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How do I change the default file manager used in Windows 7?

I just want FreeCommander to be the default, but a general solution is also good.

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You need to remember that EXPLORER.EXE does more than just let you move and copy files. It also provides the Start menu, Task Bar, and System Tray. To replace EXPLORER.EXE with another program, edit the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Shell

You'll need to make sure to use the full path to the new shell if it's not in the path. Also, I'd try it on a test machine before trying it live. Microsoft usually makes a point of advising that caution is used when editing the registry. This is a case where caution is strongly advised.

The link provided by r0ca contains information for replacing EXPLORER.EXE for just folder operations.

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How can I change the way Windows 7 treats a folder? Can I make it that each time a folder is opened it will use FreeCommander instead of Windows Explorer? That will be enough satisfying for me. – Leif Ericson Aug 18 '10 at 18:50
Good information BillP3rd! I did not think my link was not clear enough. Sorry about that! – r0ca Aug 18 '10 at 18:57
To change the way Windows treats folders without replacing the entire shell, follow the link that r0ca provided in his answer. The second message in the thread gives the registry keys to make (and undo if needed) the change. – BillP3rd Aug 18 '10 at 19:05
It doesn't really work well because when I choose to open "My Documents" from Start Menu it just opens FreeCommander in its default destination and not in My Documents. – Leif Ericson Aug 18 '10 at 19:08
It appears that others are having similar issues with special folders (such as Documents, Control Panel, etc.) There's a little information at, but I'd keep an eye on the FC Forums for a resolution. I have no doubt that there will be one. – BillP3rd Aug 18 '10 at 19:18

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