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TL;DR: What does the refresh feature in Windows do?

I've seen it in Windows 7, Vista and XP but not in Linux (I dunno about a Mac). You have to right-click on the Desktop and hit E or click "Refresh" to use it.

Does it make your system faster or more responsive in any way? Refresh cache? Reload RAM?

I'm inclined to suspect that it's pointless and it's just there to avoid people releasing their anger in other ways, like the close button in lifts. Searching for "Windows refresh" just gave me a bucket load of posts about Windows 8's new Refresh feature. Refining that to "Windows 7 refresh" didn't help either.

Edit, for all you downvoters: yes, I realize the question may be dumb (<-- understatement); but you have got to realize that since childhood, this is what people around me assume and still think it does (I agree, they're not very technologically-competent people, but everyone from my family to my school's computer teacher and principal do this). And anyway, as a person whose only resources were limited to the people around me and Google (no one told to to RTFM then), I think I did a reasonably well job of researching and trying to find out the answer before posting the question here... <end of rant>

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"This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful." That's the tooltip on the downvote button. It does not say "This question is stupid." The question is clear and he tried to research it. I don't see a point in downvoting just because the question is misguided and a little... less than logical. I also don't see a way this question could be improved any more than Indrek already has. So unless we're trying to run the guy off for not being a "Power User" then maybe we should leave it alone. – Tanner Faulkner Oct 18 '12 at 15:58
@r.tanner.f - What on earth are you rambling about. If somebody wants to downvote an illogical question then let them, its a far better reason, then most people have when they downvote perfectly valid questions and answers for no reason. – Ramhound Oct 18 '12 at 16:33
@Ramhound You're free to disregard my comment. It's just my two cents on the downvotes to this question. – Tanner Faulkner Oct 18 '12 at 16:39
I feel so stupid... – YatharthROCK Oct 18 '12 at 18:28
@YatharthROCK I +1ed our question cuz I feel its good & genuine. SU & SO are very rude now, most questions don't even get answers - as on beta stage sites - the reason is because these ill people have poor physical health & it reflects in their behavior. TLDR you are not stupid :) – aim100k Jun 22 '15 at 13:29
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Refresh simply redraws the Desktop. So if you had new files that had been put into the desktop folder for instance, but were not yet appearing on the desktop, it would make them show.

This feature is pretty much there just to be consistent as the refresh feature was actually useful in Windows XP where Explorer didn't update itself on changes and in network drives which don't announce changes.

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This. It's the same as in elsewhere in Windows Explorer. It's mostly unnecessary in Vista and 7, though, unlike in XP which often failed to refresh the desktop or folder view by itself. – Indrek Oct 18 '12 at 15:27
That's it? That's so... disappointing. – YatharthROCK Oct 18 '12 at 15:30
I'm not sure what you expected. As Indrek pointed out, it has been that way for years. Pretty much every GUI interface uses "Refresh" to mean "Refresh whatever it is that you are showing me in this view" – EBGreen Oct 18 '12 at 15:32
@YatharthROCK If hitting Refresh in a browser refreshes the current web page, and in Windows Explorer it refreshes the current folder view, why would hitting Refresh on the desktop do anything else but, well, refresh the desktop? I don't mean to sound condescending, but did that really not follow logically from your existing computer experience? – Indrek Oct 18 '12 at 15:32
@Indrek Point, I guess my question is moot now. I kinda expected it to release held resources or refresh the RAM or something like that. Presumably as refresh also means to "re-energize" like "After drinking the lemonade, I felt refreshed". – YatharthROCK Oct 18 '12 at 15:36

Refreshing a folder or desktop causes the file listng to update, so you can see any changes that have happened recently. Usually Windows does this automatically, but sometimes it missses changes, especially on network drives, and you need to do it manually.

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