How-To Geek

How to Open an Explorer Window from the Command Prompt’s Current Directory

oec_top

There are all kinds of ways to open a Command Prompt window from File Explorer—and you can even run commands right in the File Explorer address bar—but did you know it’s just as easy to open a File Explorer window from the Command Prompt?

Say you’re in the Command Prompt, working with files and folders, and you want to access them in Explorer. Instead of navigating to them manually, you can get there with one simple command. Go ahead and open up a Command Prompt window by hitting Windows+X and selecting “Command Prompt” from the Power Users menu.

oec_1

We’re going to be working with the start command, so let’s begin with a simple command to open a File Explorer window for the current folder in Command Prompt. At the prompt, just type the following:

start .

oec_2a

The period is used in the Command Prompt as a shorthand for the current folder, so this will open the current folder in File Explorer.

oec_a

You can also use a double period to open the parent of the current folder. For example, say that in Command Prompt you were currently looking at a folder named “Reports” that was inside a directory named “Project A.” You could type the following command to open the “Project A” folder in File Explorer without leaving the “Reports” folder in Command Prompt:

start ..

oec_3a

And with one command, the “Project A” folder opens up in File Explorer.

oec_b

You can also build off that double period shorthand be adding a relative path to the end. Let’s continue our example by assuming there was also a folder named “Sales” inside that “Project A” folder. While still in the “Reports” folder, you could type the following command to open the “Sales” folder in File Explorer) without leaving the “Reports” folder in Command Prompt.

start ..\Sales

oec_4a

Of course, you can also type the full path to open any folder on your PC:

start c:\windows\system32

oec_5

You can also use the command along with any of the built-in Windows environmental variables or the newer shell: operator styles. So, for example, you could type the following command to open the current user’s AppData folder:

start %APPDATA%

oec_6

Or a command like this to open the Windows startup folder:

start shell:startup

oec_7

So, if you’re typing along at the Command Prompt and want to switch to using File Explorer for some tasks, just remember the humble start command. It’s also great for impressing your less savvy friends. Of course, the start command is also used for running programs and there are a number of additional switches available for that function. If you’re curious about those, just type start /? at the Command Prompt to get a full list of switches and how they’re used.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Published 11/8/16

More Articles You Might Like