How Does the Windows 10 Ribbon Work? - dummies

How Does the Windows 10 Ribbon Work?

By Andy Rathbone

The Windows 10 desktop has more menu items than an Asian restaurant. To keep everybody’s minds on computer commands instead of seaweed salad, Windows places menus inside a tab-filled Ribbon that lives atop every folder.

The Ribbon's tabs.
The Ribbon’s tabs.

The Ribbon’s tabs each offer different options. To reveal the secret options, click any tab — Share, for example. The Ribbon quickly changes, as shown in the following figure, presenting all your options related to sharing a file.

Click any Ribbon tab to see its associated commands.
Click any Ribbon tab to see its associated commands.

Just as restaurants sometimes run out of specials, a window sometimes isn’t capable of offering all its menu items. Any unavailable options are grayed out, like the Print option here. (Because you can’t print music files, that option is grayed out.)

If you accidentally click the wrong tab on the Ribbon, causing the wrong commands to leap onto the screen, simply click the tab you really wanted. A forgiving soul, Windows displays your newly chosen tab’s contents instead.

You needn’t know much about the Ribbon because Windows automatically places the correct buttons atop each program. Open your Music folder, for example, and the Ribbon quickly spouts a new Play tab for listening sessions.

If a button’s meaning isn’t immediately obvious, hover your mouse pointer over it; a little message explains the button’s raison dêtre. Translations for the most common tabs and buttons are in the following list:

  • File: Found along every Ribbon’s left edge, this tab offers little in rewards: It gives you options for opening new windows; returning to popular locations; and, oddly enough, deleting evidence of folders you’ve peeked inside.

  • Home: Found on every folder’s Ribbon, the Home tab usually brings pay dirt, so every folder opens showing this tab’s options. The Home tab offers tools to select, cut, copy, paste, move, delete, or rename a folder’s items.

  • Share: As the name implies, this tab offers ways to let you share a folder’s contents with other people, whether by burning the contents to a CD, e-mailing them, or sharing them on a network.

  • View: Click here to change how files appear in the window. In your Pictures folder, for example, choose Extra Large Icons to see larger thumbnails of your photos.

  • Manage: Found only on special folders, this general-purpose tab shows customized ways to handle your folder’s items. Atop a folder full of pictures, for example, the Manage tab offers a Slide Show button, as well as buttons to rotate skewed photos or turn them into desktop backgrounds.

Don’t like that thick Ribbon hogging an inch of space atop your window? If you’re pressed for space, axe the Ribbon by clicking the little upward-pointing arrow next to the blue question mark icon in the Ribbon’s upper-right corner. Click it again to bring back the Ribbon.