Have you ever needed to repeatedly access a folder that is nested deep inside a giant hierarchy of folders? Sure, you can always create a shortcut to that folder, but did you know you can actually assign a drive letter to a folder instead? Today we’ll show you how to do this.

This ability has existed in Windows via the subst command for quite a while, so this will also work for you XP users as well.

Map a Drive Letter the Easy Way

The easiest way to assign a drive letter to a folder is to use a simple utility called Visual Subst, which gives you a nice graphical interface to assign drive letters, but also does something that the command line version can’t… you can set your virtual drives to apply again at startup.

You can download and run the utility without needing to install it, and then simply use the Browse button to select your path, and click the green plus symbol after choosing the drive letter.

At this point you should see the drive letter show up in the list. (Note that you can delete it by highlighting and choosing the red X icon, or change the path / letter by using the Save button.

If you want to save the drives, you’ll want to select the “Apply virtual drives on Windows startup” option.

Now when you open up your Computer window, you should see the new drive show up in the list.

The contents of the new M: drive will actually be the contents of my desktop folder.

Download Visual Subst from ntwind.com

Assign Drive Letters from the Command Prompt

If you are more the keyboard ninja type, or just want to know how to use the command line version, you can use the subst command to map drive letters the same way by using the following syntax:

subst <driveletter> <folder path>

For example, to map the M: drive to my desktop folder I would use the following command:

subst M: c:\users\geek\desktop

If you just want to see which drive letters are assigned, you can use subst without any arguments, as shown here:

To delete a drive letter you can use the /D switch instead of a path… for instance, to delete the M: drive that I just created, I would use the following syntax:

subst M: /D

Now when you use the subst command to see the current drives, you’ll see nothing in the list.

I’ve found the subst command to be very useful, not just in shortening folder paths but also in one instance where I wanted to delete my second partition… I just reassigned the D: drive letter to point to C: and copied all the data over. That way the application shortcuts still worked without having to reinstall the application.

Profile Photo for Lowell Heddings Lowell Heddings
Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
Read Full Bio »