“Browse For Folder” Dialog Only Shows Desktop in Windows 11

After installing the Windows 11 22H2 update, you may notice that the “Browse for Folder” dialog invoked from various apps may show only the folders on the desktop. In other words, the desktop is shown as the rooted view, and no option exists to choose any other folder outside the desktop.

browse for folder shows only desktop

Cause

This is caused by a bug in 22H2 (windows.fileexplorer.common.dll) or the OneDrive sync client. As of the Windows 11 22H2 build 10.0.22621.900, this bug hasn’t been resolved.

Workaround

Disable OneDrive sync for the desktop folder

The workaround is to stop syncing your Desktop folder with OneDrive. You can have syncing enabled for the other shell folders, though.

Note: Before proceeding, copy the files in those special folders to another folder or external drive. Please don’t copy them anywhere under Desktop/Documents/Pictures. This is because disabling OneDrive backup for a folder erases the local copies of the files. Copying them to a different location beforehand will ensure that you don’t need to download them again from the OneDrive cloud.

  1. Right-click the OneDrive icon in the Notification area and click Settings.
  2. Select the Backup tab, and click Manage Backup
  3. In the Manage folder backup dialog, click on the “Stop backup” link for “Desktop.”
  4. Click Stop backup in the confirmation dialog that appears.

browse for folder shows only desktop



The Browse For Folder dialog should now populate the items correctly!


Option 2: Apply a registry fix

Update (Dec 2022): This option causes an annoying side-effect where the users will be unable to rename folders on the desktop after applying this fix. This has been reported by user “mowgus” from the Microsoft forums.

The trick is to replace the existing “ParentFolder” value data {5E6C858F-0E22-4760-9AFE-EA3317B67173} with %USERPROFILE% or {59031a47-3f72-44a7-89c5-5595fe6b30ee}.

  1. Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe)
  2. Go to the following branch:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FolderDescriptions\{A52BBA46-E9E1-435f-B3D9-28DAA648C0F6}
  3. Double-click ParentFolder and set its data to:
    %USERPROFILE%
  4. Exit the Registry Editor.


I hope MS fixes this bug in the next update.


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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

3 thoughts on ““Browse For Folder” Dialog Only Shows Desktop in Windows 11”

  1. Ramesh Srinivasan

    Thank you so much!
    Your superb article solved my problem 🙂

    … and many thanks for your site (that I’ve found today).
    It will be a major one between my reference sites

    My Best Regards

    Reply
    • Hello, again, Ramesh 🙂

      It’s just to complement my last post

      Before I “stopped syncing” my desktop with One Drive, I tested the “fix the registry” as described, but it didn’t fix the problem. Just stopping the sync did the trick.
      Since I only use shortcut links (for apps, folders and files) on the desktop, the problem of not syncing is not too much of a problem.

      To get my links, again, in my desktop, without the problem of syncing, I just moved all my links to the “Public desktop” and it works fine (naturally the computer only has my account!).

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