The Windows Vista Navigation Pane

Windows Vista places your most frequently used items in the Navigation Pane. The Navigation Pane, shown in the following figure, is found along the left edge of every folder.

View Vista’s Navigation Pane.
View Vista’s Navigation Pane.

The Navigation Pane contains two main parts. The top half contains a list of words called the Favorite Links section; beneath them awaits a mysterious door called Folders. Here’s a more detailed description of both halves of the Navigation Pane:

  • Favorite Links: Not to be confused with the Favorite links in Internet Explorer, the Favorite Links in the Navigation Pane are words serving as clickable shortcuts to your most frequently accessed folders inside your PC:

  • Documents: Click this shortcut to return straight to the mother of all folders, your Documents folder.

  • Recently Changed: You guessed it: Clicking this shortcut lists every file that’s changed in the past 30 days. They’re sorted by date, with the most recent file at the top, making it a handy way to locate your latest work.

  • Pictures: This shortcut opens your Pictures folder, living quarters to all your digital photos.

  • Music: Yep, this shortcut jumps straight to your Music folder, where a double-click on a song starts it playing through your PC’s speaker.

  • Searches: Click this shortcut to see Vista’s collection of Saved Searches: Things you’ve searched for in the past. Several handy searches already live here: every piece of e-mail you’ve received in the last seven days, for example.

  • Public: Drop a file in here to share it with everybody using your PC.

  • Folders: The Navigation Pane’s hidden door hides behind a single word called Folders. See the word Folders at the bottom of the Navigation Pane? Click anywhere on that folder bar, and the Navigation Pane displays a “branching tree” view of your folders. It’s an easy way to jump to any folder or drive on your computer.

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