On Windows 7, when I use Windows Explorer (the "hard disk browser", not the website browser), I am constantly annoyed by a particular detail. I navigate to a directory in the left pane's tree view. When I select it, the right pane shows its contents. If I then double click on a subdirectory in the right pane, the tree view in the left pane stays where it is.

I would like it to change to the directory I just double cliked on in the right pane, like in Windows XP.

I understand perfectly that this is not a bug and that I should be also using the breadcrumb thing at the top, but I'd like to make Windows 7 behave like Windows XP because, well, at work I have Windows XP and will apparently have it until Hell freezes over (or in the case hell is cold, until it boils), and I already have to do way too much doublethink. My usage of Windows Explorer is based on thoughtless compulsion. My brain usually doesn't enter into it because of years of always training on the same interface.

Is there a way to configure Windows Explorer so that it behaves like in Windows XP?

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This functionality is still there but turned off by default. You can easily turn it on again:

  • Open the "Folder Options" from the control panel
  • Select the "General" tab
  • Check "Automatically expand to current folder" underneath "Navigation pane"
  • Click "OK" and you are done
  • I don't know how I missed it. Thanks! – Kaze no Koe Dec 16 '09 at 22:33

You can try the instructions in Display and Show Classic Navigation Tree Pane in Windows 7 Explorer (for Users Folder, Control Panel, Recycle Bin and CD/DVD/BD Drives).

Alternatively, you can download xplorer2:

xplorer² is a file and information manager that adheres to the philosophy "efficiency through simplicity". Without reinventing the wheel, it integrates the best features of Windows' shell architecture in a small, resource efficient package that's instantly familiar to work with. But look a little closer and you'll discover a whole new world under the surface that offers power, precision and flexibility, and will boost your everyday productivity no end!

How to Reveal and Show or Display Classic Navigation Pane in Windows Explorer of Windows 7

  • Thanks for the info! Not going to try xplorer2, sorry, the whole point was that I didn't want to change :) I'd vote you up if I had the rep. – Kaze no Koe Dec 16 '09 at 22:36

Your Answer


By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.