Answer Line: Configure Windows Explorer's (or File Explorer's) Navigation pane

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Windows Explorer's Navigation pane provides easy movement between the folders on your hard drive. Bevaau asked the Windows forum about configuring this handy tool.

Microsoft greatly improved Windows Explorer in Windows 7, making it more configurable and easier to navigate. They improved it even more in Windows 8, where they gave it an Office-like tab system and a more descriptive name: File Explorer. (This is one of the few changes in Windows 8 that I like.)

I'm going to concentrate here on one part of Windows/File Explorer: the Navigation pane. It's the left-most part of the Explorer window, listing Favorites and Libraries. These instructions work for Windows 7 and 8. Some of it also applies to Vista.

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When you open Windows Explorer or File Explorer (from here on in, I'll just call them Explorer), you'll note that this pane is divided into five sections: Favorites, Libraries, Homegroup, Computer, and Network. I'll concentrate on the first two, Favorites and Libraries, as they're configurable.


The first section lists your favorite folders, except that, out of the box, they're actually Microsoft's favorite folders. Let's change that:

To add a folder, simply drag it from elsewhere in the Explorer window to the Favorites section. You can drop it on the word Favorites, which will put it at the bottom of the list, or drop it between two folders already on the list. But don't drop it on another folder or you'll move its actual location.

You can drag a folder to the word Favorites (left) or in between two existing folders listed in the Favorites section (right).

You can change the order of the Favorite folders with simple drags and drops.

To remove a folder, right-click the folder in Favorites and select Remove. Don't worry; this doesn't actually delete the folder and its contents. It just removes it from the Favorites list.


Libraries--such as Documents and Photos--point to the default folders for saving your files. They can point to more than one folder. For example, the Documents library by default contains both My Document and Public Documents. You can add and subtract from that.

To add a folder to an existing library, right-click the folder from within the Pane's Computer section, select Include in library, and the appropriate library.

You can also make a folder into a library of its own. Right-click the folder and select Include in library>Create new library.

To remove a folder from the library, right-click the folder in the library, and select Remove location from library.

To remove a library, right-click it and select Delete. If you're using Windows 7, a needlessly scary dialog box will ask if you want to delete the folder. Don't worry; the original folders and the files within them will not be harmed.

Read the original forum discussion.

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