Microsoft

Permanently set Windows XP's Windows Explorer as your flash drive's default AutoPlay action

AutoPlay can be fickle when it comes to determining the default action for opening files from your flash drive. Here's how to configure Windows XP to bypass AutoPlay and automatically launch Windows Explorer when you insert your flash drive.

If you have a USB flash drive holding various Windows XP files, you may want to configure the drive to automatically open Windows Explorer rather than display the AutoPlay dialog box.

You can select the Open Folder To View Files In Windows Explorer and select the Always Do The Selected Action check box but that only configures the flash drive for one file type. Here's how to configure your flash drive to open Windows Explorer for all file types at the same time:

  1. Insert your flash drive into the USB port.
  2. When you see the AutoPlay dialog box, click Cancel.
  3. Open My Computer, right-click your flash drive icon, and select Properties.
  4. In the Properties dialog box, select the AutoPlay tab.
  5. Perform the following steps for each item in the Content Type drop-down list:
    - Select an item in the Content Type drop-down list.
    - Choose Select An Action To Perform in the Actions panel.
    - Select the Open Folder To View Files In Windows Explorer action.
    - Click the Apply button.
  6. Click OK to close the Properties dialog box.

Now use the Safely Remove Hardware feature to remove your flash drive -- wait a moment and plug it back in. You'll see the AutoPlay progress appear momentarily, and then you should see Windows Explorer open to show the contents of the flash drive.

Note: This tip is for both Windows XP Home and Professional.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

30 comments
DeeDux
DeeDux

Works fine, thanks! (BTW, I'm not and IT person, but this is one of my favorite forums.)

themaestroofemail
themaestroofemail

What I would like to know is how to make Windows XP automatically load different programs for different flash drives. Because I've been trying to write an autorun for mine that opens up a menu of different stuff. Please help.

amraza50
amraza50

thats great.but what if the flash drive have virus?the drive has already been opened and the computer infected.woudnt it be better to scan the drive first and open.instead of directly being opened by explorer?

prkimmel
prkimmel

When I insert my flash drive, auto-play doesn't come up. I view that as a problem. I can change the settings as suggested in this article, but that doesn't solve the problem.

tinoy66
tinoy66

This doesnt work on my pc

remjoe
remjoe

what a change, wonderful Idea.thx

john_j_p
john_j_p

I chose "Take No Action" instead of file view, I would like nothing to happen rather than have a windows explorer open up. However Windows Explorer still opens, is there any way to change this?

techproguild
techproguild

Is there any way to bind this action to the flash drive? I use this drive in lots of different computers. I want the flash drive to override the computer's default action and open explorer.

davdun75
davdun75

Works for me... just what I wanted... quick viewing.

Brian G
Brian G

Cool, then you can Automatically get Trojans and Virus sfb

captainjimmy
captainjimmy

This works on paper. I have been working with computer setup for quite some time now and have had major issues with this dilemma. This solution works most of the time until a new piece of software is added, particularly Adobe CS series. Most any type of picture software has the defaults set to take over control of flash media and if you are not on your toes through the entire setup to disable these actions, it will screw up all the autoplay functions.

jacobk
jacobk

Ok. Although this would work to set the option for a specific computer, sometimes you would want this choice/behaviour to be the same for the flash drive no matter which computer you plugged it into - at an internet cafe for example. This would specifically be useful/important for visually impaired people who were running some screenreader software like NVDA off the flash drive since it would make it possible for them to use almost any computer without sighted assistance. Although I, for example, have an autorun.inf file on my flash drive, I still have to know that I must hit enter to select the 'first' option in the normal startup dialogue, and then normally hit tab once to get the checkbox on the startup warning dialogue, then hit Alt + R to actually run the app. I know there's no easy work-around for this since it's mostly a 'security' issue, but just think it would 'be nice' if people that 'need' it could work around stuff like this.

laxnaik
laxnaik

thanks, it works perfectly fine. Laxman 14/06/07

alohatim
alohatim

I use to get all the options after plugging in a flash drive to download photos. Now I get a dialog box with the Pictures icon above a blank box giving me no options. Must have been last months XP updates that changed the default behavior. When I followed your instructions the only time I get the options after choosing from the dropdown list is Music. For Pictures, Video, and Mixed content the dialog box is blank. What's up with that?

Fablanta
Fablanta

"thats great.but what if the flash drive have virus?" The boot sector, executable files or macros within documents can contain a virus but as far as I know you cannot get a virus just by accessing a drive in Windows. This is a great tip especially useful for external HDDs as it stops it from scanning, what could be, thousand of files.

alohatim
alohatim

If you have Tweak UI, run it and then go MY Computer>Autoplay. There will be three choices. Drives, Types, Handlers. In my case I needed to go to Handlers to assign the choice of function I wanted autorun to do.

derek.newsbox1
derek.newsbox1

I want NOTHING to happen because almost always I have inserted the drive to do something with it with some program already running, e.g. an archive dump. Having to click other thing out of thw way is wasting my time. It annoys me that this attribute cannot be applied to a single USB port. (I know they can ALL be disabled from auto-login but that's too drastic, really.) Lack of thought in MS as to the rtequirements.

rpost
rpost

is only so after you have made the same mistake several times. There are two radio buttons, one that says ?select option to perform? and the other ?prompt me each time to choose action.? If you don?t select option to perform, you can?t select ?content type.? Once done, it works flawlessly.

nahkit_cj
nahkit_cj

Autoplay seems to run through everything first, rather than "momentarily", and then explorer opens up.

winlak
winlak

On my computer I do not even see the momentary flash of the original action. For all I can tell it goes directly to Explorer. Many thanks, I needed this a long time ago!

prkimmel
prkimmel

In Tweak UI's My Computer\Autoplay, one is told that both the drive letter (in Drives) and drive type (in Types) must be enabled for autoplay. Checking, I find that both are enabled. Handlers seems to give the ability to edit how the autoplay selection made for the particular drive (in My Computer\drive\Properties) operates. Well, in My Computer, I have my removable drive set as "Open folder to view files in Windows Explorer". In Handlers, I see all potential media (other than blank CDR) already set as supported. So, there's nothing else to do here. So, I still have the problem and solicit help.

alohatim
alohatim

In my case, it doesn't matter which radio button I chose. I don't get the options to choose with three of the four file options from the dropdown menu. Why this should be I don't know. Up until recently I use to get the options of what action to take when I plugged in a flash drive.

rbardy
rbardy

Nice! One of those little tricks you can pass on to someone and look like an absolute hero!

alohatim
alohatim

No,Yes,Yes,Yes,No The problem is I use to get the different options when I plugged in my Flash drive. Now I don't. Why this change? Did last months windows update do something? I recemtly installed Office 2007. Did that cause the change? I'd like to know if there's a registry fix for this.

ThumbsUp2
ThumbsUp2

This may seem like a silly question, but have you already set certain file types to open with a specific program all of the time and those particular file types are all that you have on the flash drive? Have you tried it with different file types? Have you tried it with no files on the flash drive? Have you tried it while logged in as the administrator? Are your user settings set so that you can NOT change the options for the drive?

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