Windows

Remove Favorites from Windows Explorer in Windows 7

Greg Shultz shows you how to remove Favorites from the navigation pane in Windows 7's Windows Explorer by editing the registry.

I recently showed you how to remove Libraries and HomeGroup from Windows 7's Windows Explorer in the articles: "Remove Libraries from Windows Explorer in Windows 7" and "Remove HomeGroup from Windows Explorer in Windows 7." Soon after those articles were published, I was asked if there was a way to remove Favorites from Windows Explorer. Now personally, I can't think of one good reason for removing such a timesaving feature from Windows Explorer, but some of you are adamant that you want to remove this feature. Therefore, I will acquiesce.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to remove Favorites from the navigation pane in Windows 7's Windows Explorer by editing the registry. However, before I do so, I will take a moment to describe the benefits of the Favorites feature in order to try to convince you to keep it in Windows Explorer.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Making a case for Favorites

I've talked to quite a few people about Favorites in Windows 7 and discovered that not many people are taking advantage of this timesaving feature because they really don't understand the scope of its usefulness. Now, if you've ever created shortcuts on your desktop to the folders that you access most often, whether they are on your local hard disk or on a network server, then you already have a grasp of the basic feature of Favorites. However, there is more to it, so let's take a closer look.

Creating Favorites

It's easy to add folders to the Favorites section. For example, I regularly access the TechRepublic folder on another computer on my network. To make accessing that folder a simple task, I'll add it to the Favorites. To do so, I navigate to and open that folder. I then right-click on the Favorites item in the navigation pane and select the Add Current Location to Favorites command, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

In Windows 7, it's a very simple operation to add folders to the Favorites.
Now, no matter what folder I currently have open in Windows Explorer, I can easily access the TechRepublic folder, as shown in Figure B, without having to navigate through the network. I can just click it in Favorites.

Figure B

Adding the TechRepublic folder to Favorites in Windows Explorer makes it easy to access.

Copying and moving files

In addition to being able to access the TechRepublic folder via Favorites, I can also easily copy or move files across the network to the TechRepublic folder using drag and drop. I just drag the files that I want to copy and drop them on the TechRepublic shortcut in the Favorites tree, as shown in Figure C. To move files, I just hold down [Shift] as I drag and drop.

Figure C

Once you have folders set up in Favorites, you can easily copy and move files to those folders using drag and drop.

Open and Save As

The other timesaving feature of adding commonly accessed folders to Favorites is that they will show up in your application's Open and Save As dialog boxes, as shown in Figure D. As you can imagine, this makes quick work of accessing and creating files across the network.

Figure D

Favorites, and subsequently any folder that you add, also show up in your application's Open and Save As dialog boxes.

Recent Places

Another handy feature of Favorites is Recent Places, which is set up by default. Just open it and you'll find a very comprehensive list of all the folders and places, such as Control Panel tools, that you recently accessed, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Recent Places can be a big time-saver.

Notes

OK, if after reading about all the benefits of using Favorites you still want to remove this feature from Windows 7, well then read on. However, in case you change your mind, I'll also show you how to create a REG file before altering the Registry so that you can quickly and easily undo the change should you later decide that you want to make use of Favorites in Windows Explorer.

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Editing the Registry

Before you begin, you should take a few moments to back up your system by creating a system image in the Backup and Restore tool. That way if anything goes awry, you can restore your system and get right back to work.

To launch the Registry Editor, click the Start button, type regedit in the Start Search box, and press [Enter]. When the UAC dialog box appears, respond appropriately.

Removing Favorites

When the Registry Editor appears, navigate to the following folder:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{323CA680-C24D-4099-B94D-446DD2D7249E}\ShellFolder

When you get there, right-click on ShellFolder and select the Export command, as shown in Figure F. (Take note of the Permissions command as you will use it in the next step.)

Figure F

You'll use the Export command to make a REG file that you can later use to restore the Favorites feature to Windows 7.
When you see the Export Registry File dialog box, choose the folder in which you want to save your REG file and then name the file Show Favorites, as shown in Figure G. You can use this file later to restore the Favorites feature to Windows 7.

Figure G

Save the file with the name Show Favorites so that you can find it easily when and if you need it.
Now, right-click ShellFolder again, and this time, select the Permissions command. When you see the Permissions for ShellFolder dialog box, select Administrators in the Group or User Names panel and then select the Full Control check box in the Permissions for Administrators panel, as shown in Figure H. Click OK to continue.

Figure H

You must set the Permissions for Administrators to Full Control so that you can change the contents of ShellFolder.

Now, right-click on the Attributes value and select the Modify command. When you see the Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value dialog box, you'll see that the default Value Data setting is

a0900100

Now, press backspace to remove the value and type the new value

a9400100

as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

You'll set the set the Value Data to a9400100.
Now click OK, close the Registry Editor, and then log off. When you log back on, you'll see the Favorites no longer show up in Windows Explorer, as shown in Figure J.

Figure J

Favorites no longer show up in Windows Explorer.

What's your take?

Did my explanation of the benefits of Favorites convince you to use this feature rather than remove it? Or, will you use this technique to remove Favorites from Windows Explorer? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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.

31 comments
IppoM
IppoM

I used your remove homegroup and libraries article and am happy with the result. However, while removing favorites, windows doesn't let me change the permissions anymore. It says: 'unable to save permission changes on {323...}. Access is denied'. I am the only user and am administrator. Do I need different permissions for favorites than I need for homegroup and libraries?

turnbull1
turnbull1

How can I remove just one ITEM from the long list of Favorites?   Favorites has been great, but now I need to thin the list.

LambdaFox
LambdaFox

Easier is not always better.  For users and power users, this feature may be a boon.

It does take me a couple of extra steps to do things.  Every time I do, though, I am reinforcing my understanding of the structure and organization of the underlying system.

So, I turn it off.  In my group of friends we have two guys who people go to when their systems get messed up.  The other guy uses all these bells and whistles.  I am the guy my friends come to when he can't getterdone...

gwartnet
gwartnet

How do I add the favorites shortcut to the set of icons on the left. I still have libraries there, but I want favorites there. Some applications do not use the full explorer dialogue boxes.

rcaruso
rcaruso

The best part of the article was what I learned about using favorites.

sam2095
sam2095

Thanks for the tips - I've just discovered how useful this can be for navigating complex networks (ie. instead of shortcuts to deep directories or mappings to drives). Now all I want to do is access it from the Start Menu. Did I miss that bit? How is it done?

chris_black
chris_black

I wish Favourites would stay locked at the top of the column and not scroll off the top when you scroll.

rcfoulk
rcfoulk

For the most part folks simply map a drive letter to something that they need to access with any frequency. I suppose if someone only rarely needed to access a location this could be deemed useful but for such infrequency the good old network recursion never seemed that daunting. I'm for nuking it to further clean up the Explorer interface. I like a lean tool and hanging all of this unnecessary "functionality" on the interface is simply annoying.

kazander
kazander

What I'd really like to see is an article detailing how to make the Favorites like they were in Vista--non-scrolling. The never moved off the top of the page, making them always accessible and always quick to use. I've never managed to figure out why MS decided they needed to change this with Win7.

thanabalan
thanabalan

This is great feature! It's been there for long time but not really known what is the function are. Anyway, here I share some problem that I encounter at workplace where end user tend to keep a lot's of shortcuts on their desktop till they forgot that they do have similar folder been created before and they tend create the same folder for same reason elsewhere and forgot about the earlier folder and files. This create duplication of folders and files.

nolimitsoldier
nolimitsoldier

I have subscribed to Techrepublic.com off and on for sometime and use a lot of your information though I no longer am in the field. I just wanted to say thank you for keeping me on top of things. I don't use favorites but I will keep this tip along with the others just in case.

joe935
joe935

I do not get the menu option to add folder to Favorites. How come? OS : Win 7 Home Premium Found my problem. Thanks

brian
brian

... and now I'm certainly going to be using it, because I have folders all over the place that I want quick access to but don't want to make Libraries. These kinds of features are great for people who work on a variety of different small projects. I have a bunch of little client projects of different types, all well organized on the filesystem, which means fairly deep folder paths. Three or four of them will be relevant for a few months, then get finished and I won't need them again, and new stuff will pop up. Funny that an article about how to remove the feature got me into using it.

Raoofdinho
Raoofdinho

Cannot edit attributes Error writing the value new contents. ?????

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Clicking a Favorite doesn't expand into a tree view. I've still got to scroll down to 'Computer' to easily switch between the subdirectories within that Favorite folder. If I've got to do that, I might as well open from Computer to begin with.

Brenton Keegan
Brenton Keegan

We've been using it in our environment. I have group policy preferences push down favorites based on group membership (think favorites to departmental shares)

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you plan to remove Favorites from the navigation pane in Windows 7's Windows Explorer by editing the registry? Why?

T0nz
T0nz

I had no idea what the Favorites was, so when I saw this article I was interested in how to get rid of it. Thanks to your explanation of what it is and how it can be used, I am not going to remove it. I have a NAS drive at home and have the main folders mapped in Explorer. However, two of the sub-folders I use the most are now added to Favorites, so I no longer have to dig through the sub folders to get to them. I am now wondering what other nice tools are hiding in plain site in Windows 7. Nice article, thanks!

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...skipped the part about setting the Permissions as illustrated in Figure H.

sam2095
sam2095

To expand the drive of the directory you've stored in your Favorites try right clicking the location then "Open in new window". So long as you have selected the option to "Automatically expand to current folder" for the "Navigation Pane" of the "Folder Options" (found in Explorer "Tools") that seems to work for me. A heap easier than drilling down though 8 sub directories...

TG2
TG2

I'm probably not going to explain it correctly ... but on my machine, when I click on a favorite, my Folder View (directly below the favorite links) immediately navigates to the respective folder for that favorite. This allows me to quickly get to my pictures, my download folder (c:\Download not the one under users) and if I double click and open a folder in the right pane, again it shows up in the Folder view on the left... Now what *I* want, is to have the favorites on the bottom of the left side, and have the Folder view be at the top left .. ie reverse of where they are now.. AND While I'm at it.. I want the "New Folder" button or WETFII (what ever the f**k it is) to be on **EVERY** explorer window that has files and folders ... when you go into the Pictures folder the "context" of explorer changes and *I* don't want that ... that's one of my biggest hates of the new windows series (Vista / 7) I mean really, did someone at microsoft actually say aloud "nah why would anyone want quick access to create a 'new folder' under their pictures folder" ... was probably the same person that said "640k! OMG Who in their right mind would ever need more than 640k!" O:-)

john3347
john3347

My experience exactly! I could not have explained it so anyone would have understood what I was explaning. Thanks Palmetto. I use favorites and probably will not remove it, but its value is debatable. Libraries, on the other hand is a serious negative and has no redeeming value. I removed Libraries and Homegroup long ago.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...sharing such a great example of using Favorites in the real world!

jacques.zetune
jacques.zetune

I see no reason to remove this feature, especially after reading this article.

krsmav
krsmav

The only use I can imagine for removing Favorites from WE is that some executive busybody worries that the worker drones might waste time surfing through the subdirectories.

Mr_Tech
Mr_Tech

I personally find the Favorites very useful. I frequently use this feature at home and at work so the answer is I won't be removing it. I hope MS keeps it in future releases of Windows. I drag/drop shortcuts to folders. Words cannot express how much I love this feature.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I find I don't usually need the tree expanded as often as I used to.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

Hehe...think of it as protecting you from Purple whapping ya upside the head with it! Also...don't run with scissors! LOL

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

just can't dig the grave deep enough to keep 'em buried.

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