How-To Geek

Disable Explorer Breadcrumbs in Windows Vista

Dozens of people have written in and expressed their hatred of the new breadcrumb feature in Windows Vista’s Explorer address bar, and especially because you simply can’t turn it off… until now.

Standing next to Andreas Verhoeven is probably dangerous, because he’s simply on fire. He read Mysticgeek’s rant on the subject, and within hours had emailed us the first version of an application that will disable the breadcrumbs in explorer.

Here is the default explorer breadcrumb:


And here’s the address bar after running AveNoBreadcrumb. It will completely disable the breadcrumbs.


Installing AveNoBreadCrumb

  1. Download and unzip the file
  2. Double-click on AveNoBreadCrumb.exe
  3. Close the current explorer window, and open a new one.
  4. Magic!

Adding to Startup

  1. Open an explorer window and type in shell:Startup into the address bar to get to your startup folder.
  2. Create a shortcut in this folder to AveNoBreadCrumb.exe


  1. Remove the startup shortcut, if any.
  2. Double-click on AveNoBreadCrumb.exe to disable it.
  3. Close the current explorer window and re-open.

If you have a great idea for a new application or would like to see something changed, post your idea on the bounty program forum.

Download AveNoBreadCrumb [mirror] from Ave’s Vista Stuff

Note: Andreas has a donate button on his site, worth considering giving him a donation for his hard work.

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 08/9/07

Comments (44)

  1. Moroni

    Where in the world have you found this shortcut “shell:startup”?
    Are there any others ?

    Tks! :)

  2. Scott

    Oh, you mean Andreas ‘I Own Explorer’ Verhoeven :)

  3. DrWatson

    So, without the bread crumbs, what do you click to “navigate up”? I mean, the old Go to Parent button does not exist in the new explorer.

  4. Ryan Wagner

    Disable the breadcrumbs? I love them! :) I think it was one of the best additions to Windows Explorer in Vista.

  5. The Geek

    You wouldn’t believe the amount of email I get asking how to disable them…. I’m just annoyed that they didn’t allow a setting to disable them.

    The problem with the breadcrumbs is that if you have a lot of deep folders with long names, it’s very difficult to use them since they run off the screen as in the top screenshot.

    It’s true that there’s no more Up button, but you can always use Alt+Up to go up a folder, or use the drop-down next to the forward/back buttons.

  6. Ken G

    I absolutely love this……I hated the bread crumbs feature and thought it was annoying as heck

  7. Ave

    I was actually about to add an UP button next to the addressbar, but didn’t want to put too much in it.

  8. The Geek

    You should definitely add the Up button if you can do it…

  9. mysticgeek

    Andreas is a maniac! Kudos to you sir!

    I hunted far and wide trying to find a way to get rid of breadcrumbs … Rant and ye shall receive!

  10. Itanium

    In reply to….

    Where in the world have you found this shortcut “shell:startup”?
    Are there any others ?

    Editor: Itanium posted a great list that I’ve moved to this forum thread because of the length. Thanks!

  11. John

    You guys do know that if you click in the address bar next to the breadcrumbs it reverts back to the file structure line right???

    I dont see the point of this program. People should just learn how to use Vista.

  12. truman


    That’s a really silly comment. Some of us just don’t like the breadcrumbs and would prefer to have an option to disable them entire, but Microsoft didn’t give us one.

    Everybody knows you can click in the address bar. If you don’t have a valid complaint, there’s no reason to leave a comment.

  13. The Geek

    This is a friendly site, let’s all keep it that way.

  14. Khoa

    You can press Atl+D to jump to the address bar and disable the breadcrumb

  15. ProphetSix

    Just an FYI: I loved using this program, but alas, I now have to uninstall it. It’s causing issues with the Vista Aero interface and the Start Menu. During startup, after login, I loose the Start Menu (all I get is the shadow of the menu), and also the menu bar selections from Outlook 2007 (again, all I get are shadows). Spent 3 hours on the phone with MS, and a couple dozen reboots later, and narrowed it down to this program. Which sucks, because I REALLY like it.

    Hopefully there will be an update soon. I’ll keep an eye on it just in case there is. (Vista Business Ed. on a Dell Optiplex GX620 with a PNY 6800.)

    Not trying to complain, just letting people know in case they have a similar issue.

  16. Chris

    Hi, gd program bt i also like prophetsix i woz getting an invisible start menu after logging on.

  17. Joe Shmoe

    Glad theres an option out there now, but I must admit I have gotten use to breadcrumbs or whatever you want to call it. Feels like it serves as a nice medium on Vista’s elegant feel, I know that sounds weird but meh.

  18. Joe

    Just tried it on Vista SP1, and it’s not working for me.

  19. Nurta

    Yeah, I tried it and I had the classic start menu and unless I turn it off I don’t get a start menu. If I take it off the classic start menu and into the regular one it works, but I don’t like the new start menu more than I don’t like the breadcrumbs, but I really don’t like the breadcrumbs…

  20. Sue

    Brilliant! :D

    Now, how do we get rid of that stupid Search box?

  21. Josie

    How do I get rid of the box on the right side of desktop that searches for Help every time I open a program. It usually says it can’t find it

  22. Dan Dar3

    Breadcrumbs are one Vista very useful features – as John said above, if you click somewhere in the empty (right) side of the address bar OR if you click ALT + D (as in XP) that gets you get the full path as you did in XP. Very useful with Tablet PCs. I like that when you click on the parent bit it selects the previous folder you were in. I think people don’t know what they’re missing out, ah well, their loss really.

  23. Player

    Whoa, this is awesome. Thanks a lot. Searched two days for this and finally I found it, thanks Ave.

    And those who like the breadcrumbs, good if you like it, there is still a lot of people wondering why on earth Microsoft decided not to have an option to choose classic view in this feature since there’s a lot of other features that are capable of doing that. But enough quibbling about of that topic, I’m just glad that there actually is an option.

  24. Dave

    Sadly the fix does not seem to work on 64 Bit Windows Vista.

  25. Player

    Yeah, just “updated” my Vista to 64-bit and it sure doesn’t work. And this was my saving grace with that stupid address bar in Vista. I guess I’ll just have to learn to enjoy the pain ;)

  26. Kbboy

    I like this permanent revert/default to full path instead of breadcrumbs but the thing I hate most about the new address bar still isn’t fixed: the drop down arrow for the bar used to give me my list of drives, now it’s this useless history which I think of as a security hazard to begin with – I don’t want to see my recent visited history in there, I want to disable THAT feature! -IT professional for 15 years, I don’t mind new stuff and changes, but they should be changes that are more convenient than before, not less.

  27. Dan Dar3

    Kbboy, no offence my good man, but 15 years IT professional and not knowing how to use Regmon or Process Monitor for yourself doesn’t compliment your skills.

    The feature is called “Previous Locations” and it is basically a history list that allows you to return to previously visited locations – it’s supposed to be helpful. The history is kept in registry in HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TypedURLs and seems it you can clear it from Internet Options > Delete History.

  28. Bob

    Dear MS – this is my last PC – how much productivity have you cost us with all this nonsense! It’s just utterly irresponsible for MS to not allow this to be disabled. The file path is crucial for so many things. Bad news – AveNoBreadcrumb did not work for me on a 64bit machine. Anything else that can be done?

  29. Disgruntled from Surrey

    I have to agree with Kbboy, at least these breadcrumbs allow you to navigate. Having the dropdown box as showing previously visited locations is completely redundant due to back and forward buttons surely. I want a way to have that dropdown box allow me to access the whole of my computer like in previous versions of windows, not just places I’ve been before. If that’s not possible, is there a way to disable having the breadcrumbs disabled (Alt-D), so that I don’t have to constantly click away from the box to get the breadcrumbs back? An up button would also be nice.

  30. Dan Dar3

    Are you clicking away to get the breadcrumbs back? try ESC key.
    Up button would be nice, try using Backspace key for now.

  31. Ken Mason

    AveBreadCrumbs doesn’t work on x64 CPUs, or in x64 Vista, I don’t know which imcompatibilty. Both?

  32. Bill

    Breadcrumbs are one of the worst additions to Vista. They’re 1) small and hard to click on and 2) don’t work with long pathnames.

    Up-arrow and backspace worked quite well in XP, and the fact that you can’t use them in Vista is the reason why I’m not upgrading to it. Nor Win7 (since it looks like it has the same brain dead system), until this machine dies an unrecoverable death.

  33. tester

    I see there is a great deal of dissent amongst many web users who can’t understand why some people have issues with the breadcrumb facility (do a google search on this topic!).

    I have a disability that makes typing very difficult. I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software and I program Visual Basic with this software, largely by voice. Having breadcrumbs disabled will facilitate my file management by allowing me to set a focus in the address bar and paste a file location depending on a file or folder that I verbally express using my voice recognition software. This is incredibly simple with a straightforward address bar and provides quick access to files/folders, but despite repeated attempts I have been finding it impossible to do this using windows vista’s breadcrumbs facility. The breadcrumb facility prevents me from efficiently accessing my selected computer folders requiring considerably more effort and putting a seriously dent in my productivity as a computer user, to do what I’d consider is a simple task.

    I do see the value for able-bodied individuals, but I find it remarkable that I’m unable to switch this off in windows vista itself to facilitate accessibility for disabled people who really want to help themselves.

    This workaround will seriously make a world of a difference for me, thank you.

  34. me

    It is simply ridiculous to me that they did not ad this as a feature in Vista… I can totally understand that it may be an upgrade for some people but they shouldn’t have ignored people that liked explorer the way it was. As Bill said above me- windows 7 looks like more of the same… I just hope they gave the user more flexibility to change it in that version, otherwise XP is going to continue it’s long stay on my machines for a while into the future…

  35. PankkypH

    Hello there,
    Is there any news about how to get rid of the invisible start menu problem when using AveNoBreadCrumbs ?
    That’s the only reason I don’t wanna download this program…

  36. twig

    exactly what i was looking for!

    props to the author, cannot express enough gratitude for this!

  37. me

    John, don’t be gay. Breadcrumbs are noobish. And, don’t tell us to learn Vista, we (most likely) have more computing experience than you.

    Thanks for the excellent submission. I look forward to testing it.

  38. twig

    I’ve created a 64bit and 32bit win7 compatible version of the breadcrumb killer if anyone wants it.

    The link is in my “website” if howtogeek decides to approve this comment.

    either that or google win7 “BreadCrumbKiller” to get the page to download it

  39. william

    i don’t think breadcrumb annoying.

    in fact, it is a drop list that always enable you to go to another directory with just a click on the drop list.

    you still can have the full path with just a click on the upside-down tiny triangle on the rightmost of the location/url bar.

  40. Mike

    Back in the days of the advent of XP Microsoft had a couple of “switches” that allowed you to turn the system into the “classic” GUI mode.

    I would like to see someone do this with Vista and Win 7. Collect together all the bits and pieces like the crumb killer, the up button and the classic start button and bundle it all into an application. Create an app that would with the throw of the switch turn the GUI into Windows 2000 or the classic interface.

    Now THAT! Is something I would buy!

  41. sl0wJ0n

    I have just built a new box; my old one was a MicronPC, w/ shipping date 11/1999, so I know what you’all have been going thru.
    Interestingly, AFTER finding this site, & your posts, I started ‘exploring’ Win7, like we used to do w/ ’95’ & then ’98.
    IF all you’re after is ‘navigating’ to other folders, try clicking on the little ‘breadcrumb’ triangles;
    doing that gives you the option of selecting ANY folder at that path junction.
    Still, what “Disgruntled from Surrey” said is true; it IS ”redundant’!
    Especially so, is light of the “BACK” [space] KEY!
    At least Mickey[mouse]soft (warz) ‘engineers’ could’ve added the same “Alt+Rt arrow” keyboard shrtct,
    just like you can in another M$ product; Internet Exploiter.
    Well, We’ll ALL have to keep on Rt+, Shft+, Alt+, Lft-clicking to try & find the best way to aggravate,
    UH, I mean NAVIGATE thru the “NEW & IMPROVED” version!

  42. none

    John said:

    “You guys do know that if you click in the address bar next to the breadcrumbs it reverts back to the file structure line right???”

    The problem with this approach is that it does not work. It keeps reverting back. I spend a huge amount of time clicking to directory view so I can do something. It would not be so bad that if once you clicked to directory structure, it persisted until you turned it off..

    “I dont see the point of this program. People should just learn how to use Vista”

    The point is to make it easier to use Vista. and that is an excellent point.

  43. gul

    What a weird idea to call this BreadCrumb !?! that keyword is as hard to find as the solution itself!
    I just ran BreadCrumbKiller; Sweet!. Found it thanks to your program and the comments on this page.
    I took spasm too
    I hate microsoft for forcing to run executables but I thank you the geek and twig !!

  44. gwideman

    Just a quick note to say that Classic Shell for Windows 7 includes some features for Explorer.

    These include the capability to disable breadcrumbs, so that the address bar shows the traditional full path as a single string with backslash separators. (This is easily enabled/disabled.)

    I don’t dislike the breadcrumbs, but for folders on a file server I need the server name displayed, which the breadcrumbs omit. So… Classic Shell to the rescue.

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