Windows Tip Sheet

Explore Your World

What? Windows Explorer as a GUI for admin tasks. Uh, kinda.

As much as I prefer working in the command line, there are times when it is easier to do something in Windows Explorer. Sometimes, I simply want a few Explorer windows open so I can move some files around. If I’m in a command prompt I still want to get to the graphical interface as fast as possible. To accomplish this, all I need to do is type an expression like this:

C:\ explorer /e /root,C:\Scripts

This will open an instance of Windows Explorer rooted to C:\Scripts. Personally, I prefer this view. But you can also use:

C:\ explorer /n /root,C:\Scripts

Which will open up a “My Computer” type view rooted at C:\Scripts.

If you are in a command prompt and are already in the directory you want to open, which is often my situation, simply type:

C:\ explorer /e /root,%cd%

How easy is that? This is especially handy if you are in some deeply nested subfolder with long directory names. In a snap I can open a Windows Explorer window and be where I need to be.

This technique can also be taken one step further:

C:\ explorer /e,/select,%windir%\notepad.exe

If you tried this, you should have an open Explorer window and Notepad.exe should be highlighted. I’ll make this even easier for you. Copy this batch file to a directory in your path:

@echo off
if %1$==$ (
set spath=%CD%
) else (
set spath=%1
echo opening %spath%
explorer /e,/root,%spath%
set spath=

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The next time you want to open an Explorer window from a command prompt simply type:

C:\ exp %windir%

to open your Windows directory. If you run EXP without specifying any parameters, then an Explorer window will open, rooted to the current directory. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

About the Author

Jeffery Hicks is an IT veteran with over 25 years of experience, much of it spent as an IT infrastructure consultant specializing in Microsoft server technologies with an emphasis in automation and efficiency. He is a multi-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP Award in Windows PowerShell. He works today as an independent author, trainer and consultant. Jeff has written for numerous online sites and print publications, is a contributing editor at, and a frequent speaker at technology conferences and user groups.

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