Windows Advisor

Quick Hit -- Vista Shell Commands

Get access to some common Vista folders using the shell commands.

Instead of this week's regular Q&A, I thought I'd just pass along a nifty tip for accessing some of the more common Vista folders. Yes, the shell command in Vista gives you quick access to various folders.

To access a shell command, just click on Start, Run and then type "shell:command." Don't try to use the shell:command at the command prompt (cmd.exe), as it will fail -- shell:command is not recognized by the command interpreter.

Here are some of the more common ones:

shell:my music
shell:my pictures
shell:start menu

Notice that the last one has no space between the words "user" and "profiles" in this command.

So, to open the Downloads folder, click Start | Run and type "shell:downloads." If you want to look at the folder where Internet Explorer saves cookies, instead of going through Windows Explorer and locating the folder, you can quickly access it by typing "shell:cookies."

There's a long list of shell commands that can be used in Vista, though obviously you'll find some more useful than the others. Once you open the folder with the shell command, you may want to create a shortcut for it for future use if you expect to to access it frequently.

Note that there are some shell commands that only work in 64-bit Vista' don't be surprised if all the shell commands don't work for your 32-bit Vista.

About the Author

Zubair Alexander, MCSE, MCT, MCSA and Microsoft MVP is the founder of SeattlePro Enterprises, an IT training and consulting business. His experience covers a wide range of spectrum: trainer, consultant, systems administrator, security architect, network engineer, author, technical editor, college instructor and public speaker. Zubair holds more than 25 technical certifications and Bachelor of Science degrees in Aeronautics & Astronautics Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Information Systems. His Web site,, is dedicated to technical resources for IT professionals. Zubair may be reached at [email protected].

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