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If I've got a file (or files) selected in Windows Explorer, the only way I've found to "unselect" them is click with the mouse on some empty space.

I thought Esc would do this, but it doesn't. Also changing focus with Tab or Shift + Tab doesn't work; the file(s) are still selected even if focus goes to the address bar for instance.

Does anyone know of a keyboard shortcut to do this?

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I was thinking of implementing a Unselect All feature in an app that I'm developing and I was thinking Ctrl+Shift+A would make a lot of sense. So far I haven't found any examples of other apps using this shortcut though. What do you think? – jpierson Aug 23 '10 at 14:31
up vote 43 down vote accepted

You can use Ctrl+Arrow to move among selected items. Ctrl+Space will select/deselect. (Space alone will select but not deselect.)

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Perfect, thanks! – Adam Neal Dec 4 '09 at 17:45

As far as I know there isn't a keyboard shortcut for Invert Selection in Windows Explorer, and unfortunately Select All doesn't toggle the selection.

So if you really want an all keyboard solution:

Ctrl + A, Alt + E, I

If you're used to Emacs multi-key bindings then this shouldn't bother you. :)

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+1 for creativity :) – Adam Neal Dec 7 '09 at 17:56

I also found another quick solution: pressing F5 will refresh the folder and deselect single or multiple items.

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Did not deselect a single selection, but ctrl+space as suggested in another answer does work. – anjdreas Oct 5 '12 at 12:23

Pulling from the other solutions here, the method that works every time is Ctrl+A then F5. You can sort of roll your hand up the keyboard to do this.

Even though it's an extra step over just Ctrl+Spacebar when deselecting one item or just F5 when more than one item is selected, the consistency and not having to think each time will save time in the long run, I think.

Note: If you are pressing F5, then it makes no difference whether you press CTRL-A first or don't. CTRL-A is Select All, F5 is Refresh. Therefore, if F5 is acceptable for the functionality you're looking for, there is no benefit to pressing CTRL-A prior.

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ctrl + alt + space for window 7 = deselect ( PC )

After you select a folder then ctrl + arrow = multi selection ( not Yet )

Then, ctrl + alt + space = select another folder.

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just ctrl+space is enough and that has been answered more than 4 years ago – Lưu Vĩnh Phúc Jun 13 '14 at 14:25

To uncheck all files in Windows 10: Cntl+Space (if only one file is checked) F5 (if multiple files are checked)

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Alt V then R will also do the trick -- guess same as F5, but one more way to do it.

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Here is one more possible answer. It is a combination of 3 keys.

Press the keyboard-right-click Key. Press r (properties). Press Escape.

USER WARNING: This should right click the item go to properties and exit the properties menu. Make sure this is what is happening, and that r isn't a key that ends up deleting your item or doing anything else.

Other than that, ctrl + space is the best answer i have seen here so far.

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I could not find any documentation on microsoft websites regarding Ctrl+space for deselection of items. However on an unrelated website there is documentation regarding WinSCP a free SFTP/ftp/scp client for windows. It uses some shortcuts that are also applicable to the windows OS, such as ctrl+space for file selection/deselect. However ctrl+space does work, as stated above.

Anyways, the only different answer so far i could offer is,

press key Delete to delete your file, then press ctrl+z. to bring it back. Now you have unselected it.

USER WARNING: MAY HAVE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. Such as if you have configured files for permanent deletion and may not be brought back easily, as is the case in some external HDD's. USE ANSWER WITH CAUTION.

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This is a bit treacherous, to say the least. On network drives, for instance, deletion is permanent! – Ben N Feb 14 at 20:58

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