TechProGuild FastAnswer: Change Windows Explorer's default opening folder

By default, Windows Explorer opens in the My Documents folder. If users store data in an alternate location, you can save them unnecessary mouse clicking by directing Explorer to start in any folder you choose. Here's how.

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The problem

Not to be confused with Internet Explorer, which allows users to find information on the Internet, Windows Explorer lets users browse files on their workstations or the network. When users start Windows Explorer to find files on their hard drive, Explorer opens the My Documents folder by default. Although this can be handy when finding files in My Documents itself, if users are storing data files elsewhere on their workstation or the network, starting at My Documents can cause them to do a lot of clicking to find what they're looking for.

The cause

In earlier versions of Windows, Microsoft made the default starting folder the root of the C drive, C:\. However, because most users store files in My Documents, and because of the complicated profile file structure of Windows 2000 and Windows XP, Microsoft decided it would be easier to have Windows Explorer start in My Documents rather than in C:\. This may work for most users, but it might not work for you or the users you support.

The solution

Configuring Explorer to default to a different location is relatively simple. Just follow these instructions:

  1. Open the Start menu and navigate to where the Windows Explorer shortcut is located. Normally, this will be Start | All Programs | Accessories. You can also find the shortcut in the C:\Documents And Settings directory under your profile.

  2. Right-click on the Windows Explorer shortcut and select Properties.

  3. On the Shortcut tab, edit the Target field so that it reads: %systemroot%\explorer.exe /n, /e, x:\folder, where x:\folder is the path to the folder you want Explorer to open in.

  4. Click OK. When you launch Windows Explorer from the Start menu, it will open in the folder you've chosen.

Additional tips

You don't have to change the default folder that Windows Explorer uses just to allow users direct access to the files they want. Alternatively, you may want to simply create a shortcut directly to the folder location, and put the shortcut on the workstation's desktop or in the Start menu.

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