How to Make a Folder File List from the Windows Right-Click Context Menu


Have you ever wanted to make a list of all the files in a folder? If you have, you discovered that this is a feature that is missing in Windows Explorer. Of course, you can use the command line to do this or download and install some extra software but there is an easier way.

Print Directory added to context menuThe simple way is to add the capacity to print a folder file list from the right-click context menu of a given folder. Microsoft describes the procedure at this link  and provides a "Fix-it" file that will add the desired command to all folder context menus. I have tried running the Fix-it file in Windows XP Professional and Windows 7 64-bit and it worked with no problems. A command “Print Directory Listing” is added to the right-click context menu of folders (directories). An example of a modified context menu is shown in the figure on the left.

Whatever printer is designated as the default for your system will be used. Note that this need not be a hardware printer. Printer drivers exist for creating files in certain formats such as Adobe PDF or Microsoft XPS. Instead of a paper list you could create a list as a PDF file or other type of file format if you have a driver that you can designate as the default printer. Changing default printers is very easy so this method also provides a way to create files that list the contents of a folder.

There you have it- paper or file, a list of the contents of a folder in just two clicks.

This tip was inspired by a question from reader John Lane.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's and tutorials, including  a computer education website and a site for learning about the command line.

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I have read a number of posts on the web that describe this tip for printing directory lists. However, it is the only one (including the Microsoft Fixit link) that points out that the list will automatically be printed to the default printer. I learned this the hard way after I installed the Fixit with the intention of printing the list to a PDF file. I assumed—incorrectly—that I would be offered the option to select the printer. Instead, when I clicked on the "Print Directory Listing" command in the context menu of a particularly long folder directory, the listing went directly to my default printer, resulting in a waste of many sheets of paper and ink.

If only this simple information Vic included here had appeared in any of the other articles on the web I read earlier—or if I had checked TechSupportAlert earlier—I could have avoided an unnecessary waste of much paper and ink. Good job, Vic!