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Set the Windows Explorer Startup Folder in Windows 7

When you open Windows Explorer from the Taskbar in Windows 7, it defaults to the Libraries view. Today we take a look at changing the target path to allow you to customize which location opens by default.

When you click on the Windows Explorer icon on the Windows 7 Taskbar, it’s set to open to the Libraries view by default. You might not use the Libraries feature, or want to set it to a different location that is more commonly used.

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Set Windows Explorer Startup Location

To change the default startup location for the Windows Explorer Taskbar icon, if you have no Explorer screens open, hold down the Shift key, right-click the Explorer icon, and select Properties.

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Or if you have Windows open, right-click on the Explorer icon to bring up the Jumplist, then right-click on Windows Explorer and select Properties.

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Windows Explorer Properties opens up and you’ll want to click on the Shortcut tab so we can change the Target.

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A common place you might want it to default to is your Documents folder. So to do that we need to enter the following into the Target field.

%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /n,::{450D8FBA-AD25-11D0-98A8-0800361B1103}

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Now when you open Windows Explorer from the Taskbar it defaults to My Documents…

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If you use the Start Menu to access Windows Explorer, open the Start Menu and go to All Programs \ Accessories and right-click on Windows Explorer then select Properties. Change the target path to where you want it to go.

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In this example we want Windows Explorer to open up to My Computer so we entered the following in the Target field.

%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /E,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}

When click on the Explorer icon in the Start Menu it defaults to My Computer…

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You can set it to open to various locations. For instance if you wanted to mess with someone at work, you could enter the following and Explorer will always open to the Recycle Bin.

%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /E,::{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}

Conclusion

Here we showed you a couple of commonly used locations that you might want Windows Explorer to open to instead of Libraries. You can set it to other locations if you know the GUID (Globally Unique Identifiers) for the object or location you want it to default to. For more on using GUIDs check out The Geek’s article on how to enable the secret “How-To Geek” mode in Windows 7.

Actually it’s just a play on the so-called “God Mode” for Windows, but there is some good information, and a list of some locations you might want to have Windows Explorer open to.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/17/10

Comments (22)

  1. Phoenix

    just love this post.

    just last week i unsuccessfully was searching google for this tip.. Thanks a lot..

    howtogeek is very helpful

  2. Strodtbeck

    don’t forget to add your shortcut keys :)

    I simply make a separate partition for everything that is not the OS and add that shortcut to the start menu with shortcut keys that open to that drive/partition (“HOME”) where everything is. That way I can keep a clean backup of the OS and never have to worry about my separate partition with all my stuff on it.

  3. socalgal

    Not a routine commenter, but man I love this site! At the weekend I was moaning having so many damn useless defaults in WIndows, and the Explorer -> Libraries default was one of them. Many thanks. While not a newbie, I’m also not so confident/stupid as to meddle routinely with the registry, and of course there are other ways of getting to the same place. But still – one less click is one click further away from carpal tunnel.

  4. greenlink

    just a little heads up, you don’t need to put in a big long string just to have it open “my documents”. i have my target set to “C:\Users\[user name]\Documents”.

  5. Matthew Lucas

    Instead of using C:\users\[username]\Documents
    just use %userprofile%\documents
    it is easier and is harder to break if you make changes to your account’s name or the like

  6. Jiyongred

    What about Win+E? This is great for those who click to open Windows Explorer, but it’d be nice if there was a way to do this for the Win+E shortcut. Does anyone know if there is?

  7. Bob

    Your article is very useful as ever.

    But I did not have an explorer icon or anything like it visible
    anywhere.

    So I had to figure out how to get an explorer icon at all
    BEFORE I could even start with your instructions.

    Many users like me may have the same problem.

    Please add the step of making an explorer icon!!!!

  8. Dan

    I also use a easier naming convention those the tip says, mine opens to my computer and I have “%windir%\explorer.exe shell:MyComputerFolder” under target. Now how do I get the libraries and user files to open collapsed?

  9. Josh

    Like Jiyongred, I too would like to know how to change to which folder Win+E opens. Any ideas? It’s my most common way of opening explorer (although the Jumplists on the taskbar are proving to be quite handy).

  10. Bruce

    don’t forget to add your shortcut keys :)

    I simply make a separate partition for everything that is not the OS and add that shortcut to the start menu with shortcut keys that open to that drive/partition (“HOME”) where everything is. That way I can keep a clean backup of the OS and never have to worry about my separate partition with all my stuff on it.

  11. Xeogin

    I usually open Explorer by right-clicking the Start Menu/Pearl. Is there anyway to make this work for that? I’ve changed all the other shortcuts to Explorer and they work fine, but it’s pretty useless if it’s not what I normally use anyway.

  12. Fishel

    I want my startup folder to be ” my files” on disk D. I changed it to d:\ my files. It works great but I can no longer add folders to the explorer folder list in the task bar. Any ideas how to get it to work.

    Thanks

  13. Linda F

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you!

    I love Windows 7, but the fact that Windows Explorer opened to Libraries and I had to click click click just to get to My Documents was driving me out of my mind.

    I figured if anybody knew how to change it, you would. And you did!

  14. Brad

    When I do this (I use the “My Computer” version), folders names in Windows Explorer that contain ‘.’ chars have the end trimmed as though the “file extension” is hidden. The system is set to not hide file extensions, and normal files show correctly. i.e. “textfile.txt” displays as “textfile.txt”, but “my.folder” displays as “my”

    Ideas?

  15. cybersans

    this kind of “shortcut” caused your explorer.exe process remain in your task manager and never terminated. if you open & close windows explorer with that shortcut about 30 times, you will see 31 explorer.exe process in your task manager. see your task manager to check whether it is correct or not

  16. Sri

    If you want to open specific drive, you can use

    %windir%\explorer.exe D:\

    which opens D: Drive.

  17. JNow

    I was able to figure out changing the location and used C:\Users\[user name]\Documents same as greenlink, but what I wanted was the navigation pane (left side column) to expand to the same folder. I finally found how to do it, for anyone interested.

    In Windows Explorer go to “Folder Options”menu up top, then “Folder and search options in the menu that opens up. Scroll down to “Navigation pane”, make sure both “Show all folders” and “Automatically expand to current folder” are checked.

  18. plooger

    The GUID method seems to leave the navigation pane confused. (i.e. the targeted folder is NOT highlighted in the left nav pane; explorer seems to, instead, highlight the ‘Favorites’ branch at the top of the pane)

  19. rwilcher

    This has bugged me for a while. Glad you squashed this one 8^)

  20. rwilcher

    This has bugged me forever. Glad you sqaushed it 8^)

  21. rwilcher

    Is there something like this for the Dreaded Visto O.S ?

  22. Barry Rabichow

    I’d like Windows Explorer to startup with the “desktop” folder. Is there a GUID for that?

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