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It is possible to open a specific path using the explorer command line.

What is less clear is how to open one of the libraries listed in the side pane, like 'Favorites', 'Pictures', 'Desktop' or 'Computer'.

I tried simply passing those names, but that always seems to open up 'My Documents'.

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Opening shell folders from the command line

The folders you're referring to are shell folders, and you can't open them by simply passing their name as a parameter. A special syntax is required:

explorer shell:<FolderName>

The entire list is stored in the following registry key in Windows Vista and later:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FolderDescriptions

Each subkey is a Globally unique identifier (GUID). The Name value is what you can use in the shell: syntax, which works regardless of the locale. See the related article below for other possible values (or just check the registry yourself).

Examples

  • Computer shell folder:

    explorer shell:MyComputerFolder
    

    You can also achieve the same result by using the shell folder GUID:

    explorer /e,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
    
  • Favorites shell folder (not to be confused with Internet Explorer favorites):

    explorer shell:Links
    
  • Pictures library:

    explorer shell:PicturesLibrary
    

Further reading

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  • The 'shell' syntax ain't working for me. The CLSID approach does. I'm currently programming a solution which looks up the CLSID. It is also important to take into account localization. Mar 8 '14 at 18:01
  • @StevenJeuris What results are you getting? It does work for me in Windows 7. The shell: syntax works regardless of the locale.
    – and31415
    Mar 8 '14 at 18:03
  • That's weird, now they work. Maybe it didn't temporarily since I'm messing with the registry simultaneously for the implementation I just mentioned. However, explorer shell:Favorites opens up the 'Favorites' folder in my user account folder, not the 'Favorites' star shell folder. Mar 8 '14 at 18:06
  • @StevenJeuris The Favorites folder is a per-user folder. Even if the path looks different in Windows Explorer address bar, you're accessing the very same folder.
    – and31415
    Mar 8 '14 at 18:08
  • Nope, I am talking about the list of 'Favorite' locations in the sidebar. The one with the star. By default it contains Desktop I believe, and if you install e.g. Dropbox it is added there. Mar 8 '14 at 18:10

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