In XP, control-click on the "up folder" icon opens the parent folder in a new Window.

After much searching, I find no way to do this in Vista. It's easy to get to the parent folder, but not in a new window.

  • Yes, it's very annoying - also in W7
    – Whisk
    Aug 4, 2009 at 7:49
  • Agreed! This is something I do at least once a day, I have such a hard time trying to figure out why they didn't think of this. Even a web browser is smart enough to open the parent in a new window or tab.
    – dggoldst
    Aug 4, 2009 at 8:36
  • It would be great if Microsoft would assign someone to look at superuser.com for things tagged windows and annoyances. I mean, if the powerusers on this site can't do something, it means that most users can't do it either.
    – dggoldst
    Aug 5, 2009 at 10:09

5 Answers 5


You don't need to touch the address bar or even use the mouse at all to do this.

  1. CTRL+N to open the current folder in a new window.

  2. ALT+UP ARROW to navigate to the parent folder.


A "hacky" way is to type:

Alt + F(ile), then (Ne)w, then Enter

This opens what you have currently selected in a new window.

Note: this only works if you have a folder selected!

PS: I can't confirm if w directs you to Open in New Window, if I'm wrong, please comment. Sadly I use a local version of Windows :-(

  • 3
    Or use AutoHotKey to macro this ;-)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Aug 4, 2009 at 8:29
  • AutoHotKey is the way!
    – pavsaund
    Aug 4, 2009 at 20:44
  • Can anyone post an AutoHotKey solution?
    – dggoldst
    Aug 17, 2009 at 5:34
  • Assuming lvo's solution works: #x::Send !f sleep 1000 (You'll have to customise this for your machine, too low and it won't fire, too high and it'll be slow (you may not even need it, depending on how snappy your explorer is) send w{return}
    – Phoshi
    Sep 2, 2009 at 11:03
  • Oh dear. There's a line break before sleep, and then again before the second return, and there should also be a Return after that to end the script.
    – Phoshi
    Sep 2, 2009 at 11:04

This is kind of a "round-about-way" but you can go up to the parent and then open the child in a new window (through the right click menu). The end result is you have both the child (your origin) and the parent open in windows, it just swapped windows.

FYI, it is less obvious how to open the parent window without the button. In the address bar you just need to click the name of the parent folder. If the current folder is the first one listed (like if it is on the desktop) then click the arrow to the left of the name and then click the parent (or one of its siblings even).

  • Good point, Jim. I'd also love to know how to open the parent folder when you are dealing with a folder that is the first one listed. Ugh, this OS is annoying! Why didn't they check for this sort of thing?
    – dggoldst
    Sep 2, 2009 at 13:38

To open the parent window, use Alt+ (i.e., Alt+up arrow). Then you can right-click and open it in a new window. Still not 100% what you want...


Here's an alternative method of achieving a new window that is the parent directory of the current window. By hand my method would be Ctrl+N Alt+D .. Enter, but you requested a AutoHotKey script, thus the kludge below.

On Alt+Q the focus moves to the address bar then to the beginning to prefix with explorer.exe " then shifts to the end to suffix with \.." /n. It works even if it is ugly as I am having difficulty passing explorer.exe " and "\.. /n as whole strings. but will execute as one action without delay.

!q::Send, {ALTDOWN}d{ALTUP}{HOME}{e}{x}{p}{l}{o}{r}{e}{r}{.}{e}{x}{e}{SPACE}{"}{ALTDOWN}d{ALTUP}{END}{\}{.}{.}{"}{SPACE}{/}{n}{ENTER}

Other options would be an alternative file manager.

  • You don't need to enclose normal characters in {}s, only special ones.
    – Phoshi
    Sep 2, 2009 at 14:40
  • Wouldn’t {ALTDOWN}d{ALTUP}{END}{\}{.}{.}{ENTER} be enough? Jul 15, 2014 at 18:32

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