Windows

Permanently set your flash drive's default AutoPlay action

Greg Shultz shows you 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 Microsoft 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:

    1. Select an item in the Content Type drop-down list.
    2. Choose Select An Action To Perform in the Actions panel.
    3. Select the Open Folder To View Files In Windows Explorer action.
    4. 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. This blog entry is also available in the PDF format in a TechRepublic Download.

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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.

15 comments
keng
keng

I had four items in the drop down box. Music, pictures, video and mixed media. For each of the first three items I selected "no action" and for the last items I selected the option to "open files folder". I only clicked on "Apply" and "OK" after the last item. Now when I insert the flash drive I get nothing. The flash drive does not show up in "My Computer" or in "Explorer". How do I reverse my previous actions so the the flash drive shows up?

tothushara
tothushara

thank you very musc it is very usefull

Las tech
Las tech

It still has to scan all the files on the drive. I have a USB box w/ 2) 500GB in it. It would take forever to scan. I have always just canceled the scans and proceeded to view files. Ideally we should be able to turn off the file scan and just open explorer.

jbowne
jbowne

I am running XP professional, and when I follow your instructions, it does not remember the settings, I still get the AutoPlay dialog box. Is there another step I am not doing?

emsanes
emsanes

thanks for the post!

bmbufalo
bmbufalo

Do you have to do this on every computer you use the flash drive on or is it saved on the drive itself?

Aled
Aled

Hmmm, not seen that one before. Have you added a network drive since carrying that out? If you have, that would explain it. However, go to 'My Computer' right-click and select 'manage'. In the left pane of the MMC, select 'Disk Management'. Does the drive show up in the bottom right hand pane? If so, assign it a new drive letter (My favourite is U for USB, as F for Flash is a network drive), but make sure the letter you choose isn't already assigned to a drive. NOTE: The network drives don't show up in Disk Manager, but the USB & other drives such as extra HDD's and CDROMs do. Close the MMC and you should now see your flash drive in 'My Computer'. If that hasn't worked for you, have you tried the flash drive in a different computer?

rpb_
rpb_

I've been doing this for ages now, but when I first tried it I figured you could just select each file type and pick the action. You have to click Apply after each one or it doesn't remember it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If you look at a disk or your flashdrive, there should be an autostart.ini or something similar. I'm not sure exactly what it's called but if I remember from looking at it long ago; you just need to create a basic one that opens the explorer or runs your menu app. The only variable should be if the computer has autoplay enabled for removable media.

keng
keng

The drive showed up in Disk Management as Drive E. I solved the problem by doing a system restore to earlier that same morning. That restored the system so that the drive showed up in My Computer and Explorer. I'm sure that there is another way, but this way was quick and easy.

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