How to Make Windows Explorer Open the Way You Want

It is possible to create a shortcut that will open Windows Explorer headed by whatever folder you wish. This is a trick that has been useful ever since Windows 95 and it comes up frequently.

Windows XP

In Windows XP, the default setting is for Windows Explorer to start with “My Documents” at the head. Here is how to get Windows Explorer to start at the C: drive.

  1. Right-click on an empty spot on the Desktop.
  2. In the context menu, choose “New- Shortcut”.
  3. In the space labeled “Type the location of the item”, enter:
       explorer.exe /root,c:
    The syntax must be exact so watch the commas and spaces.
  4. Click “Next” and give the shortcut a name.
  5. Click “Finish”.

Put the shortcut on the Quick Launch Bar or wherever it is convenient.

Windows 7

In Windows 7, the default is to open Windows Explorer at “Libraries”. The same procedure given above can be used to create a shortcut to open at the C: drive.

Open in (My) Computer

If you prefer that Windows Explorer start with (My) Computer, change step 3 above to:

3.  In the space labeled “Type the location of the item”, enter:
       explorer.exe /root,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}

Be very careful to copy the above exactly. Copy and paste is the safest way to go.

Open Anywhere

If you prefer still another location, then use:
   explorer.exe /root,your-folder

Note that “your-folder” generally requires the full pathname, drive and all.

A tip related to this was suggested by Robin.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs a Windows blog called The PC Informant and also operates a computer education website.

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Comments

by Stuart Filler (not verified) on 26. April 2012 - 14:15  (92636)

Windows Explorer takes me to the folder I'm seeking but fails to center it. The folder I'm seeking is at the bottom of the tree or list at the left or below the bottom so that I need to scroll down. I scroll down, then click on the triangle to see the subfolder that I need. When I indicate I want Dropbox > Writerandson > Minutes, the Minutes folder should appear on the left CENTERED rather than at or below the windowsill.
Stuart 4-26-2012

by Bill Maxim (not verified) on 17. November 2011 - 19:07  (83445)

Just type this, it will display into the C: driver and list all your other hard drives. (this is using windows vista)

explorer.exe /computer,c:

by Barry Karas (not verified) on 16. October 2010 - 15:05  (59633)

16/Oct/2010 10:56

Does this work with Firefox? If "yes", what should be done?

Thank you.

by v.laurie on 16. October 2010 - 15:41  (59636)

The tip does not apply to browsers. It is for Windows Explorer, not Internet Explorer. Microsoft's way of naming things can be confusing.

by TedinOz (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 23:00  (59547)

All very interesting...if you really want to use Explorer.

by ruudster101 (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 17:51  (59531)

How about hotkeys >>>windows+E....and my computer opens

by v.laurie on 14. October 2010 - 18:07  (59532)

If you are happy with the "My Computer" view, that's also a good way to go.

by TA (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 13:52  (59518)

Win 7 Pro, 64 bit

R-click on desktop, New, Shortcut, and paste this into the box:

C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE /n,/e,c:\folder\

Works great.

Too bad Win 7 Explorer stinks.

by v.laurie on 14. October 2010 - 16:54  (59527)

In Windows 7 or Vista, the C: drive is not necessarily where the Windows folder is located.

by sbwhiteman on 14. October 2010 - 13:27  (59516)

How about (in Explorer) just right-clicking on the folder you need a shortcut to and choosing "Send To\Desktop (create shortcut)"?

by Mike Carter (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 13:19  (59515)

Good tip and the shortcut works well. Something I've tried to figure out for years is this. How can you open Windows with a shortcut so that it's in Folders view, that is with the folders on the left, vertical bar in the center, and folder contents on the right?

Small matter but it bugs me.

by froidhiver (not verified) on 16. October 2010 - 23:41  (59649)

mike, it's easy and works with every version of windows: first, you adjust your windows explorer as you want (folder view, vertical bar, etc.) and then go to the "folder options" in the menu at the top of the explorer and choose the tab about "display" and press the "apply to every folders" button. Now every folder will have the same display....
I hope that it has answered your small wondering.... :)

by Nick Nielsen (not verified) on 15. October 2010 - 3:23  (59558)

Change the /root to /e. Instead of

explorer.exe /root,your-folder

enter

explorer.exe /e,your-folder

Hope this is what you are looking for.

by Sandra (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 18:54  (59536)

mike...i'm assuming you are using windows xp. have you tried to use explorer in c:\windows? the icon is shaped like a folder. i think that is what you are wanting ... if you use explorer.exe in c:\windows, that is equivalent my computer. the icon is shaped like a desktop computer. hope that helps.

by mseyf (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 13:18  (59514)

My prefered setting for XP is:

%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /n,/e,/root,,/select,c:\

Doesn't work so well in Vista/Win7 (Drat!)

by Joleca (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 13:54  (59519)

for Vista & Windows 7, use the following string (copy and paste):

%windir%\explorer.exe /n, /e, /select,c:\

You're changing "SystemRoot" to "windir" and removing the "/root" from the string

works like a charm.. have been using this one since Vista was first released..

by v.laurie on 14. October 2010 - 17:02  (59528)

The file explorer.exe is in the system path. Neither %SystemRoot% nor %windir% is necessary. By the way, the two environment variables are equivalent.

by dcardozo (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 12:14  (59510)

I do the same thing, but it's easier:

Right-click on an empty spot on the Desktop.
In the context menu, choose “New- Shortcut”.
In the space labeled “Type the location of the item”, enter:
c:\ (or c:\users, or whatever folder you want explorer to start in)
Click “Next” and give the shortcut a name.
Click “Finish”.
Put the shortcut on the Quick Launch Bar or wherever it is convenient.

I think I have been creating these shortcuts since 98 or so.
They still work in my win7 64bit.

by HarryO (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 13:17  (59513)

I have always used %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /e,/n,/select,c:\
to select my starting point.

Explorer [/n] [/e] [(,)/root,] [/select,]

/n Opens a new single-pane window for the default
selection. This is usually the root of the drive Windows
is installed on. If the window is already open, a
duplicate opens.

/e Opens Windows Explorer in its default view.

/root, Opens a window view of the specified object.

/select, Opens a window view with the specified folder, file or
application selected.

Examples:

Example 1: Explorer /select,C:\TestDir\TestApp.exe

Opens a window view with TestApp selected.

Example 2: Explorer /e,/root,C:\TestDir\TestApp.exe

This opens Explorer with C: expanded and TestApp selected.

Example 3: Explorer /root,\\TestSvr\TestShare

Opens a window view of the specified share.

Example 4: Explorer /root,\\TestSvr\TestShare,select,TestApp.exe

Opens a window view of the specified share with TestApp selected.

by v.laurie on 14. October 2010 - 16:47  (59526)

In order to keep the tip as simple as possible, I omitted defining all the switches. I have discussed the switches and their syntax in all their glory elsewhere (http://vlaurie.com/computers2/Articles/explorershortcuts.htm). However, most PC users do not need all the switches and can find them confusing. The tip works just fine as presented. Note that the file explorer.exe is in the system path and does not need %SystemRoot%. I have found over the years that simplicity is the best policy when presenting tips.

by dbareis (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 8:44  (59502)

It was useful until Windows 7 (or perhaps Vista) where it no longer works (at leat on 64 bit version) and like all Windows bugs will never be fixed..

by v.laurie on 14. October 2010 - 17:03  (59529)

Works fine in Windows 7 64-bit.

by Jason Shelbrock (not verified) on 14. October 2010 - 10:13  (59506)

works for me. Windows 7 ultimate 64 bit

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