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Is there a Windows 7 Explorer keyboard shortcut to set focus to files/folders/content area (depicted below)?

This has bothered me for so long... I want to set my explorer window's focus to the files pane (shown below). What's the most efficient way to do that with a keyboard?

enter image description here

Here's what I've been doing:
- Tab / Shift+Tab to move focus through interactive window elements until it looks like a selection rectangle appears over one of the files in my window.
- Alt+V, Alt+D to change appearance setting of a folder contents' icons. Doesn't always work, depending on what's selected at the time.

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4  
+1 for the drawing :) –  HackToHell Jul 7 '12 at 3:57
1  
Props for this very good question. Whoever changed this behavior at the UX department of microsoft is a very very bad person. –  cherouvim Sep 7 '13 at 16:26

6 Answers 6

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can use AutoHotkey to move the keyboard focus to the file pane. In this example, I use the hotkey Win+Space:

#IfWinActive ahk_class CabinetWClass ; Windows Explorer
    #Space::
        ControlFocus, DirectUIHWND3, A
        SendInput, {Space}
        return
#IfWinActive

See Also:

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Thanks to iglvzx for the AutoHotkey solution. Unfortunately, it didn't always work for me, because sometimes the focus would be on the first column header in detail view. Pressing the space there causes the contents to be resorted. To fix that problem, I wound up changing the code to use a mouse click instead. Here is the new code:

#IfWinActive ahk_class CabinetWClass ; Windows Explorer

   #Space::

  ; Get coordinates of content control within explorer window
  ControlGetPos, x, y, w, h, DirectUIHWND3, ahk_class CabinetWClass

  ; Offset to get past column headers in Details View
  x += 100
  y += 30

  ; Send a mouse click to change focus to content window
  SendInput, {Click %x%, %y%}

  return

#IfWinActive
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Try Ctrl+Tab, that should do it.

For the record the terminology you are referring to is called "Property Tab Navigation" ...

Properties control

CTRL+TAB/CTRL+SHIFT+TAB: Move through the property tabs
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wow. this worked. never would have thought. but the (usless) search webpages box kills it. –  naxa Jul 19 '13 at 13:06

Two solutions I use: -

The first is from this Microsoft support thread where they recommend a third party app which focuses on the window under the mouse if you use the scroll wheel - which is rather handy now considering the segmented approach to Explorer.

And the other, keyboard only, is the Alt+D hotkey to focus the address bar, then press Shift+Tab twice to bring the focus to the file list (the first Shift+Tab focuses on the sorting headings). A third Shift+Tab sends focus to the folder pane.

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I came here because I'm looking for asolution too.

The fastest way I found to do that was to go back and forth: use ALT + UP and then ENTER. Almost always works.

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A compromise...
Hide the menu along the top of the Explorer window. Go to:
Tools -> "Folder Options..." -> "View" tab -> Deselect "Always show menus"

Now focus can be moved from the left and right panes (shown below) using Tab & Shift+Tab.

enter image description here

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