Use Shortcuts To Navigate Explorer Folders

by Tony Bradley [Published on 26 April 2005 / Last Updated on 26 April 2005]

Windows Explorer is a fairly functional tool for browsing files and folders and finding what you are looking for. But, depending on how large and how organized your hard drive is, it may take some time to sift through to the folder you really want. Using command line parameters, you can create desktop shortcuts that take you quickly to your most-used folders.

In Windows XP, the Windows Explorer utility is somewhat buried. You have to click on Start - All Programs - Accessories, and then Windows Explorer. I usually place a shortcut to Windows Explorer on my Quicklaunch toolbar or desktop as soon as I install Windows because I know I will use it fairly frequently and I don't want to drill through so many levels of menus to find it.

But, even with easy access to the Windows Explorer utility itself, there are certain folders which I frequently use that are buried mutliple levels down in the folder hierarchy due to the way I have organized my data. That means that I have to open a folder, then a sub-folder, then another sub-folder, etc., etc. just to get to information that I use on an almost daily basis.

That is, until I learned how to use the command-line to create desktop shortcuts that lead straight to my destination folder. Quick, simple and efficient. No more clicking and more clicking just to get to commonly used data.

At the command line, you can type "explorer" followed by the following switches to create a custom shortcut:

* /n - opens Explorer without a displaying folders in the lefthand pane. It still fills that space with links and information, but no folders.

* /e - opens Explorer with the Folders bar

* /root, {path or object} - the /root switch is followed by a comma and then the path to the directory you want to display or the Globally Unique Identifier (GUI) of the object you want to navigate to

To create a desktop shortcut for frequently used folders, right-click on the desktop and select New, then Shortcut. Type the command line syntax as shown above for the folder you want the shortcut to go to, supply a name for the shortcut, and click OK.

While I have provided my own wording and unique perspective on this trick, I got my inspiration from the O'Reilly book Windows XP Hacks, 2nd Edition. For a more detailed and thorough explanation, along with the GUI's for common system objects such as My Computer or Network Connections, see Hack #22 in that book .

Tony Bradley is a consultant and writer with a focus on network security, antivirus and incident response. He is the About.com Guide for Internet / Network Security (http://netsecurity.about.com), providing a broad range of information security tips, advice, reviews and information. Tony also contributes frequently to other industry publications. For a complete list of his freelance contributions you can visit Essential Computer Security (http://www.tonybradley.com).

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