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How to Customize the File Open/Save Dialog Box in Windows

00_customized_places_bar

Generally, there are two kinds of Open/Save dialog boxes in Windows. One kind looks like Windows Explorer, with the tree on the left containing Favorites, Libraries, Computer, etc. The other kind contains a vertical toolbar, called the Places Bar.

The Windows Explorer-style Open/Save dialog box can be customized by adding your own folders to the Favorites list. You can, then, click the arrows to the left of the main items, except the Favorites, to collapse them, leaving only the list of default and custom Favorites.

01_windows_standard_save_dialog

The Places Bar is located along the left side of the File Open/Save dialog box and contains buttons providing access to frequently-used folders. The default buttons on the Places Bar are links to Recent Places, Desktop, Libraries, Computer, and Network. However, you change these links to be links to custom folders of your choice.

02_places_bar_on_save_dialog

We will show you how to customize the Places Bar using the registry and using a free tool in case you are not comfortable making changes in the registry.

Using the Registry

To open the Registry Editor, open the Start menu and enter “regedit.exe” in the Search box. Click the regedit.exe link in the results or press Enter.

03_opening_regedit

If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.

NOTE: You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings.

04_uac_dialog_for_regedit

Navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ comdlg32 \ Placesbar

The comdlg32 and Placesbar keys may not exist. If not, you need to create them. For example, to create the comdlg32 key, right-click the Policies key and select New | Key.

05_creating_new_key

A new key is created and the text is highlighted. Rename the new key “comdlg32.”

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Add Placesbar as a new key under the comdlg32 key.

07_both_keys_created

Select the Placesbar key and right-click in the right pane. Select New | String Value from the popup menu.

08_creating_new_value

Rename the new value Place0. You can create up to 5 entries: Place0, Place1, Place2, Place3, Place4. You don’t have to define all five places, but they must be defined in numerical order.

To define the target folder for a PlaceX value, double-click on the value name.

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In the Value data edit box on the Edit String dialog box, enter the full path for the location you want to add to the Places Bar and click OK.

10_edit_string_dialog

You can also define a target folder using a numerical value for system folders. There is a table below listing the numerical values for the different system folders. To define a target folder using a numerical value, create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value the same way you created the String Value.

11_creating_a_dword_value

Double-click on the new DWORD value.

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Enter a numerical value in the Value data edit box. Use the values from the table below the image.

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The following “DWORD” values can be used to add standard folders to the Places Bar.

00 – Desktop
01 – Internet Explorer
02 – Start Menu\Programs
03 – My Computer\Control Panel
04 – My Computer\Printers
05 – My Documents
06 – Favorites
07 – Start Menu\Programs\Startup
08 – \Recent
09 – \SendTo
0a – \Recycle Bin
0b – \Start Menu
0c – – logical “My Documents” desktop icon
0d – My Music
0e – My Videos
10 – \Desktop
11 – My Computer
12 – My Network Places
13 – \NetHood
14 – WINDOWS\Fonts
15 – Templates
16 – All Users\Start Menu
17 – All Users\Programs
18 – All Users\Start Menu
19 – All Users\Desktop
1a – \Application Data
1b – \PrintHood
1c – \Local Settings\Application Data
1d – – Nonlocalized startup
1e – – Nonlocalized common startup
1f – Favorites
20 – Temporary Internet Files
21 – Cookies
22 – History
23 – All Users\Application Data
24 – WINDOWS directory
25 – System32 directory
26 – Program files
27 – My Pictures
28 – USERPROFILE
29 – – x86 system directory on RISC
2a – – x86 C:\Program Files on RISC
2b – C:\Program Files\Common
2c – – x86 Program Files\Common on RISC
2d – All Users\Templates
2e – All Users\Documents
2f – All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Administrative Tools
30 – – \Start Menu\Programs\Administrative Tools
31 – Network and Dial-up Connections
35 – All Users\My Music
36 – All Users\My Pictures
37 – All Users\My Video
38 – Resource Directory
39 – Localized Resource Directory
3a – Links to All Users OEM specific apps
3b – USERPROFILE\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\CD Burning

Select Exit from the File menu to close the Registry Editor.

15_closing_registry_editor

The Places Bar on the Save dialog box displays the custom folders and chosen system folders.

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Using PlacesBar Editor

For those of you who don’t feel comfortable making changes to the registry or who just want an easier way to customize the Places Bar, there is a free tool available called PlacesBar Editor. Download the tool using the link at the end of this article and follow the instructions to install it. If the User Account Control dialog box displays during installation, click Yes to continue.

NOTE: You may not see the User Account Control dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings.

Use the shortcut created on the desktop to run PlacesBar Editor. You may see the User Account Control dialog box again.

17_uac_dialog_for_running_places_bar_editor

The first time you run PlacesBar Editor, the following dialog box displays, encouraging you to donate. Your default web browser also opens to a PayPal page, suggesting a donation.

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The main interface displays showing a toolbar and two tabs. The Windows tab allows you to make changes to File Open and File Save dialog boxes containing the Places Bar. To define a custom target folder for one of the places, select the Custom check box for that place. Click the folder button to the right of the User Folders edit box to select a folder, or type in the full path to a folder. To select a system folder for a place, select a folder from the drop-down list under System Folders for that place.

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As mentioned at the beginning of this article, some programs use the Windows Explorer-like File Open and File Save dialog box. Microsoft Office programs (and some other Microsoft programs, like Notepad and Paint) use this style of dialog box.

You can use PlacesBar Editor to customize the Microsoft Office dialog boxes as well. Click the Office tab. For each custom folder you want to add, enter a name for the folder in the edit box under Folder Name. Use the folder button to select the desired folder or enter the full path to the desired folder in the edit box under User Folders. You can add up to five additional custom folders. These folders are added to the Favorites, and also display as Favorites in Windows Explorer.

20_adding_folders_to_office_open_save_dialog

To apply changes for each tab, you must click Save when that tab is active. To apply changes for Office programs, make sure the Office tab is active and click Save. To save changes you made on the Windows tab, you must click the Windows tab and click Save again.

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A dialog box displays telling you that the changes were made successfully.

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Once you apply, or save, your changes, on a tab, you can test those changes by clicking the Test button.

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The appropriate dialog box for the currently selected tab displays. If the Office tab is active, an Office program like Word or Excel opens and the Open dialog box displays. Click Cancel on the Open dialog box to close the dialog box and the program.

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You can revert back to the default settings for both types of File Open and File Save dialog boxes by clicking the Defaults button. You must click the Defaults button for each tab separately.

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A Confirm dialog box displays. Click Yes if you’re sure you want to revert to the defaults.

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To close PlacesBar Editor, click Exit.

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Customizing the File Open and File Save dialog boxes with custom folders can improve your productivity, especially if the folders you use most often are several layers deep in your folder structure.

Download PlacesBar Editor from http://melloware.com/download/.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 11/15/11

Comments (5)

  1. Jim

    nice!! i was just seeing this pop up today & thinking to my self “man i need to find a way to change those shortcuts on the left…gets annoying after seeing it time & time again”

    thanks!

  2. beastfellow

    Great finding. Thanks alot

  3. sharon

    when I did this (the changes to the registry), it put my new location in the Places Bar, but none of the system folders where there.

  4. Amol

    Far more simpler option in Windows 7, under Libraries create “New Library” and under properties you can include multiple folders.

  5. Oldtimer88

    Great H-T article !!!
    Finally I have a place to ask a very-long-due question: when I r-click a website to create a shortcut, Internet Explorer asks “do you want to put this shorcut on your DESKTOP???”

    Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish it from other shortcuts on the desktop,,, is there a way to change that default destination to other folder of my choice? Running W7-Pro.

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