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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
Of course, you can also type the full path to open any folder on your PC:
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:
Or a command like this to open the Windows startup folder:
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.