Microsoft

Quick Tip: Make Windows 8 File Explorer launch in Computer view

With the right code you can change the default settings of Windows 8 File Explorer.
By default, when you launch File Explorer from the icon pinned to Windows 8's desktop taskbar, you see a window that displays the Libraries folder, as shown in Figure A. However, since most people do not use really use Libraries, this tends to be more of an annoyance than a convenience. For example, if what you are really after is the Computer view, then you have to perform a couple of additional clicks. Of course, this really isn't tremendous amount of effort, but it can be frustrating nonetheless.

Figure A

Clicking the File Explorer icon pinned to Windows 8's desktop taskbar opens the Libraries folder by default.

Wouldn't it be better if clicking this icon directly opened Computer? Well fortunately, you can easily customize the shortcut to make that happen.

Open with Computer view

To begin, right click on the File Explorer icon on the taskbar to bring up the Jump List. Then, right click on the File Explorer command towards the bottom of the list and select the Properties command from the context menu. This process is illustrated in Figure B.

Figure B

When you Jump List appears, right click on the File Explorer command and select Properties.
When you see the Properties dialog box, select the text in the Target text box, as shown in Figure C. Then, replace it with this command line:
%windir%\explorer.exe ::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}

To complete the operation, just click OK.

Figure C

Replace the text in the Target text box to change the folder that opens when you click the File Explorer icon.

Now when you click the File Explorer icon on the taskbar, you'll see Computer, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

The File Explorer icon on the taskbar will now open Computer.

GUID command line

For those of you who may be wondering, the command line shown above takes advantage of a GUID (Globally Unique Identifier), which is the sequence of characters enclosed in the brackets. Every object in the Windows environment has a GUID that is stored in the registry and passing the GUID to the specially configured explorer.exe command as a parameter allows Windows to access that object. (Keep in mind that the GUIDs in Windows are also referred to as CLSIDs.)

If you would like to reconfigure the File Explorer icon on the taskbar to point to other common navigation points, you can just replace the GUID portion of the command line. In Table A, you'll find a couple more command lines for accessing other objects in Windows.

Table A

Folder Display

Command Line

Documents %windir%\explorer.exe ::{450D8FBA-AD25-11D0-98A8-0800361B1103}
Network %windir%\explorer.exe ::{208D2C60-3AEA-1069-A2D7-08002B30309D}
Homegroup %windir%\explorer.exe ::{B4FB3F98-C1EA-428d-A78A-D1F5659CBA93}
Libraries %windir%\explorer.exe ::{031E4825-7B94-4dc3-B131-E946B44C8DD5}

Also read:

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.

51 comments
Ander_z
Ander_z

For what it's worth, I found a way to do it: Install a free app called OldNewExplorer. You can choose to hide the Libraries folders when you view This PC, as well as replacing the "ribbon" with the classic menu and other things.

Ander_z
Ander_z

Wow, an author who answers his (rational) comments. Cool!

I really hoped this tip would work. Unfortunately—as someone pointed out—it no longer does in Windows 8.1. Is there any other way to create a shortcut to the Drives and Devices section of This PC, so you can open a window immediately showing your root storage areas?

spicetrader
spicetrader

Unfortunately, MSFT seems to have fixed this capability with 8.1, so that we can no longer type in the Target: field.

UltimaRatioRegum
UltimaRatioRegum

Nice - thanks for that elegantly simple explanation to a perennially annoying issue. 

jackharvest
jackharvest

THANK YOU. Worked like a charm on Windows 8.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...because there is indeed a GUID that will allow you to open File Explorer right into the Favorites folder: %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{323CA680-C24D-4099-B94D-446DD2D7249E} As you can see, it is configured with a slightly different command line, but it works perfectly. ;-)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Is there a GUID that will open Explorer to the Favorites? Maybe if Explorer opened to them then I'd remember they existed. Thanks either way.

Webminotaur
Webminotaur

Greg, Since I now know how to get to the Properties, I tried the same code I used in XP, and it also worked. Here is what I've used since Win 95. %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /n,/e, NOTE: Be sure to include the final comma in the string.

Webminotaur
Webminotaur

I was looking for something like this since I installed Win 8. With Win 95 - XP the code was just a couple of add-on letters to the open command. This one is much more complex, but works.

rfcdvc45
rfcdvc45

This registry value no longer exists in Windows 8. Apparently it only existed in the pre-release editions.

rfcdvc45
rfcdvc45

Greg, I too am using Windows 8 Professional. This same unintended consequence of creating an additional instance of Explorer was also a problem in Windows 7. For the record, I have not mis-typed the target line. After pasting in the your suggested target line, and then checking in Taskmanager (details tab), a second instance of Explorer is indeed created and consuming additional memory, once Explorer is launched from the taskbar. And, if I subsequently check under the Processes tab, it shows up once under Apps and again under Processes. So where am I going wrong here?

Craig_B
Craig_B

I'm still using Windows 7 so these comments are base on that. I use libraries to link local and network data together and find them very useful. I can search within libraries and find data where ever it's located. I also take advantage of Favorites which are simply shortcuts to folders. If I find I'm returning to the same data area often, I create a Favorite in Explorer and with one click I'm there, quick and easy.

sebailey4
sebailey4

Or you can just click the Computer icon instead of File explorer if you want to open My Computer. Basically have both options then. Good tip though and the other options may be nice to setup desktop shortcuts to.

PeterM42
PeterM42

What about changing the properties to something like: " %windir%\explorer.exe C:\DATA " or whatever suits you (like a network share if you keep your data on another machine)?

rfcdvc45
rfcdvc45

This tweak does indeed change the opened view to Computer view. However, the unintended consequence -- it also launches another instance of the Windows Explorer process.

scratchbaker
scratchbaker

The number of articles walking users through major GUI tweaks really shows how poorly thought out Windows 8 was for desktop and laptop users. Whenever I am forced to migrate from XP SP3, I will at this point go to Windows 7.

bsmi021
bsmi021

I am finding quite amusing that Tech republic keeps trying the bash windows 8, like this article, "who uses library's?" well you are correct most do not but it is not because that do not like, it is my experience with hundreds of users (they do not even know what it is, or why to use it) people in the tech arena need to come out of there cave and realize how real users use their computers, and other that a computer geek who has to change most all of what is built in to their own way, no one else changes anything!! So other than a tech who might use some short cut to do a fix that is common, or some word, or excel thing that you as a user do over and over most of these changes are a one off for someone who has nothing better to do with there time!

Caeedil
Caeedil

If the object of this article is to show the use of the GUID objects, well then ok. A more simplistic way to get my computer on your desktop without looking up registry files. 1. right click the desktop, then select "personalize" from the menu 2. select "change desktop" icons on the left hand column 3. put a check mark in the box next to "Computer" 4. select OK to apply

amj2010
amj2010

If you are smart, and we think you are, you'll NEVER put permanently your precious data in those Libs. Only temperately and when you're done, immediately transfer them to your other HD on which you store your data. This has another bonus, when you crash, you rarely will, you'll never lose data which you have build up all the time, and only have to Restore your system which Windows will gladly perform for you. We use WeeEight from December last year and our experiences are mixed, MS should have brought out different versions for Tablet, Mobile, Laptop and Desktop, but they didn't, cause they know it all in their wisdom....

grayknight
grayknight

They actually work quite nice, once you get used to them.

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

Too much typing for me. Shorter, and more useful, is: C:\Windows\explorer.exe /n,C:\ This and similar switches work on all versions of Windows.

jcball5
jcball5

Glory be! What a great trick! Tried it the second that I finished the article and it works perfectly. Works on Win7 as well.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Most of my data is on removable drives, which can't be added to libraries (in Win7), so libraries end up being in the way. Every time Windows pops up a File dialog, it defaults to the libraries, which I can't use, so I have to navigate my way to my removable drive to get to my files..each and every time...many times a day. Individually those delays aren't significant; a few seconds at most. But added up over time, I'd guess they've cost me hours, possibly days, of lost time while I repeat the same clicks over and over and over again. Libraries seem like one of those ideas that sound good on paper, but fail in the real world. I can see them as being a nice way to group commonly used locations together, but without the ability to work with removable drives or provide an easy way to change (and remember) the default location, libraries are an annoyance and waste my time. As far as changing Windows to behave as described in the article, I would love to, but I can't find those properties in Win7. Are those unique to Win8?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...misunderstood what you are seeing in Task Manager. I thought that when you clicked the icon you were seeing two Windows Explorer windows. What you have to remember is that the main program in Windows is called explorer.exe and that is what you are seeing and thinking is a second instance of File Explorer. For example, reboot your system so that you are looking at a fresh instance of the operating system. When the system reboots and you log in, immediately launch Task Manager, go to the Processes tab, scroll down to the Windows Processes section, you will find an instance titled Windows Explorer. If you go to the Details tab, you will find an instance of explorer.exe. They are the same, just reported on each tab. Now, launch File Explorer from the shortcut on the taskbar. When you do, you will see that there are now two instances of explorer.exe on the details tab. One for the operating system and one for File Explorer. Go back to the Processes tab and you will see Windows Explorer in the Apps section and when you scroll down to the Windows Processes section, you will find Windows Explorer. Again, one for the operating system and one for File Explorer. Launch File Explorer again and you will find three Windows Explorer instances on the Processes tab and three explorer.exe instance on the Details tab. Let me know if you have any other questions.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

At least, I could use them effectively if I remember that I created them...

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...on multiple Windows 8 systems and have not encountered the problem you describe as an unintended consequence. Nor have I heard from anyone else encountering such a problem. I suspect that you must have mistyped the command in the Target text box. Please go back to your File Explorer Properties dialog box and double check your work.

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

Setting up Win8 to work with a classis Windows start menu is just a matter of changing a single registry value for 1 to 0. HKCU - SOFTWARE - MICROSOFT - WINDOWS - CURRENT VERSION - EXPLORER Change the RPC Enabled value from 1 to 0. Exit, refresh desktop and you have a standard Windows Start menu. It takes less than 2 minutes and you have your START menu back again as always. From there, config is pretty straight forward for other Windows features.

JJFitz
JJFitz

"The number of articles walking users through major GUI tweaks really shows how" much people are resistant to change. My grilled cheese sandwich is always cut on a diagonal! If you cut it any other way, it will not taste as good! By the way, the library is not a new concept unique Windows 8. To claim that this article is evidence of a poorly thought out OS is to claim that previous iterations were just as poorly thought out.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...not sure where you are seeing a "bash" to Windows 8. I didn't say "who uses libraries?" What I said was "However, since most people do not use really use Libraries, this tends to be more of an annoyance than a convenience." I am in fact a proponent of Libraries (See "Tap into the power of Libraries in Windows 7" - http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/window-on-windows/tap-into-the-power-of-libraries-in-windows-7/1678) even though I have written about how to bypass them (See Remove Libraries from Windows Explorer in Windows 7 - http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/window-on-windows/remove-libraries-from-windows-explorer-in-windows-7/3401)

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

Libraries are just shortcuts to folder paths. They save you from going back and forth in Explorer to navigate folder trees. Copying, moving etc is just much easier. If you back up your data, nothing will be lost in event of a catastrophic failure. Using libraries doesn't have any effect on data recovery at all.

rick@Hogans-Systems.com
rick@Hogans-Systems.com

Libraries are just logical collections of files from different locations. In my case, my Documents library points to folders on a hard drive in my machine, as well shared folders on my server. I generally save everything in one of the shared folders on the server, because the server gets backed up daily. Rick

rick@Hogans-Systems.com
rick@Hogans-Systems.com

In my business, I have a variety of different types of files in different locations. For example, I have various documents (Word, Excel, etc.) in my own personal folders. I also have documents in a shared folder on my server, which we all have access to. It's nice to put all these different sets of documents into one Library and have everything tied together in one location. In the same way, we have photos, artwork for ads, videos, audio files, etc., where some are personal and some are shared. So, again, it is nice to group different types of files from different locations into one Library. It works for me, but as usual, it is something that you have to spend a few minutes trying to learn to use and take advantage of. It will never work for the folks who refuse to learn anything new, or invest any effort into trying something different. Rick

GAProgrammer
GAProgrammer

For a home user, who may have lots of music, video, and pics, I think the Libraries are useful. However, for work users (especially small business or contractors), they are much less useful. There's no good way to create "libraries" for both groups as they have two very different needs. On a side note, if you are using synchronization and use another file system for projects, having a Documents folder is very nice for centrally managing hundreds of computers and their backups, as well as moving the user from computer to computer every 3-5 years.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Especially those libraries for content types I don't use, like Video and Music. I don't store by data by content type, I store it by related project. I don't scatter it all over my local and network drives, I stick it all in my My Documents folder (which has been redirected to a network share). After putting up with them for months after installing W7, I ditched them when TR published the article Mark references above.

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

You are right, a grilled cheese sandwich does taste better cut diagonally. There is less crust in each bite.Plus that's the way my mum always does it and she's always right. People will complain if a traffic light is the wrong colour green, people are resistant to change, which makes them good repeat consumers. in my line of work I see benefits in both. The steadfast will continue to buy older product and help keep clear old stock. New adopters are great guinea pigs.

dogknees
dogknees

.. for each user. If you use media, create media libraries, if it's a set of folders that you need for a project, create a library and add those folders. Why would you want to have the same ones for everyone?

dogknees
dogknees

You don't have to use them that way. You can create a Library for a project that make several separate folders available in one place. There are all sorts of other uses like this.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I just don't remember that I've created them. I create them, then keep navigating the tree anyway.

JJFitz
JJFitz

The total crust to bread ratio is still the same whether or not you cut the grilled cheese sandwich diagonally.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

To the point that I often make grilled cheese with the heels.

dogknees
dogknees

You can include the same folder in multiple libraries so you don't have to move them together. It's useful when you have folders that are relevant to several projects.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Instead, they point to different locations on a hard disk or external drive attached to your computer. This gives you easy access to a category of files no matter where they are stored." My point is, I don't store files by type or category in the first place. I store related files in the same folder to begin with. All my fantasy racing files are in one folder. All my photos are in related directories under the same top-level directory. Downloaded installation files, National Geographic wallpapers, 'How Tos' and reference material, network access requests and authorizations; whatever. I'm sure there are plenty of cases where they're useful, even for people who understand the basic of file organization. However, they don't fill any need for me. They're just in my way, and they should be deletable from a right-click menu, or at least from an Options setting.

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

Libraries let you access and arrange items from one or more folders quickly without moving them from their original location. Libraries themselves don't store your files or folders. Instead, they point to different locations on a hard disk or external drive attached to your computer. This gives you easy access to a category of files no matter where they are stored. Think of it as a shortcut to a group of files or folders. You can leave your existing file structure as is and just decide which folders belong to a Library, it's just like grouping folders. They will still be in their original locations even after being added to a library, the library is just a shortcut system. I didn't use it for a while and then I realized that I could take all my various band websites, demo tracks, collateral info etc and just add them all to one group so I don't have to keep going back and navigating through various folders. Just open an Explorer window. Right click on the folder and click on Include in Library, and click on an available library to include the folder in. I have folders spread out over my HD, which are grouped by Videos - Audio Engineering - Web graphics - Press Kits etc Without changing any of that, I have quick access to all band info by adding them to Libraries I created for each band, CD etc. When I'm saving a video file, I still save it in the same old location as always, it just shows up in the Library group too for easy access.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

then I create a folder and put them in it, just like I did before Libraries. Am I missing an advantage?

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