Windows has the ability to create shortcuts. When you do, they appear as shortcuts in the files section of a folder. To create one, you right click, new, shortcut, or copy and paste as shortcut amonst other options.

However, windows also has something called a FileFolder, which is a shortcut that is treated like a folder, rather than a file. So with sorting, it appears in the folders location, it appears in the folderviewpane and from the addressbar.

Now, there's also the symbolic links, which is similar to FileFolders, but one thing a symbolic link cannot do, is be placed on a network share and point to a folder on your local computer that is not shared, and if you open that link from a different computer, it opens on their computer instead, like a normal shortcut would do.

A way to create a FileFolder is to use the Add a network location wizard and link to it.

So far I figured out that the location of this FileFolder is:

%AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts

Opening this folder in command prompt allows me to debug how this folder is made.

It is a regular folder, not a file. Performing an attrib shows me this:

C:\....\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts>attrib /d /s
   SH        C:\....\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts\test\desktop.ini
A            C:\....\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts\test\target.lnk
     R       C:\....\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts\test

So a Folder without archive or system attribute set, but with read only, which contains a normal target.lnk (the shortcut to where it points) and a desktop.ini with system and hidden attribute set but not archive, to glue it all together.

The content of desktop.ini shows me:


I can rename the desktop.ini to desktop.ini~ and then navigate the folder with explorer. Deleting the target.lnk file and right-click new->shortcut and point it to something, then name it target and renaming desktop.ini~ back to desktop.ini succesfully alters the target, and I can succesfully copy/move the new FileFolder.

The question

Now the thing is, I can succesfully modify a filefolder that works, but I can't seem to figure out how to manually create one from scratch. Eg: Right mouse->New folder, Give attributes, Inside create the appropriate files.

I go to the previous folder and back in, and I just see the desktop.ini and target.lnk instead of getting redirected.

Does anyone know why it doesn't work, or what steps I need to take to make it work?

  • @Ramhound I couldn't get it to work, and I know the startmenu has gone through a big overhaul in these windows versions. But maybe I'm doing something wrong. Anyway, it would still be a workaround. I prefer to find out how to do it myself. I can now just create a FileFolder once, store it somewhere, and copy/paste it then modify when needing it, but for the sake of learning, it should be possible to create one manually, so I'd like to figure out how. – LPChip Aug 16 '16 at 13:07
  • @Ramhound but I get your drift. Edited out the Windows 8 and above part. – LPChip Aug 16 '16 at 13:11
  • I will be honest, I have not heard of FileFolders before, so I will have to do my research. The statement raised my eyebrows though. – Ramhound Aug 16 '16 at 15:42
  • @Ramhound regarding the startmenu way, seemed to be XP sp1 and earlier. – LPChip Aug 16 '16 at 16:02

You don't need to set the attributes of the files in the folder. You just need to make sure that the "FileFolder" is read-only.

Here are the steps to creating a "FileFolder" manually:

  1. Create a folder that you want to turn into your FileFolder.
  2. Create a shortcut to the target folder named target.lnk inside your FileFolder
  3. Copy the desktop.ini file from a previously created FileFolder to your new FileFolder, or create a new text file called "desktop.ini" inside your FileFolder with these contents

  4. Set the "Read Only" attribute for the file folder using attrib from the command line

    attrib +r "FileFolder"
  5. (Optional) Set the attributes of both files to "Hidden" and "System"

    attrib +h +s "desktop.ini"
    attrib +h +s "target.lnk"

That should create a "FileFolder" that immediately redirects you to another folder when opened in Windows Explorer.

  • Have you tested this yourself? This did not work in my case, as stated so in my question. – LPChip Aug 16 '16 at 21:48
  • In fact, if I create a new folder, and I copy the files over (desktop.ini and target.lnk) it still doesn't work. So there has to be something special creating the folder itself – LPChip Aug 16 '16 at 21:56
  • @LPChip I tested this on one of my Windows 10 installs, but I added your step to my answer because it didn't work with one of my other PCs. – PC Luddite Aug 16 '16 at 23:51
  • I'm sorry, but your answer now exactly reflects my answer, and at the time of writing your answer when I didn't know the answer, it was not working. It still contains a possible error which I fixed in my answer. I therefor cannot accept your answer as it technically did not help me. Your answer stated what was already written in my question. – LPChip Aug 17 '16 at 9:12

I found out why things aren't working. All steps I did were correct except for one: Giving my folder a +r attribute.

Using explorer to set the read-only attribute is not working on folders it seems.

But when using attrib Filefolder +r suddenly explorer started to understand, and things work.

So the easiest way now is to first create the folder and attrib it, then create the appropriate files inside.


C:\>md FileFolder

C:\>attrib FileFolder +r

C:\>cd FileFolder

C:\FileFolder>start .

Now from the explorer window, create a desktop.ini with the following content:


Make sure the desktop.ini has an enter after the Flags=2, otherwise its still not working.

And right-click New > Shortcut, point it to where it has to go, and name it target

Now, Go up a directory, and you'll notice the icon has a shortcut arrow on it, yet it is a folder. Clicking on it will properly redirect.

Note: It may take up to a minute for the shortcut to start working.

EDIT: Additionally, providing your shortcut with a different icon will allow that icon to be shown in your shortcutfolder too.

  • 1
    Hmm. "using attrib Filefolder +r suddenly explorer started to understand" in the text but attrib FileFolder +h in the code? which is correct? Hidden or Read-Only? – DavidPostill Aug 17 '16 at 7:43
  • @DavidPostill oh, good spot. its +r of course. – LPChip Aug 17 '16 at 9:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.