Access Frequently Used System Folders Instantaneously in Windows XP & Vista

As an experienced user, you frequently work in system folders such as ‘System32’, ‘My Network Places’ and ‘Programs’, but find navigating through the Windows Explorer directory structure very annoying. You can open the desired folder directly in Explorer using some shortcuts. In this way you can access the frequently used system folders quickly.

To do this,

  • Open the ‘Start > Run…’ dialog under XP, or ‘Start > All Programs > Accessories > Run’ under Vista. The Run dialog box can also be accessed using the keyboard combination [Win]+[R] in both.
  • Type ‘shell:<Name>‘ in the input  field and confirm the same with ‘OK’.
  • Doing this is much faster than inputting the entire directory path in the address bar. For instance, the command ‘shell:profile’ opens the profile folder in Windows Explorer, where profile is the name for the folder path would be something like ‘C:\Documents and Settings\PC’



System Folder

shell:profile User profile folder
shell:personal User personal files

My Network Places (only XP)

shell:programfiles Program Files folder
shell:internetfolder IE home page

shell:common administrative tools

System Management Tools

shell:windows Windows folder
shell:system System32 folder


Environment Variable

System Folder

%userprofile% User profile folder

Application data folder

%systemroot% Windows folder
%windir% Windows folder
%temp% Temp files folder
%tmp% Temp files folder

The table above shows which name specifies which folder. Even Windows Environment Variables work just like these names. A list of all defined Environment Variables can be obtained by opening the prompt using ‘cmd.exe’ in the ‘Run’ dialog, and typing the command ‘set’.

Filed under: Windows Vista
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June 8, 2009 by: Prasanth Chandra

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