How To Map a Local Windows Folder to a Drive Letter

Dave Drager 08-04-2008

Why would you want to map a folder to a drive letter? Maybe some folder you work with constantly is hidden under a convoluted folder structure, like:

    ‘U:\Data\User Files\Shared\Clients\VIPClient\Pensky File\Project 232\’

Wouldn’t it be easier to refer to it as: R:\ ?

This is pretty common to do with network locations under Tools -> Map Network Drive. However I didn’t know of a way to do this with local folders until recently. You can either do it via command line or use a simple program known as Visual Subst.

(1) Using “subst” command

Under Windows, there is a legacy dos command named “subst”:

C:\>subst /?
Associates a path with a drive letter.

SUBST [drive1: [drive2:]path]
SUBST drive1: /D

drive1: Specifies a virtual drive to which you want to assign a path.
[drive2:]path Specifies a physical drive and path you want to assign to
a virtual drive.
/D Deletes a substituted (virtual) drive.

Type SUBST with no parameters to display a list of current virtual drives.


(2) Visual Subst


Fortunately there is an easier way to utilize this command than having to remember the command line every time you want to use your files. The free windows program Visual Subst will manage these drives for you.


This program will not only allow you to create these ‘Virtual Drives’ but will also set them up on reboot.

From their site, download the installer if you plan on having it apply the virtual drives on startup. That way, it will install a start menu link for you and give you ready access to all virtual drives.

For anyone who works with a long folder name constantly, you will find that this really helps out when you are dealing with anything that needs to access these folders a lot!

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  1. Tom Burke
    October 27, 2016 at 1:08 am

    The title of your article is how to map a folder to a drive letter, but you are doing the exact opposite. You are mapping a drive letter to a folder. I would like to map a folder to a drive letter such as mapping "d:\Data\Test" to the J:\ drive. So whenever you go to d:\Data\Test, you will see the contents of J:\.

    • DJ Scruff
      December 15, 2016 at 3:55 am

      This can be done from the Disk Management tool in windows. It's actually referred to as "Mounting a drive in a folder."

      Here's how:
      1. Open the Disk Managment tool from the Control Panel.
      2. Right-click your chosen drive and choose "Change Drive Letter and Paths..."
      3. Push the "Add" button.
      4. Choose "Mount in the following empty NFTS folder:" then browse to the folder you want to mount the drive to. Press OK, then press OK again.


  2. Niki Kidman
    September 9, 2016 at 5:44 am

    The most easiest way of hiding privacy is by means of apps. Take a look on LEO Privacy in the Android Market.
    It is the most advanced tool to manage your secrets and also photos of your documents.

  3. JanHgm MakeUseOff
    April 16, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Dashes got lost.

    Registery map

    In this map one sees a lot of other bootups.
    Good opportunity to learn what others stuff is started with boot up too.
    If you delete or invalid one of the other command lines it won't boot any longer.

  4. JanHgm MakeUseOff
    April 16, 2015 at 11:17 am

    little late reply but one can do this without any additional utils

    Just add the fully qualified substitute command
    .... your windows ... subst.exe [VirtualDriveletter]: [RealDriveLetter]:[YourPath]


    as command line in registery map:

  5. MAX
    March 16, 2009 at 6:27 am

    100% working.....

  6. Dariush
    May 30, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Visual Subst is good, but i have got problem what this program can`t handle. I want do map memory from my phone (nokia) to recover deleted data. Every recovering programs need path started from drive letter (c:/). But the only way to acces to phone memory is from Nokie Phone Browser. I can generate universal path from windows (::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}\::{416651E4-9C3C-11D9-8BDE-F66BAD1E3F3A}\35206102093779\C:\) but this path isnt good for mapping programs.
    Is there any other path to phone memory?? or any other program to recover data from this type of places ??

  7. STEVE
    May 2, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    This looks like EXACTLY what I need.
    But I also need help.
    My windows XP crashed and seems to be unasvable. So I hooked up another hard drive w/ working XP, to boot from. but all my stuff is on the original (now slave)drive and hard to access. How can I use this program to remedy this immediate inconvenience?

  8. Ben
    April 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Still seems easier to use shortcuts..

    • Aibek
      April 10, 2008 at 7:14 am

      Drive icons look prettier. :-)

  9. bob
    April 9, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    It isn't that hard to remembert "subst", now is it?
    And also, when you said the 'Visual Subst' mapped them again at reboot, were you implying that 'subst' itself did not?
    It is just that I don't want to have to download and install yet another app, if I know windows had it built in!