Windows Explorer in Windows 7 has been revamped a bit by Microsoft to display helpful shortcut links in a sidebar by default. The libraries are displayed there for instance as well as the user's favorite folders and the drives that are connected to the PC. There you also find network drives that you may have access to.
It is possible to customize that display either by adding a new favorite location to the sidebar listing (by dragging and dropping the folder there), or by adding a new library that you can create easily using built-in tools or third-party software.
There is also a third option that does not become apparent to most Windows 7 users. It is possible to change the configuration so that additional links are displayed on the sidebar in Windows Explorer.
The two prominent additions of this configuration change are links to the control panel and recycle bin.
The left side shows the standard display of Windows Explorer with the categories favorites, libraries, homegroup, computer and network, while the right screenshots shows the extended display with all folders shown.
The right folder structure has changed as well if you look closely as Desktop now makes up the root of nearly every folder with the exception of the favorite links which are displayed separately.
What this means is that you can click on the arrow next to desktop to hide all entries but the favorite links in the sidebar.
It is really simply to display the control panel and recycle bin in Windows Explorer. All that needs to be done is to open an Explorer window, click on Tools > Folder Options and check the Show all folders box under Navigation Pane.
The new display mode is automatically visible after exiting the configuration window. Links to the control panel can be useful, but you need to consider that they need space to be displayed. If you have lots of drives, network folders or favorites listed here, they may increase the place so that you may need to scroll to access certain items displayed in the sidebar.
Note: Microsoft changed the process slightly in newer versions of Windows.
If you run Windows 10, you have to perform the following steps instead:
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