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Make the Navigation Pane Easier to Manage in Windows 7

Windows 7 has made a lot of improvements to several features, but Windows Explorer can be a bit annoying when organizing a large collection of files and folders. Today we show you a quick tip to help make it more manageable.

Adjust Navigation Pane

In Windows 7 there are five locations shown by default. They are Favorites, Libraries, Computer, Network, and Homegroup. You can click through to each location in the navigation pane, but that becomes tedious and annoying, especially when working with a lot of files and directories.

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If you are moving from XP to Windows 7 you might find this method annoying and want to show subfolders instead of clicking through the hierarchy of folders and drives.

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There is an easy way to remedy the annoyance. With Explorer open click on Organize then Folder and search options.

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Under the General tab and the Navigation pane, check Show all folders and Automatically expand to current folder, then Apply and Ok.

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The result is more complete list of folders to allow you to have easier access to everything while going through tons of files and organizing everything.

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Automatically expanding to the current folder makes navigation faster and easier.

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By checking those settings, every time you start up Explorer everything will be displayed in the list. If you want to change it back you can right-click in the Navigation Pane and turn the options on or off.

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This simple adjustment should make navigation in Explorer a lot simpler and save time so you can focus on things that matter while your at work… like games and Facebook.

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 11/10/09

Comments (4)

  1. Ryan

    Anyone know if there is a way to hide the Network short cut from explorer? I have no use for it and it’s taking up valuable space.

  2. Tito

    Actually, you don’t need all the first steps to activate it. Just the right-click one and select it.

  3. Niall

    I agree with you Ryan. Also the Homegroup in the side panel is useless to me. I have tried to get rid of it through the Control Panel and services.msc and even a registry hack, but the infernal thing just won’t budge. Side panel realestate is precious to me for putting in favorite folders.

  4. MilesAhead

    Seems what everyone wants to do, including me, is find a way to change the order of items. Computer keeps getting pushed down. I select other drives way more than any other operation, like going to a Library. My preference would be Computer, Libraries, Favorites, Network and forget about Homegroup altogether.

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