When you press F8 what exactly happens? This should do the trick IMO.
The panel comes up, but it "floats" and it's movable. I want it to be "docked" on the left side of the screen, like it is on my laptop. It is a preference? I can't find it anywhere!!!
Are you wanting to dock the EXPANDED files panel or the normal one? If the latter, you would just drag it to the side where you want it to be docked, and when you see the visual aid (the dark border appear along the side of the document pane, drop it. You can't dock the expanded one I don't think.
The normal files panel. It's not in expanded view. No matter where I drag it, it does't "attach" itself to anything to "dock" it.
Change the layout from default "Designer" to "Coder." (Dropdownis at top right to the left of the search box.)
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1. First, minimize the file panel by clicking in the dark bar at the very top of the file panel (the one that has a little arrow on the right side), which will make the file panel tiny (no file names will be shown). Unless you have previously removed assets and snippets by dragging their tabs out and closing them, the tiny file panel will be attached to the asset panel and snippets panel, so you will be minimizing all of these at once.
2. Next, drag the file panel to the level that has tabs saying, Code, Split, Design.
3. Then drag the file panel to either the far left of the screen or far right of the screen, which will cause it to dock.
4. Finally, click the tiny arrow on the top right of the dark bar of the file panel; this will expand the file panel again so that you can see your file names. It will also expand the assets panel and the snippets panel if they are attached.
This drove me nuts. What fixed it for me was setting Window -> Workspace Layout -> Expanded.
When this was set to "Compact" the files window always floats for overlapping.