Does Windows Explorer in Windows 7 have a keyboard shortcut that hides or shows the navigation pane?

It's pretty annoying each time to click Organize|Layout|Navigation pane...


15 Answers 15


I don't believe there is a keyboard shortcut (I just tried all the ctrl/alt + alphabet keys, and none of them opened the navigation pane)


In Windows 8.1 (maybe Windows 8 & 7 too, one needs to verify this), you can add the Navigation Pane option to the Quick Access Toolbar. You can then use the Alt+{NumberKey} shortcut followed by the Enter key to show/hide the Navigation Pane.

For example: in my case, the Navigation Pane icon is the third item in the Quick Access Toolbar, so I would press Alt+3 and then Enter to turn the pane on/off.

This has improved my workflow tremendously. Hope it helps you too.

HowTo: Configure

  1. open Windows File Explorer
  2. right-click View tab
  3. right-click Navigation Pane toolbar button
  4. click Add to Quick Access Toolbar menu item

Screen Shots

Screen shot: right-click on *Navigation Pane* button

Figure1: Right-Click Menu

Quick Access with Navigation Pane button

Figure2: Quick Access Toolbar with Navigation Pane

Related Notes

With respect to the Quick Access Toolbar, it is important to note that:

  • Shortcuts are assigned left to right. For example, with reference to Figure2:
    • Alt+1 = show properties
    • Alt+2 = create new folder
    • Alt+3 = show/hide Navigation Pane
  • Shortcuts only work with the number keys at the top of a QWERTY keyboard. They do not work with the number pad number keys.
  • 1
    Windows 7 doesn't have a "Quick Access Toolbar".
    – Toro
    Mar 15, 2014 at 0:25
  • 1
    I liked this answer, and I hope this illustration make it easier for people to understand what you are suggesting: screenshot Mar 13, 2015 at 7:41
  • 4
    Works great in windows 10
    – toster-cx
    Apr 20, 2016 at 7:21
  • For those who would like to use this solution in Windows 11, you can get it to work by restoring the Windows Explorer ribbon interface + Quick Access Toolbar in the UI by installing the program StartAllBack. Open the StartAllBack options, select the "Explorer" tab, and enable the setting labeled "Win10 Ribbon UI". Close any open explorer windows and reopen a new explorer window to use the restored ribbon UI featured in @SMing's answer.
    – Cory Gross
    Jun 17, 2023 at 21:05

Here is how I do it:

1) Alt+D (puts the focus in the Address bar, so works wherever it was before)

2) Tab, Tab

3) Space

4) L

5) N

This is optimized for speed of typing; you can save a Tab if you use Ctrl+E or Ctrl+F to put the focus in the search box instead.

If you've just opened the window, three presses of Tab will get you to the Organize button in step 3.


here is a autohotkey script

Win+A toggles the navi pane


#SingleInstance, Force

#IfWinActive ahk_class CabinetWClass
Send !d{tab}{tab}{enter}ln
  • 1
    Nice! Using Send ^e{tab}{enter}ln (CTRL+E, TAB ENTER instead of ALT+D TAB TAB ENTER) is slightly faster I've also bound it to ALT+N so I can use it with ALT+P !n:: for toggling the preview pane without removing my finger from ALT.
    – Sam Hasler
    Mar 11, 2014 at 10:59

Here is how I do it:

1) Shift + Tab

2) Shift + Tab


4) L

5) N

Hope this helps!

  • 1
    1) and 2) should probably be "shift+tab until you see a bounding box around 'organize'". tab & Shift+tab will cycle through all fields/controls/buttons on any/most windows dialogs...
    – horatio
    Apr 19, 2011 at 19:18
  • This only works if the keyboard focus happens to be in the Explorer window. stevek_mcc’s answer is better because it starts from an absolute location instead of a relative one.
    – Synetech
    May 19, 2017 at 4:38

I can toggle the preview pane in Windows 10 by typing (with the Explorer window focussed): Alt V N Enter

Note that Alt is a separate keypress to go into the mode where you navigate the ribbon by keyboard.


you may want to record an action and script it. you and use autohotkey to execute that script with a keyboard shortcut. http://www.autohotkey.com/

  • I have used AutoHotKey before. Could you comment on how to record actions runnable by AutoHotKey? Apr 13, 2011 at 13:25

Here is a macro in PhraseExpress (freely available here):

{#shift {#tab}}{#sleep 500}{#shift {#tab}}{#sleep 500}{#down}{#sleep 500}l{#sleep 500}n

Note: sleep 500 makes it more stable.

  • where does the focus need to be when you run it? The 1st time it ran it was ok but not it keeps trying to do a search.
    – Alex
    Feb 24, 2016 at 10:34
  • Figured it out looking at the other answers. Alt+D puts the focus in the correct location. My final short cut: {#ALT -chars D}{#TAB}{#sleep 100}{#TAB}{#sleep 100}{#DOWN}{#sleep 100}{#SHIFT -chars l}{#sleep 100}{#SHIFT -chars n} Thanks!
    – Alex
    Feb 24, 2016 at 10:56

Not a direct answer, but you can hide the navigation pane in one folder, and apply this setting for all folders. You will now have to manually enable the navigation pane each time you want to use it.

Here's how:

  1. Open Folder Options via the Tools menu (ALT-T, O)
  2. Select "View" tab
  3. Press "Apply to Folders"
  • It's not about how to hide the pane permanently, rather I'd like to have an option to hide and show it using a key shortcut.
    – Toro
    Sep 28, 2009 at 7:28

Very good thread. I wanted a folder with just icons that allows me to launch programs or folder locations of interest. I think I'm there. Here are keys:

  1. Under folder options, view tab, click "Restore previous folder windows at logon"

    • so once I have folder set up the way I want, I just leave open when I logoff and it gets restored on next logon. Thus, I turn off navigation panel and it comes back with it off.
  2. To launch new folders in separate window (and just new ones), in shortcut target use the following:

    %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /n,/e, "Path to folder you want to start-in"

    So, if I want to open a explorer in the D: drive I use

    %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /n,/e, D:\

Now I set-up all the shortcuts in my key folder this way and they launch in a separate window, yet all other times when I double click on folder location they don't create separate window.


I can't see any keyboard shortcuts (apart from OGR's answer), but there is a plugin which adds a Navigation Pane button to the Windows Explorer bar, which at least makes it quicker to toggle.

NavPane button

Details here: Toggle the Navigation Pane with a Button in Windows Explorer


Yes, it's not very well thought out on Microsoft's behalf.

If I have a folder on my desktop which contains JUST shortcut to programs that do say "audio" work. When I open the folder I just want to see icons, not the navigation pane.

If I make it vanish for that folder, then the next time I open explorer (say to look at my PC folder structure) it's gone from there also.

Windows 7 should remember whether or not the navigation pane was enabled on a "per folder" basis, or AT THE VERY LEAST, provide a quick shortcut key to display or hide it.

Piss poor if you ask me.

The navigation pane takes up a lot of space, and people who like their folders and work areas looking "just right" won't be very please at this omission. In this respect, the old explorer worked a lot better. (Even if it did forget the layout for ALL of your folders from time to time!). This one doesn't even have options to remember your folder layout with respect to the navigation pane. Probably why M$ couldn't be bothered to fix the original problem with it, electing to just ommit it from future versions instead.

  • I don't have Windows 7 yet, but Vista it did not save my folder settings until I disabled UAC. Do you have UAC enabled or disabled?
    – Joshua K
    Oct 4, 2010 at 18:19

You could use ctrl+F which will open the pane and then switch to navigation tab, but creating a macro sounds easiest.


Not the answer to the question about Windows 7 but in Windows 10:

Alt+D, Alt, V, N, Enter


Toggle on/off:

Like the 1st method but we go one step further and add the actual toggle option to the quick-access toolbar and not the actual menu button, so all that is needed is a simple left-click of the mouse button:

-> Select the drop-down-arrow to list the options under "Navigation Pane" -> right-click "Navigation Pane" -> Add to quick-access toolbar


  • 1
    Avoid posting answers to old questions that already have well received answers unless you have something substantial and new to add.
    – Toto
    Jan 6, 2023 at 17:53
  • Avoid posting wrong answers: the question was about Windows 7, which didn't have a quick access tool toolbar.
    – Toro
    Jan 8, 2023 at 11:50

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