In many Windows programs when I open a file, the GUI dialogue that starts with "Look in:" and provides a list of directories and files to open has a thin panel on the left-hand side with the following 5 icons:

  • Recent Places
  • Desktop
  • Libraries
  • Computer
  • Network

open file dialog

Is it possible to add my own icons to this? I wish to add three for various folders related to the work that I do, and I haven't been able to find a way to customize this.


See if you can tweak them with these instructions. This will only affect dialogs with the places bar on the side like the one you're displaying here. http://windowsxp.mvps.org/PlacesBar.htm

For other dialogs with the folder list on the side, Mehper's answer should work, but Opera isn't using that.

  • That's a great link to some excellent information, thanks! The Windows Registry key they're working with there doesn't exist in Windows 7, but then again those are instructions for Windows XP. – Randolf Richardson Mar 6 '11 at 15:48
  • Hm, I figured the registry key would exist though TweakUI wouldn't work. Were you able to use group policy to do it? Anyway thanks for the attempt at the upvote, you surely have reputation for it but maybe it's some other odd restriction. – Mark Sowul Mar 6 '11 at 16:04
  • (I upvoted this answer, finally, now that upvotes are working; there was a technical problem with my login to this site at the time the upvote feature wasn't working for me. Thanks to the many moderators who assisted me with this in Meta.) – Randolf Richardson Aug 9 '11 at 17:54
  • 1
    Ha, wow, glad you finally got it straightened out – Mark Sowul Aug 10 '11 at 17:04
  • 2
    Upvoting stuff is fun! – Randolf Richardson Aug 10 '11 at 17:06

For Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise, I personally found these instructions easier: http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/85487-common-file-dialog-box-customize-places-bar.html, using the Group Policy Editor.

In short:

  1. Open the Local Group Policy Editor (shows as "Edit Group Policy" when searching from the search bar)

  2. Starting from User Configuration (and not Computer Configuration), drill down to: Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Explorer -> Common Open File Dialog

  3. Double-click the "Items displayed in Places Bar" item and edit as needed. (see the screenshot for an example)

    enter image description here

The article also has a nice list of the strings to enter to access the common shell folders, for example:

  • MyComputerFolder
  • MyDocuments
  • MyFavorites
  • MyMusic
  • MyPictures
  • MyNetworkPlaces
  • MyFavorites
  • CommonDocuments
  • CommonMusic
  • CommonPictures
  • Desktop
  • Printers
  • ProgramFiles
  • Recent
  • shell:desktop
  • shell:documentsLibrary
  • shell:MusicLibrary
  • shell:PicturesLibrary
  • shell:VideosLibrary
  • shell:MyComputerFolder
  • Wow. That link is amazing. Very good docs. – kevinarpe Oct 18 '14 at 10:35

1) From within Windows Explorer, select Organize > Folder and Search Options. (Alternately, open the Control Panel and select Folder Options.)

2) On the General tab, in the Navigation Pane section, check the Show All Folders option, and click OK.

enter image description here

3) Now it's actually quite easy to add items to the Favorites section in the Navigation Pane. From within Windows Explorer, navigate to and open the folder you want to display in the Favorites list.

4) Right-click the Favorites item in the Navigation Pane and select Add Current Location to Favorites. (To delete an item from the Favorites list, right-click it and select Remove.)

enter image description here

That's all.

  • I'm not asking about Favourites, but about a different part of the File->Open GUI that appears in most Windows programs. – Randolf Richardson Mar 6 '11 at 15:51
  • @Randolf Richardson: My solution works for File >Open GUI. I've just tested it on Firefox' Open GUI. It should also work for other Windows programs as well. – Mehper C. Palavuzlar Mar 6 '11 at 17:49
  • That works for some programs, but there are others that seem to be using the same GUI function that Opera uses. Five examples are Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended, Microsoft Office PowerPoint Viewer 2007, Adobe Reader 9, NetBeans IDE 7, and SpyBot Search & Destroy. I think there must be two different File->Open dialogues, and between the two of us we're discussing both of them. Your solution works for the one that I'm not asking about. – Randolf Richardson Mar 9 '11 at 2:18

This method requires you to edit the registry. Please use caution when doing this because you can mess up your computer. I found this information from this website. The website list two methods (and screenshots), I list the one I used below:

  1. Open the Start Menu, then type regedit in the search box and press enter.

  2. If prompted by UAC, click on Yes.

  3. In regedit, navigate to the location below. (see screenshot below)


  4. To Customize Items to be Displayed in the Places Bar

    A) In the left pane, right click on Policies and click on New and Key. (see screenshot below

    B) Type comdlg32, and press enter. Right click on comdlg32 and click on New and Key. (see screenshot below) NOTE: If you already have the comdlg32 key, then you can skip on to step 4C below.

    C) Type Placesbar and press enter. (see screenshot below step 4D)

    D) In the right pane of Placesbar, right click on a empty space and click on New and String Value. (see screenshot below)

    E) You can specify up to 5 places, so type Place0, Place1, Place2, Place3, or Place4 for each one you would like to customize, and press Enter. (see screenshot below)

    F) Repeat steps 4D and 4E to add each Place# string value for how many custom places you wanted to be displayed as items in the Places Bar.

    G) In the right pane, right click on the Place# and click on Modify. Type in the item location that you want to have displayed in the Places Bar, and click on OK. Repeat for each Place# that you have added in step 4E above. (see screenshot below) NOTE: See the NOTE box at the top of the tutorial for more on valid items you may display in the Places Bar.

    H) Go to step 6.

  5. To Restore Default Items Displayed in the Places Bar

    A) In the left pane, right click on Placesbar and click on Delete. (see screenshot below)

    B) Click on Yes to approve deletion. (see screenshot below)

  6. Close regedit.

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