Windows

Configure Windows Explorer to display Windows XP disk drives

If you like the way that the My Computer view displays all of Windows XP's disk drives when you first launch it, but prefer the Windows Explorer view, Greg Shultz can show how you can get the best of both views.

When you double-click the My Computer icon in Windows XP, you see a list of all the drives on your hard disk. However, when you launch Windows Explorer, it displays the contents of My Documents in the right panel. If you like the way that the My Computer view displays all the disk drives when you first launch it, but prefer the Windows Explorer view, here's how you can get the best of both views.

  1. Right-click on the desktop.
  2. Select New | Shortcut.
  3. Type C:\Windows\Explorer.exe /n, /e, /select, C:\ in the text box, then click Next.
  4. Type My Explorer in the text box and click Finish.

Using the /Select switch with C:\ as the object causes Windows Explorer open a My Computer view of your system. Now, when you select your new shortcut, your window will look more like the My Computer view.

Note: This tip applies to Windows XP Home and Windows XP 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.

55 comments
mchristy98
mchristy98

NT and 2K used to display the COMPUTER name first, with the comment in the (?_wow_?) comment column. Now - XP won't Help?

Dirt Burner
Dirt Burner

I do something similar on all the workstations I set up, but a little different. Right click the Windows Explorer in the Start Menu under Accessories. Add /n,/e,C:\ to the command line and click ok. Then right click it again and Send to Desktop as a shortcut. I then add that to the Quick Lauch bar. It opens an old style Windows Explorer with C: drive expanded.

bus66vw
bus66vw

next time i will bookmark this

pokendeye
pokendeye

I read this article about you loving vista, right up to the point where you explained how you worked with this program. end of discussion, it's total crap. Its the new coke of OS's. It's got one thing I also realy love about it. It's what finally pushed me into Linux. And that alone makes it worth the price. Not that I own a version of it. I've had the pleasure of setting up a neighbors laptop with the system. lol It should have a microsoft swastika on the start button!!

golferguy1
golferguy1

or %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /e,c:

srmgr
srmgr

For years I have been using the following option to open WindowsExplorer to my E:Data drive. To change the default setting so that all top???level drives and folders are shown, follow these steps: 1. Click Start, point to Programs, then Accessories, then right???click Windows Explorer, and click Properties. 2. Under Target field, which reads %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe, add to make the line read %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /n, /e, /select, E:\a open (Where E: is my data drive and a open is an empty folder. Use the drive letter you want Explorer to open in.) The result is that Windows Explorer opens to the E: drive with a folder view in the left pane. 3. Click OK

HeardThatBefore
HeardThatBefore

I don't like the approach of using a second shortcut, as suggested. This way is simpler: 1) Open Windows Explorer 2) In the menu, select "Tools/Folder Options..." 3) Select the "File Types" tab 4) Select the "Folder" file type. Click on the "Advanced" button. In the "Actions" list, select "Explore" and click on "Set Default" button. Click OK. 5) Click "Close". Now every time you open "My Computer" or "My Documents", Explorer will open in "Explorer mode". The behavior will be identical of right-clicking on icon and selecting "Explore", or using Window-E.

Texas.Ex
Texas.Ex

These are great tips - I've always wanted to permanently remove "My Documents" from Explorer - is there a way to do this? Regards, Sparky

thensley
thensley

Don't give up - You gave a good tip. Thank you! I don't understand why the envious one uppers have to chime in with my stuff is better. They should wrte their own column if they have all the answers. Then there are the arrogant I know everything species. Since they know it all why are they here reading. Seems like a waste of their time. Their rude comments are a waste of my time when I am trying to learn all I can to help myself. Once again Thank You!

gaitrosd
gaitrosd

I just tried this and it works on Vista too. Very good.

Wirehound
Wirehound

Would anyone who didn???t know this be signing up to TechRepublic?

niklasbahne
niklasbahne

I think a smarter way of doing this is by making a copy of your explorer.exe icon to your desktop drag it down to quick launch, right click - choose properties ad _/e, after the target, chose startup size and apply

usa.unggul
usa.unggul

I can do that by Right Click on My Computer and select explore. More simple way.

aalkaff
aalkaff

It's really nice to use my computer as explorer and its work with me.. Thanks.

bobz.zg
bobz.zg

Hi, I think you can do same thing by pressing shortcut via keyboard 'win button+e'

Rob C
Rob C

Thanks that's half way towards what I want. I would like it to start maximized. I would like the focus on the C directory. I would like 'My Documents' banished from my pc (I am using Windows XP) I organize all my files into folders like C:\D_Health etc (The D_ stands for Data) So I avoid Documents and Settings folder which is like a mine shaft, built by a crazed rabbit. Similarly I have no use for 'My Documants' which I would like banished from Windows Explorer, and from the Start Menu. What's my chances ? Rob

phvm
phvm

The key combination WINDOWS+E launches the same view.

sundelinmats
sundelinmats

As far as i can see this is what you get if you press the Windows key and E simultaneously. At least on my machine this is the case. I personally find this easier but not all keyboards have the Windows Key.

golferguy1
golferguy1

yup I agree! Lots of problems with others machines for me to fix. You know how MS works...........they have a product that's buggy and they still kick it out the door onto the market, to start recouping their losses making the program. Alas, the poor consumer!

mts
mts

Being a DOS person (having started with DOS 1.0), I opened a DOS box, and typed "explorer", and got the standard (My Documents) display. I then tried "explorer C:\" and got the C: drive display. I also used a folder C:\Data for all my data files (I hate "My Documents"), so I tried "explorer C:\Data", and guess what I got. Try it. You'll like it. To make this workable, and there are several ways to do it, try the following: 1. Right click on desktop 2. Select "new" 3. Select "shortcut" 4. In dialog box, enter desired folder to open, such as "explorer c:\data" 5. Click "next" 6. Enter new name, such as "C:\Data" 7. Click "finish" 8. Enjoy.

fishcad
fishcad

In reference to my reply above. This is just the kind of thing that I learn here. Thanks for the great tip. I like this method better. Thanks to all of you who contribute to TechRepublic.

therealjunkman
therealjunkman

I too am one who helps others, not as my paid job, but as my advocation. Some of us are NOT Know-it-alls, and can admit it. I am a 'Project Head' of a non-profit organization that can not afford expensive seminars or other training. We rebuild donated or discarded systems for reuse by our fellow disabled Vets. I, for one, agree, that about 90% of this stuff is over my head, but the other 10% is worth my time. The Nay-sayers might offer sage advice, but please keep it flame free, OK? There's too much hate around the world already, and some of our people have paid dearly for it. 'Junkman' Chris Mills Project Head: Project Connect Vets Iowa Chapter

Realvdude
Realvdude

I agree some contributors seem to say "this is better" when it is simply a different way or better for their specific wants. However posting different TR articles would make this similar (related) information unbearable to explore. In the spirit of sharing, I found a KB article that documents the explorer.exe command line switches http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314853 I also wanted to mention that Windows knows where to find explorer.exe, so %windir% or %systemroot% are not needed.

Amnezia
Amnezia

These guys are kindergarten level. You should browse the Linux forums - now THEY'RE rude! lol!

fishcad
fishcad

About 90% of what is on Tech Republic goes over my head but I do get a lot of good info even at my level (somewhere in the low-intermediate range). I'm one of those guys who helps a lot of people with their problems, but also asks a lot of questions of the experts.

amkrap
amkrap

I've been using this for years now in a shortcut and to popup Explorer when I click on the Mouse wheel button.

k1p2k1p2
k1p2k1p2

What would be the path to the desktop using the same shortcut idea? Thanks, M

hansarchie
hansarchie

This is what I wanted to have since I started using XP. If the window would like open full-sized, it would be perfect. Thanks

Fixit Once
Fixit Once

Create the shortcut with the following target: C:\Windows\explorer.exe /e This will give you the focus you're looking for.

john3347
john3347

Rob C, you are the first person I have heard speaking out about the miserable system (?) Windows XP uses to organize and access saved user documents. Thank you for speaking out about this. Now we have Vista creaping in, which eventually will be replacing XP, with an even more "screwed up" lack of logical system for filing and accessing saved documents.

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

I have always thought Microsoft named their default critical data folder with a break in the name, "My Documents" to make interfacing with other OSs difficult. Ever try to back up a windows machine to a Linux server with rsync over ssh? Nightmare. As for mydocs, you can right click on the menu item and select delete, go for it. And the shortcut's syntax in the article will dump your view in the root of C:\, where you want to be. Just about any app will let you change the default location for storing data, even outlook and outlook express. I agree completely that the documents and settings model is illogical. e.g. the email address book is under the hidden "application data--->microsoft," but the email itself is under "user data--->identities..." In application data there's an "identities" folder but it's usually a dead end. What's up with that?

mikiebpwp
mikiebpwp

Rob C has hit it on the head. I use a top level folder called C:\0 All Data. Underneath that, I organize all my data files as I please, and I have only one folder to back up all data to an external HDD. My one worry - Is this approach risky if System Restore is used ? ( Not that System Restore ever works for me ) Windows needs to respect the file heirarchy system and admit that C:\ is at the top of the heirarchy, not "DeskTop" or "My Documents" Mike in Ottawa Ontario Canada

Joseph978
Joseph978

to remove "My Documents" from the start menu, just right click on START and select Properties. Select Customize Select Advanced Select "Don't display this item" form the My Documents category under the "Start Menu items" pick list. (you can do the samy for My Music, and My Pictures) good luck

tgreenfield
tgreenfield

First - 'My Documents' If you right click on the 'My Documents' icon and choose 'properties' one of the next options you have is 'Move', which you can then choose where you want 'My Documents' to open. This als affects all other folders too - 'My Music' etc Next - Using explorer Send a copy of the Explorer link to the desktop, then open the properties of the link and change the options. If you only want to open the current drive use only explorer.exe /e, and open in c:\ If you want to open a particular folder eg c:\MyData, then change the properties to use explorer.exe /e and open in c:\MyData Lastly, in the options for the link, there is a dropdown box with an option to run it maximised - Try setting this. Personally, I unlock the taskbar, enable Quick launch and drag a copy of the altered Explorer link onto it. This makes it directly available on the taskbar.

Joseph978
Joseph978

Hi I also have a problem with "My Documents" I like all my files on my DATA drive (D:) and the OS + Applications on my SYS (C:) drive. I've made links from the My Documents folder to different folders on my DATA drive (e.g. MyHomework, MyHealth, MySandbox, MyFinances, ...). Additionally, each of the MS Office Applications has an option for setting the default folder (they come setup for My Documents). Look under tools to change the setting. Another option is to try changing the User Profile - Control Pannel (Computer Management also works) -> Users. Select your UserID Right click, and select Properties click on the Profile Tab You can then select a new "Home Folder" And to get fancy you can even point to a login script to execute. good luck hadz.

yelgab
yelgab

I followed the instructions about typing in the text box. After clicking on Next- My computer changed the direction of the slash marks and said that path could not be found. What can I do next? this is what I typed in the text box: C:\Windows\Explorer.exe/n,/e,/select,C:\

usa.unggul
usa.unggul

Right Click on My Computer and select explore.

usa.unggul
usa.unggul

I can do that by Right Click on My Computer and select explore. More simple way.

brucebozza
brucebozza

Click "Start" and right click "My Computer" then select "Appear on Desktop". The icon is now on your desktop and stays there until you reverse the above procedure.

paul
paul

If you don't have the windows key it might be worthwhile, but personally I find using the keyboard shortcut.

golferguy1
golferguy1

this is great, MTS, thanks for posting! :)

jruby
jruby

This will open it in full screen: START /MAX C:\Windows\Explorer.exe /n, /e, /select, C:\

clintmartin
clintmartin

Right-click on the shortcut you made and choose "Properties". In the Properties dialog box, next to the bottom, you'll see a "Run" control a drop-down arrow. Click the arrow and you can choose between "Normal Window" "Minimized" and "Maximized". Select "Maximized" and it will run full-screen every time.

Aakash Shah
Aakash Shah

john3347: I too disliked XP's way of organization. Just curious, but what do you dislike about Vista's organization?

Heidi Vodka
Heidi Vodka

All you have to do is point My Documents at the D drive, and that's Job Done, surely? Go to the Properties of My Documents and enter D:\ or whatever your data drive is. Best of both worlds, unless you're totally agin the My Documents folder, at which point go get a Mac.

my69gymshorts
my69gymshorts

when you type it use the space bar to place the letters in the correct position. Yours are too close together

daddyofla
daddyofla

Hi: Im new to T.R. IF I COULD ASK YOU A QUESTION WIL NET STUMBLER WORK USING VISTA. SORRY FOR SHOUTING AS I NEVER LEARNED TO TYPE WELL. DAVE/DADDYO daddyofla@comcast.net

Aakash Shah
Aakash Shah

While this works for quick launch icons and shortcuts on your desktop, it doesn't solve the problem when using Win+E to start Explorer. To fix this: 1. close all of the explorer windows 2. open a new explorer using Win+E 3. maximize the window and then either: a. while pressing the Control key, press the close application button (the big red X); or b. click File | Close.

specialfx63
specialfx63

I Like it...Did it on my machines at work. Nice little shortcut.

zclayton2
zclayton2

What do I dislike about Vista? Almost everything. m$ should be sued, but there is no lemon law for software.

friedtoast
friedtoast

Doesn't work for me, either, unfortunately. But, inversely, I *did* put the spaces in there. Was thinking that perhaps they didn't belong and that's why it didn't work. Hmm. As suggested above, hit Windows + E. I'd love to! But, for some reason, it doesn't work on my Dell 9300 here at work. I use that shortcut all the time @ home. Here @ work, I end up R-clicking on the Start button and selecting Explore or clicking open a folder and hitting the Folder button to get the tree. Simple things, really, but a minor PITA.

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