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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
More Windows Explorer tips from readers who want to get the most out of their file manager

IN MY JULY 3 column, I described a number of little-known switches that control the objects that Windows Explorer focuses on when opened (see "Use secret Explorer switches to control your file manager in Windows 9x/2000"). For example, you can make Explorer open with your Windows folder highlighted instead of the root of C: (as in Windows 98) or the My Documents folder (as in Windows 2000).

As a result of that column, a lot of readers sent me comments and tips about Explorer. I guess Explorer is used so much every day that people want to know all about it. So this column is devoted to my readers' new tips.

To summarize my July 3 column, you can drag your Explorer shortcut from its original position in a Start submenu onto the Start button itself, creating a copy that you can modify without harming the original.

Once you've done this, you can right-click your new Explorer shortcut, then click Properties. In the dialog box that appears, change the command line to something like this: explorer.exe /n,/e,/select,c:\docs\my.doc.

This command line makes Explorer start up focused on the C:\Docs folder and with My.doc selected. Instead of a document, you can put any folder after the /select switch, such as C:\, D:\, C:\Windows, and so on.

Readers Bill Adney and Greg Martin point out that, in Win98 Second Edition and NT 4 with Service Pack 6a, the command line may say explorer.scf. Change this to explorer.exe to use the switches described here.

Philip Leonard thought it was fine to open Explorer focused on the root of C:. But what he really wants is to see all of his drives nonexpanded so he can expand just the one he wishes to work with at the moment.

To do this, use the following command line. In this case, you don't use the /select switch. But you do need to type the parameter exactly as shown, all on one line, including the colons, curly braces, and four hyphens: explorer.exe/n,/e,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}.

In case you're curious why this gobbledygook works, search for My Computer in the following Microsoft document:

The table you'll find in this document names some objects other than My Computer on which you can make Explorer focus, such as My Network Places. You can also insert a /root switch to prevent users from exploring above a certain point in the Explorer tree view.

Tim Adams thinks readers may want to change the behavior of the My Computer icon so it's more Explorer-like. When My Computer is double-clicked, he prefers it to open with a dual-pane Explorer look rather than the single-window Mac look. Of course, you can open My Computer with the Explorer look by right-clicking My Computer and then clicking Explore. But Adams prefers that My Computer defaults to the Explorer look.

To do this in Windows 2000:

1. Start Windows Explorer, then click Tools, Folder Options.

2. Click the File Types tab, then scroll down to extension type N/A and select Folder. (Don't select File Folder.)

3. Click the Advanced button, then select the action Explore. Click the Set Default button, then click OK and Close.

To do this in Windows 98 and Windows NT:

1. Start Windows Explorer, then click View, Folder Options.

2. Click the File Types tab, then scroll down to Folder (it's in alphabetical order).

3. Click the Edit button, then select the action Explore. Click the Set Default button, then click Close twice.

The next time you double-click the My Computer icon, it will open in an Explorer-style double-pane view.

Adams is also a big fan of the the Windows Logo Key on newer keyboards. This isn't exactly a secret, but it can make it a lot faster to access Explorer features.

For example, holding down the Windows key and pressing E opens an Explorer dual-pane window. Windows+F opens the Find dialog box, and Windows+R opens Run.

In Windows 98, Windows+D minimizes all applications or restores them if they're all minimized. In Windows 2000, it's Windows+M (don't ask).

You can see more shortcuts by clicking Start, Help. In Windows 98, click the Index tab, then type "Windows logo key" and click Display. In Windows 2000, click the Index tab, then type "keyboard shortcuts," select "for Natural Keyboard," and click Display.

For more on the explorer.exe switches, go to and search for article ID Q237494. This links to two other Q documents, one for Windows 9x and the other for Windows NT/2000.

Readers Adney, Martin, Leonard, and Adams will receive free copies of Windows 2000 Secrets for submitting tips I printed.

You can receive this column via e-mail. Go to


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