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favorites star iconThe Windows file system can be complicated, with folders scattered all over the place and even buried deep under other, hidden folders. If you need quick access to a variety of folders scattered across your file system — or you just want easier access to one or two folders you frequently use — there are a variety of ways you can bookmark these folders and make them more easily accessible.

Windows is packed with many different ways to do this, and that’s without even counting third-party applications that offer their own ways to quickly access files. Whether you’re using Windows 7 or Windows 8, these tips will give you quicker access to your most frequently used folders.

Favorites

The easiest way to bookmark a folder is by using the Favorites section in Windows Explorer 3 Advanced Tips & Tricks For Using Windows Explorer 3 Advanced Tips & Tricks For Using Windows Explorer Windows Explorer is the default Windows file manager. Last week I introduced you to 3 easy ways to improve Windows 7 Explorer by tweaking features and using it to its full potential. In this article,... Read More — named File Explorer in Windows 8. Locate the folder you want to bookmark, then drag and drop it to the Favorites section. You can rearrange your favorites by dragging and dropping them or right-click a favorite and select Remove to remove it from the list.

add-link-to-windows-explorer-favorites

The Favorites section starts to become inconvenient if you want to keep track of a large number of folders, as you can’t create subfolders to organize the list.

Libraries

The libraries feature in Windows 7 and 8 allows you to combine multiple folders into a single view. You can add new folders to the default libraries or create your own custom libraries containing as many folders as you like. This can be a good way to organize related folders in a single place.

Read our guide to getting started with Windows libraries Make Windows 7 & 8 Libraries Work For You Make Windows 7 & 8 Libraries Work For You Libraries, found in Windows 7 and 8. are more than a list of suggested folders for saving documents, music, pictures, and video. Customizing your libraries isn’t just tweaking for the sake of tweaking – with... Read More for more information.

windows 8 libraries

Taskbar Jump List

The jump list feature in Windows 7 and 8 allows you to “pin” recently used documents to your application’s taskbar icons. To pin a folder, drag and drop it to the Windows Explorer icon on your taskbar. You can also right-click the Windows Explorer shortcut on your taskbar, hover over a recently used folder, and click the pin icon to pin that folder.

When you want to access a pinned folder in the future, just right-click the Windows Explorer icon on your taskbar and select the folder you want to access. This works whether Windows Explorer is open or not.

windows-explorer-jump-list-pinning

Start Menu or Start Screen

For easy access to a folder, you could pin it to your Start menu on Windows 7 or Start screen on Windows 8. It will appear in the list of shortcuts or tiles just as a Windows desktop application would.

To pin a folder to your Start menu on Windows 7, drag and drop it from the Windows Explorer window to the Start button in the bottom-left corner of your taskbar.

pin-folder-to-start-menu

To pin a folder to your Start screen Make Windows 8 Sexier With These Background & Theme Tweaks Make Windows 8 Sexier With These Background & Theme Tweaks Does your Windows 8 system look too bland with the default settings? You can customize it in a variety of ways, changing a variety of backgrounds and colors -- whether on the Start screen, lock... Read More on Windows 8, right-click the folder in a File Explorer window and select Pin to Start.

pin-a-folder-to-your-start-screen

Shortcuts

You could also keep track of your important folders by creating shortcuts to them. For example, if you use Pidgin as your instant messenger Combine All Your IM Accounts In One Application With Pidgin [Windows & Linux] Combine All Your IM Accounts In One Application With Pidgin [Windows & Linux] Pidgin is a free instant-messaging client that combines all your IM accounts in one simple application. Instead of running several different IM clients that display ads and eat up memory, just use Pidgin. All your... Read More , your Pidgin chat log folder is located at C:\Users\NAME\AppData\Roaming\.purple\logs. It’s very inconvenient to access this folder. If you want to frequently access your log folder, you could create a shortcut that takes you there.

Just right-click the folder you want to create a shortcut of and select Create Shortcut. You can move your shortcut to another folder and even rename it, if you like. Double-clicking the shortcut will take you to the folder associated with the shortcut.

windows-explorer-folder-shortcuts

This can be useful if you just need easier access to a folder or two — you could create shortcuts and dump them in your user folder so they’d be easily accessible along with your documents, downloads, and other standard folders.

If you have more folders, you could create a hierarchical structure for all your shortcuts. In other words, you could have a Shortcuts folder containing subfolders for Development, Communications, Games and other categories of folders. You could place the shortcuts inside of those folders.

Taskbar Shortcuts

You may want to place shortcuts to your frequently used folders on your taskbar, but this doesn’t work on Windows 7 or 8 by default. Dragging a folder to the taskbar will just pin it to your Windows Explorer jump list.

However, Windows 7 and 8 still let you add special “toolbars” to your taskbar. These will work like the old quick launch bar, which was enabled by default on Windows XP. Just right-click your taskbar, point to Toolbars, select New Toolbar, and then create a new folder to hold your shortcuts.

The toolbar on your taskbar will display the contents of the folder you choose, so all you have to do is create shortcuts to the folder — as we explained above — and place them in this folder. You can also re-enable the old quick launch bar 5 Cool Ways To Customize Your Windows 7 System 5 Cool Ways To Customize Your Windows 7 System Read More , but this isn’t necessary.

folder shortcuts on taskbar

Change the Default Folder

While you can’t pin additional folder shortcuts to the standard taskbar, you can change the default folder that appears when you open your file manager. Just right-click the Windows Explorer icon on your taskbar, right-click the Windows Explorer option in the list (File Explorer on Windows 8), and select Properties.

On the Shortcut tab, add the path of the default folder you want to use to the end of the Target box. For example, if your user account’s name is Chris and you want to open your Downloads folder every time you open Windows Explorer from your taskbar, you’d use the following line:

%windir%\explorer.exe C:\Users\Chris\Downloads

set-default-folder-for-windows-explorer

If the path you want to use has a space, you’ll need to enclose the entire path in quotation marks. For example, if you wanted your Program Files folder to open every time you opened Windows Explorer, you’d use the following line instead:

%windir%\explorer.exe “C:\Program Files”

Third-Party File Managers

Some third-party file managers have bookmarks menus that work just like the ones in your browser. They allow you to bookmark many folders and arrange them into different categories, or subfolders.

To get advanced bookmark features in your file manager, you’d have to switch to a third-party file manager Fun & Useful Alternatives For Windows Explorer Fun & Useful Alternatives For Windows Explorer Windows Explorer – now known as File Explorer in Windows 8 – is a mainstay of the Windows desktop. No matter how many alternative programs Windows tweakers use, most people seem to stick with the... Read More . Explorer++ Forget Windows Explorer, Explorer++ Is The Perfect, Powerful Alternative Forget Windows Explorer, Explorer++ Is The Perfect, Powerful Alternative Read More is a good option that includes an browser-like Bookmarks menu.

explorer  -nested-file-management-bookmarks

Comedy Option: Bookmark in Your Browser

If you’re like most people, you probably spend most of your computer time in a browser. You could actually bookmark your favorite folders directly in your browser, so they’d be accessible from your browser toolbar — you could even store shortcuts to your folders in your bookmark folders along with your bookmarked websites.

To start browsing your C: drive, type file:///c:/ into Chrome or Firefox’s address bar and press Enter. You’ll see a special view where you can browse your file system. You can’t do much with this by default — just view your files in your browser.

However, if you install the IE Tab extension for your browser Use Internet Explorer in Google Chrome With IE Tab Use Internet Explorer in Google Chrome With IE Tab Internet Explorer users and IE-only websites still exist, so even Chrome fans have to use IE occasionally. Why bother launching Internet Explorer when you can run it in a browser tab? IE Tab is ideal... Read More , you can actually get a Windows Explorer view in a browser tab and manage your files without leaving your browser. With IE Tab, this becomes a fairly practical option.

use internet explorer in google chrome

Thanks to our readers on MakeUseOf Answers, who inspired this article with their discussion!

How do you keep track of all your favorite folders and quickly access them? Leave a comment with any other tricks you have!

Image Credit: Star via Shutterstock

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  16. Sastry Durvasula
    January 15, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks Chris, for your tips

  17. brparsley
    January 2, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks. I've been looking for a way to do this for months.

  18. Passerby
    July 23, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Nice! I have been wondering for a while now about how to change the default folder of windows explorer in the task bar. I don't use library so it's kinda useless to have windows explorer point to it.

  19. Ellen O
    July 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for this! I did not know you could add stuff to Windows Explorer (which seems to be called "My Computer" on my desktop - maybe my computer guru renamed it that when he set up my system so that I'd know what it was!) Anyway, I just dragged my main "user" folder over to "Favorites" and voila - no more having to minimize everything to access it from the desktop or going through the whole decision tree starting with "C:" and moving on down. Plus I moved some stuff into the picture and music libraries.

    Seriously - it took me about five minutes to implement some of your suggestions and those five minutes will save TONS of time! THANKS!

  20. Adrian
    July 15, 2013 at 5:37 am

    I use the Taskbar Jump List a lot. But, in Windows 8.1 dragging a folder to the explorer icon on the taskbar no longer works. Hopefully this is a bug that will be fixed in the release version of 8.1.

  21. Victor O
    July 14, 2013 at 1:49 am

    If you put "explorer.exe" in front of a folder path, windows 7/8 allows you to pin it directly to the taskbar.

  22. Brandon L
    July 13, 2013 at 1:52 am

    Organization is KEY! I keep my computer tidy.

  23. Joe Perrin
    July 13, 2013 at 1:36 am

    I use an application called Listary for system wide, fast, easy access to favorite folders, applications and websites.

    It's worth a look.

    I'm not affiliated with Listary in any way. Just a very happy user of it :)

    • Midrik
      July 26, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Wow! Listary is awesome, thanks for the tip :)

    • Anton
      January 28, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      You guys should definitely try FilesMarker. You will be surprise enough, trust me ;)

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        Can't find Filesmarker, Listary is just awesome.