So I have a user that has to deal with files that are in folder after folder after folder. Getting to the files is no issue. Accessing them is an issue as the user is constantly getting the error that states the name is too long. Is there a work around for this short of a symbolic link or changing the shell? I know this is a Windows Explorer limitation in Windows 7.
You can create a kind of shortcut to reach the root of your long path tree, which will allow you to drive deeper in your tree.
Non-admin users can use
substcommand to create a virtual drive which points to a folder. This finally creates a shorten path to everything under that folder. Typical usage (not stored between reboots):
subst j: c:\path\to\the\root\of\your\big\tree
NTFS filesystem also supports links which creates a virtual folder somewhere as a direct door to access another folder. They can be use for the same purpose of path length workaround and at least junction link kind does not requires admin privileges. Those virtual folders are persistant against reboot, until you delete them using
delwhich may also delete pointed-to data).
cd "short-path-writable-folder" mklink /J linkname c:\path\to\the\root\of\your\big\tree