Always Show Folders in Windows Explorer

Are You sick of clicking on the “Folders” button to see the folder tree everytime you open Windows Explorer? Here are the simple steps to make that folder tree show by default.

  • Click Start > Control Panel > Folder Options
  • Click the File Types tab.
  • Page down until you locate the icon that looks like a folder in the “Extensions” column.
  • It will have the word “(NONE)” after the icon and the “File Types” column will show Folder. Not “File Folder”, but just “Folder”. Select that entry and click the Advanced button. From that window you can set the default action to “explore” and click “OK”. Click “OK” again to close out of the Folder Options.

Now you will see the split view everytime you open Windows Explorer.

35 thoughts on “Always Show Folders in Windows Explorer”

  1. Allen says:

    I followed these instructions and now my Explorer specifically does NOT open a folder tree view when I open it. I can’t delete the “explore” action from those Advanced settings either. What is happening here?

    1. NoZparker says:

      Click on the set default button

  2. Danny says:

    Thank you for a simple fix to something that has driven me crazy for years!

  3. Travis says:

    Even though it was back in 08/08, the reason Allen could not get this to work is he did not click the “set as default” button. Follow the instructions above but once you highlight “explore” make sure you click the “set as default” button for this to work. Then if you ever want to change it back, follow the same steps but highlight “open” and click the “set as default” button.

    1. lams says:

      Thanks that was the KEY piece missing, works like a charm, left panel tree of folders, right panel selected folder; also the ‘my computer’ and ‘my documents’ now pop up this way which is really damn useful, more than the sill default panel and each time having to click the ‘folders’ button…!

  4. Amit says:

    Thanks, worked fine for me!

  5. johan says:

    Worked fine, at first forgot that ‘Set as default’ button, great stuff!

  6. Luis Espinoza says:

    tanks, tanks, tanks so much men

  7. Jon says:

    Thanks, this has been drivin’ me crazy!!

  8. Nin says:

    I did this and when I open the regular Windows Explorer, I do get the Folders pane — thank you. However, is there a way for this to be in effect for shortcuts. I create many shortcuts of the Windows Explorer icon for my desktop to take me to the folders I use the most. I’m still not getting the folders pane on those. I created a new one to see if it would only be in effect for subsequently created shortcuts, but still no folders pane. Maybe I’m not setting up the shortcut correctly. I highlight the folder icon for Windows Explorere, select Create Shortcut from the context menu, then move it to my desktop. Then I open properties and change the Target from
    %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe “O:\”
    %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe O:\
    Apply, OK
    Now when I double-click on that icon, I do go to the O: drive, but no Folders pane.

    Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    Thank you.

  9. Nin says:

    By the way, I also tried COPY the Windows Explorer icon and PASTE on the desktop as well as Create Shortcut. No folders pane in either case.

  10. Nin says:

    Well, I kept at it and found the answer. I made Target just O:\ and it opened to the O: driver with a Folders pane.


  11. John says:

    Alternately you can save the following lines of text to a file named ‘Always_Explore_Folders.reg’
    The import into the windows registry by double clicking the file after you save it.

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



  12. Bob C says:

    Worked fine for me but in reverse… I couldn’t get rid of the folders view, the darn thing always came up.


  13. Prasad says:

    Would be really great, if you emphasize the following:

    1) If “explore” option is not bold, then you haven’t clicked “set as default”. “set as default” must be clicked after selecting the “explore” option and ensure “explore” turns bold after clicking “set as default”.
    2) Still doesn’t work, look at the Target field. Remove “%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe O:\” and just have “O:\” and this should do the trick.

    Thanks a lot anyways.

  14. unstrung says:

    Brilliant!!! Thank you for solving something that has been bugging me for over a year 🙂

  15. jdlee says:

    Thank you! That was making me crazy.

  16. panaroL says:

    great! works fine for me. have been thinking of doing this for few months. googled this up today, and voila, your pointer works fine! thanks!

  17. animoller says:

    I actually can’t get this to work! Works with standard folders but not shortcuts. They are mapped straight to the drive but the folder list never comes up. Frustrating!

  18. chris says:

    thanks,so easy when you know ……

  19. Aqib Rizvi says:

    Thanks so much, that drove me crazy for years!


  20. SINEKT says:

    Well how about the fact that after setting this, EVERY folder opens in a NEW explorer window ? How do I get rid of this and still have the tree view?

  21. k. nash says:

    YES! thank you !

  22. M E says:

    Brilliant. Thanks!

  23. DailyUser says:

    Worked perfectly for me. Thanks!

  24. Hans says:

    thank you so much

  25. Sorry, but this simply does not work with my XP SP3 machine. I follow the steps outlined and have confirmed that “explore” is set as the default (the word “explore” is now in bold type), but when I open a folder it still opens it without the folder tree. I’ve redone this a couple of times just in case there was a momentary glitch, but same result. Could this have to do with not having a second “ok” button when exiting? While setting the default, I see 2 ok buttons, but as I click on the first “ok” to set the default, the other “ok” button changes to “close”. I don’t see any reason why this should make a difference, but since this seems to work for eveyone else, there can’t be any other reason why it is not working on my machine. As I typed this, I started wondering, do I have to reboot to set the default?

    1. Vic Till says:

      I have two XP SP3 machines one runs Windows Professional the other Windows Home. This tip works on the professional but not on the home. I gave up years ago trying to get it to work on the second machine believing that this is something you lose with the cut down version of Windows.

  26. Janine says:

    OH WOW Thank you so much. AWESOME.

  27. Anh Le says:

    Thanks ! Thank you so much !
    I want to do this a long time ago, but I can’t. And that made me crazy several years !
    Now I’ve done ! Wow, this is great !
    Thanks again !

  28. JB says:

    For the XP with SP3 users having issues. I added the suggestions from the original post and also played with a couple registry entries that did the trick (set the BrowserFlags to match the ExplorerFlags (21)):

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


    Once I did this I always get the folder pane now.

  29. kenzi says:

    Thank you! This has been bugging me for years also. Works on my Windows XP Professional SP3.

  30. Dirty says:

    Simplest and most clear instructions ever! Thanks

  31. Bri says:

    Been try to do this for years typical microsoft most useful stuff is hidden. then they update to a less useful version because “they” know we want it, file and data management just gets harder.

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