I would like to re-map existing shortcuts, right-clicks, etc so Q-Dir is opened instead of default Windows Explorer.

short of renaming ``explorer.exe in Windows folder - are there any settings I need to look at? maybe in Registry somewhere?

  • 2
    if the solution provided worked, please make sure to mark the answer as accepted. Thanks!
    – nhinkle
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 0:38

4 Answers 4


Run regedit.exe, go to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon] find "shell" string and change value from explorer.exe on Q-dir with full path, then reboot.

  • While this works, it also limits normal shell functionality for me. Therefore, I prefer replacing just the explorer shortcut instead on windows 10 and above
    – kf06925
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 18:13

There is a program called InstantSheller that can start programs instead of the Windows shell.

enter image description here

It does essentially what Ratin's answer does in the registry, with a few more UI options.

I use it to boot my HTPC's software, hiding the Windows boot logo, login screen and explorer. You can revert the changes by opening the application again and clicking undo.

  • The link to the vendor is dead. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 17:40
  • 1
    @IInspectable updated!
    – user201262
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 19:58

While it's not a full explorer replacement, I prefer just replacing the launch target of the Win + E shortcut following the approach for Windows 10 / 11 described here. This ensures the normal shell functionality (e.g. Start Menu, task bar, system tray etc. is left untouched)

For my portable version of Q-Dir a registry file looks like this

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Replace C:\\Users\\[username]\\Downloads\\Q-DirPortable\\App\\Q-Dir\\Q-Dir_x64.exe with your Q-Dir installation path above (and use \\ to escape \ correctly as shown). Then import the file into the registry (e.g. via double-clicking it in Explorer + confirming the registry import).

After that Q-Dir will launch when Win + E is being pressed instead of Explorer


There is a way! I discovered it recently, steps:

  1. Open regedit

  2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Folder\shell\open\command

Inside that key delete DelegateExecute and rename the Default to the proper location of the file manager(here is Dolphin from KDE in my case), like:

"C:\PATH\dolphin-22.12.2-1828\bin\dolphin.exe" %1
  • The %1 is important (for the arguments)

This will:

  • Evertytime you open a folder it will open with Dolphin at that location

PS: for Dolphin there are more tweaks necessary since you will need to create *.desktop for shortcuts, and change the default location to "default" for the above to work.

Also add @kf06925 answer so everything will be nice and smooth!

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