Customizing Explorer

The windows explorer program that comes with Windows 95 (and later) and with Windows NT4 (and later) is a useful way of navigating around your computer to find the files that you want. Unfortunately the copy that is attached to the Start menu always opens straight to C:\ which is often some way from where you want to get.

Actually it is a very simple matter to create shortcuts to any location that you want using explorer. There is one that is created for you as part of the windows install that can be accessed by right clicking on the start button and selecting explore. This one opens the folder containing the contents of your start menu making it easy to add extra options to your start menu or reorganise the ones already there.

So how do we create an explorer shortcut to the location of our choice so that we can quickly get to folders that we are always using?

Well the first thing to do is to open the folder that you wish to contain the shortcut. If you want to create the shortcut on the desktop then either create it somewhere else and move it or use the copy of explorer on the right click menu attached to the start button, go up one level in the folder hierarchy and then select the desktop folder listed there.

The next step is to use the menus at the top of the current view to create a new shortcut. You do this by selecting File then New and finally Shortcut. In Windows NT4 the dialog box that comes up looks like the following, other windows systems will produce a similar window.

Create Shortcut - First Screen

You need to enter the command into this panel to run explorer and supply the necessary parameters to get it to open the folder that you want in the way that you want. For example, I use the following to create a shortcut to open my CD-ROM drive (which I have assigned to K:\) in a single explorer window (just creating a shortcut to the CD-ROM directly will select autostart instead of open).

 %windir%\explorer.exe /n, K:\

With this example command line %windir%\explorer.exe is what connects the shortcut with explorer (you may need to replace %windir% with the location of your windows program folder if the version of windows you are using doesn't understand %windir%), /n, tells explorer to open the shortcut in a new window instead of using the one containing the shortcut, and K:\ identifies the drive (or folder) to be opened (in this case my K:\ drive which is my CD-ROM).

Other options that can also be specified are /e, which will open the two pane version of the explorer view with the folder tree in the left pane (without this you get a single pane with just the current folder content), /root, displays the folder at the top of the folder tree in the two pane view, and /select, displays a folder's (or file's) parent folder with the specified folder (or file) selected).

To complete creating the shortcut all you need then do is click on the next button, give the shortcut a meaningful name, and then click on the finish button.

Congratulations, you now have a shortcut to the folder of your choice. Just repeat the process to create as many shortcuts as you need.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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