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Sick of Double-Clicking Icons? Here’s How to Turn on Single-Click in Windows

David Pogue
May 2, 2014

In some ways, a Windows File Explorer window is just like Internet Explorer, the Web browser. It has a Back button, an address bar, and so on.

If you enjoy this PC-as-browser effect, you can actually take it one step further. You can set up your PC so that one click, not two, opens an icon. It’s a strange effect that some people adore, that some find especially useful on touchscreens — and that others turn off as fast as their little fingers will let them.

Here’s how to set up this long-standing Windows feature in Windows 8 and later:

In any File Explorer window, on the View tab of the Ribbon, click Options. The Folder Options control panel opens. Turn on Single-click to open an item (point to select). Then indicate when you want your icons’ names turned into underlined links by selecting Underline icon titles consistent with my browser (that is, all icons’ names appear as links) or Underline icon titles only when I point at them. Click OK. The deed is done.

Now, if a single click opens an icon, you’re entitled to wonder how you’re supposed to select an icon (which you’d normally do with a single click). Take your pick:

• Point to it for about a half-second without clicking. (To make multiple selections, press the Ctrl key as you point to additional icons. And to drag an icon, just ignore all this pointing stuff — simply drag as usual.)

• Turn on the checkbox mode by going to View in the File Explorer window and checking Item check boxes.

Excerpted with permission from David Pogue’s “Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual” from O’Reilly Media.