View menu and then click the Status Bar.