Make Folders Open in New Windows

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Sometimes we get so accustomed to doing things a certain way that we don't bother checking to see if there's a better way. Case in point: Yesterday's post about making Windows a single-click operating system. I've been a double-clicker for as long as I can remember, but after just one day I'm already preferring the single-click lifestyle.

Today, let's talk folders. By default, Windows opens each folder in the same window as the one that preceded it. (Is there a technical term for that? I'm drawing a blank.) But is that the smartest way to go? After all, if you want to copy or move files between folders, it helps to have two separate windows open.

And when you think about it, much of the Web works this way: On many sites, clicking a link opens a new window or tab. Indeed, I often Ctrl-click links specifically so they'll appear in separate tabs.

To bring this capability to Windows, do this:

1. Click Start, type Folder Options, and then hit Enter. (XP users can find Folder Options in the Control Panel.)

2. In the General tab, find the Browse folder section, then enable Open each folder in its own window.

3. Click OK and you're done.

Now, when you click (or double-click, if you're still rolling that way) a folder, it'll automatically open in a new window. Click a folder inside that window and presto, another new window. Try this on for size for a few days and see if you don't prefer it to the old way.

Can't get it to work? Vista has a weird quirk: If the navigation pane is enabled for any given window, folders won't open in new windows. Believe it or not, this makes sense. The navigation pane by design lessens the need for separate windows; you can drag and drop from the main pane to a folder in the navigation pane.

Still kind of annoying, though. The only manual override for this is to right-click a folder and choose Open. That'll give you a new window regardless of your Folder Settings selection.

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