(This is a followup question from my previous question.)

In windows XP I used to be able to quickly navigate to frequently used folders by making use of the 'Favorites' menu item and the hotkey behaviour. In certain conditions it could be set up so that getting to a particular folder was as easy as alt-a x (and without a file explorer window open it was as fast as win-e alt-a x).

I am struggling to get anywhere near this speed in Windows 7 and would like to solicit advice from others regarding fast folder navigation to see if I am missing any methods.

My current way to navigate quickly is basically

  1. move hand to mouse
  2. move cursor to navigation pane/pain.
  3. scroll all the way to the top (because normally I the panel is focused on whatever deep directory structure I am already in).
  4. sift through my 50+ favorites to get the one I want, or click a link to a folder that contains further links in some sort of 'pseudo-tree' functionality.
  5. select it.

This is slower than my previous method by upwards of an order of magnitude.

There are a couple of things I've contemplated:

  1. add expandable folders, not just direct links, to the favorites menu.
  2. add expandable folders, not just direct links, to the start menu.
  3. add links of my favorite folders to a submenu of the start menu so that they come up when I search them. They do but this still rather cumbersome
  4. started using 7stacks - url here (I cannot link the url directly due to lack of reputation but http://www.alastria.com/index.php?p=software-7s). This is about the closest I've gotten to some sort of compact, customizeable, easy to access, tree based navigation structure.

How do you power users quickly navigate to your favorite folders? Are there keyboard shortcuts I am missing? Can someone recommend other apps or addon or extensions that can achieve this sort of functionality?

The Current solution (thanks to the answers below) I am going to use is a combination of Autohotkey and 7stacks - autohotkey to launch 7stacks, 7stacks with the 'menu' stack type for fast, key-enabled navigation to folders organised in a tree structure. This solves about 90% of the issue, the only issues are (note that these are really minor, I am really splitting hairs more than anything here)

  1. Can't use this for existing folder navigation (ie already have a explorer window open, want to go to another directory)
  2. A bit more cumbersome to add/remove entries to compared to xp favorites.
  3. A little slower than xp favorites.

Whatever. I'm happy. Thanks guys.

I think the answer is a split to John T and Kelbizzle - I've elected to give the answer to John T and +1 to Kelbizzle as I had already mentioned 7stacks.

  • Interesting question. Yet another reason why I feel no need to upgrade to Windows 7 yet. I already use Autohotkey, highly recommended. – Ash Jan 26 '10 at 12:22
  • 1
    It is a MAJOR negative and I'm pretty frustrated that microsoft continued with this after implementing it in Vista (I think this Vista/7 style of favorites is fundamentally flawed in terms of UI design). But to be fair, W7 so far has been more positives than negatives. – fostandy Jan 27 '10 at 23:12

12 Answers 12


I use Autohotkey for a magnitude of things, navigation to my frequently visited folders being one of them.

The language can get quite complicated, but when doing basic things like this, it's fairly straightforward on how to add new hotkeys.

Example, open your Windows directory:

^!w::Run C:\WINDOWS

this would allow me to open explorer to C:\Windows by pressing Ctrl + Alt + w. You can make a multitude of these, just make a duplicate line in your AHK script and modify the hotkey sequence and directory:

^!w::Run C:\WINDOWS
^!s::Run C:\WINDOWS\System32
^0::Run C:\

A great overview of how to make hotkeys is here in the Hotkey Documentation. Feel free to email me for any extended discussion on AHK, if you don't feel like posting a bunch of questions!

  • I should finally give this a real try instead of only linking others to it :P – Ivo Flipse Jan 26 '10 at 6:53
  • You won't regret it. I guarantee it. I'd post my script file somewhere if it didn't contain so many personal shortcuts. – John T Jan 26 '10 at 6:55
  • @JohnT Post personal shortcuts. We will advise if personal or not. :) – Jon Jul 6 '16 at 21:12

I have used the Windows key + R to 'Run' the folder I want. The advantage is it is then in the history so the last folder I ran is at the top of the list of commands, and folders I ran longer ago are suggested as I begin typing the path to the folder I want. Not as complete a suggestion as John T's or Molly's, but simple and good for maybe a dozen favorite folders.

  • +1 for the same method I use, even though I know Beaner uses Total Commander at work! – Russ Warren Jan 27 '10 at 3:19

An alternative to Direct Folders is Folder Guide which is very good - it's simple to use and I haven't had any trouble with it. It uses about 7MB on my system. Simply right-click in Explorer or a fileselector and up it pops.

Folder Guide context menu

I also find Launchy useful too (which I've got indexing a directory of shortcuts to various things including other directories).


I can't live without Direct Folders. http://www.codesector.com/directfolders.php

He also makes a great one click Copy/Move tool.


Although using multiple packages if a solution that works, one piece of free software may have all you want in an integrated package - FileBox eXtender.

I found undocumented that it will jump to one of its user-built menu items by the first letter of its name, which can changed to be unique.

It can be called with a hotkey and works in Windows Explorer and in any program that uses -standard- Windows Open and Save dialog boxes.


One thing that I find reduced my needs for such shortcuts repository is that the search has much improved since XP. I have a bunch of frequently accessed folders added to the library or simply indexed, and I often just type a word or two to get something I'm looking for or its location. Even shortcut systems usually point to a location where you'll still need to find your file.

Although it does not eliminate the need for other nagivation methods, it did reduce the list substantially for me.

That said, the search is still infuriating at times. There's no easy way to duplicate a search in a new window, in some cases navigating them is a pain (e.g. SearchResults\subfolder instead of D:\folder\Subfolder), and you still need your mouse a lot.


Im using Total Commander. I thoroughly enjoy split windows and multiple tabs (CTRL + Tab) with a dozen of open folders. The Directory Hotlist (CTRL + C) serves me well too.

enter image description here

Windows Explorer, no matter what 'enhancements' i have tried, just doesn't cut it for me.


7stacks is perfect for the task. That's what I use it for.


This works for me, no additional software required:

  • Add shortcuts for favorite tools to the desktop
  • Name them so each starts with a number, like 1_WorkFolderA, 2_WorkFolderB, etc
  • Activate by hitting the Windows key -> then D -> then a number -> then Enter. So WIN>D>1>ENTER activates your 1st shortcut, or WIN>D>2>ENTER actives the 2nd, etc
  • This hides all other windows, you may or may not like that

Note: Works even if you configure Windows to hide desktop contents (so you have to use File Explorer to see and edit desktop contents). That's how I prefer - also a flat grey desktop image. The desktop is merely a bare grey rectangle. It's zen for me. Aummmm :] After hitting WIN+D, all windows disappear to this grey screen, then hitting 1+ENTER works as expected. You can assign different shortcuts to different folders for navigation with File Explorer, obviously.

Note also: Remember, for the Taskbar, WIN+1 activates the 1st item, WIN+2 the 2nd item, etc ... If File Explorer is WIN+1, tapping this repeatedly will cycle through open windows. This never launches a new window if another is already open, it just cycles back.

  • Thanks. Was confused at first but I get it now. This is a cool idea, but losing all other windows on your desktop is a bit of a bummer.. – fostandy May 15 '19 at 14:08

I treat my files like my inbox. Everything that hits my inbox is sorted based on subject, sender, priority and also how many times I've replied to the thread. I think people should adopt a similar habit with their files.

Generally, people tend to put things in the same spot, making automation of those task very very easy. Get a program like Peacock sorter or Universal file sorter. They monitor a single folder and based on the extension, will rename it however you want and move it where ever you want. Music goes to music. Project files go to a project folder, etc etc. I see people setup filters all the time in Gmail. Why not on the desktop?

  • That is a nice suggestion but seems to be somewhat tangential to the question. My files are indeed sorted into a myriad of different folders - what I'm asking is how I can rapidly navigate to said folders – fostandy Aug 12 '16 at 0:03

Out-of-the box solutions with no setup required (these only work for certain locations, but those locations are commonly desired ones):

  • Windows+R and type the name of a top-level folder in your profile, e.g. typing Documents will take you to C:\Users\You\Documents. Autocomplete will help you the next time you want to go there.

  • The Windows key followed by the name of a Library or indexed folder. Libraries work especially well because they get priority in search results and still work with search in Windows 8. Possible results appear as the folder name is typed.


Another good software for quickly locating/navigating to certain directories is QuickJump by Techhit. It sets up a command hotkey (default CTRL-SHIFT-J) that opens a window with a search box. As you type, it results any directory that matches the search. Does not allow to navigate a current window to a destination, but it will work from the FILE SAVE AS prompt.

See http://www.techhit.com/QuickJump/

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