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?

RELATED: 10 Ways to Open the Command Prompt in Windows 10

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.

Note: If you see PowerShell instead of Command Prompt on the Power Users menu, that’s a switch that came about with the Creators Update for Windows 10. It’s very easy to switch back to showing the Command Prompt on the Power Users menu if you want, or you can give PowerShell a try. You can do pretty much everything in PowerShell that you can do in Command Prompt, plus a lot of other useful things.

RELATED: How to Put the Command Prompt Back on the Windows+X Power Users Menu

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 .

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.

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 ..

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

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

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

start c:\windows\system32

RELATED: How to Open Hidden System Folders with Windows' Shell Command

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%

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

start shell:startup

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.

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Walter Glenn is a former Editorial Director for How-To Geek and its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry and over 20 years as a technical writer and editor. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and edited thousands. He's authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers like Microsoft Press, O'Reilly, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He's also written hundreds of white papers, articles, user manuals, and courseware over the years.
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