To begin a new (and hopefully, continuous) series of articles dedicated towards getting the most out of Windows 7, this week’s tip will be quite simple. Of course, there’s many ways in which users can select files to transfer to another folder, drive, etc. There’s using the CTRL + Mouse Click and selecting individual files, the SHIFT and hold to select multiple files, simply using your mouse to select files via dragging the selection box around the applicable files, or some in-between method.

All of these features have been included in Windows since the very early days (though, not every one of these features has been present since Windows 1.0 shipped 25 years ago). However, there’s a newer, and less known feature where files can be selected very easily via clicking checkboxes located in the upper-left hand corner of the file or folder. This feature was originally designed for Tablet users and has been available only since Windows Vista.

Because of its tablet PC roots, however, this feature comes pre-enabled on all tablet PCs in Windows Vista and Seven, but not on non-Tablet PCs. Therefore, if you’re using a normal PC (i.e. non-touch or pen-enabled PC) as most of us are, the feature will appear to be missing. Fear not, a simple click of a checkbox (no pun intended) will enable this feature. Here’s how. These steps were designed around Windows Seven, and should work for Windows Vista, though I haven’t fully tested it. Now, let’s get started.

Open up Computer via the Start Menu or simply Windows Key + E. Click Organize and then Folder and search options. In the dialog box that appears click on the View tab and scroll down until you find “Use checkboxes to select items” and check it if it isn’t already checked.

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Once set, you should be able to select files and folders via the little checkbox in the upper-left corner when mousing over the file or folder:

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That’s it. I’ve found using the checkboxes can sometimes make selecting files a bit easier, especially if you want a mouse only solution. Of course, it can be nerve racking if you accidentally “miss” a file and have to start over. Ultimately, this is one of my more appreciated and forgotten features of Windows 7. I’ll write a new Windows 7 Tip either on a daily, weekly or an ‘as I feel’ basis.

Jason Tierney – November 21, 2010