The Windows 10 File Explorer opens to Quick access by default. Quick access is a section where you can place shortcuts to your favorite folders. It also displays recently viewed files and frequently used folders. If you’re not a fan of the Quick access feature and want File Explorer to default to “This PC”, Downloads or any other custom folder by default, this post tells you how to do it.
Set the default File Explorer start folder:
- Start File Explorer, and click the File menu.
- Click Folder and search options
- In the Folder Options dialog that opens, select This PC from the drop-down box, and click OK.
There is also another choice (“Downloads”) you can make which Microsoft doesn’t tell you. But it requires editing the registry.
Here is how to set File Explorer to open “Downloads” folder every time you press WinKey + E or click the File Explorer Taskbar shortcut.
The Folder Options setting “Open File Explorer to:” is saved in the following registry key:
Value name: LaunchTo
Data: 1, 2 or 3
- 1 – File Explorer opens to “This PC”
- 2 – File Explorer opens to Quick access
- 3 – This is the undocumented stuff. If the value data is set to 3 (not configurable via Folder Options dialog), File Explorer defaults to the Downloads folder.
Launch the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and go to the above key:
Set the LaunchTo value data to
3 and exit the Registry Editor.
Note that after setting the value data to
3, drop-down box in the Folder Options dialog would appear like this.
One of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update insider preview builds included “Downloads” in the drop-down list, and Microsoft removed the option in the subsequent releases. However, the registry edit still works in v1903.
To make File Explorer start to a custom folder location other than the three options, use the registry edit and script method described in the article How to Change WinKey + E and File Explorer Shortcut Target in Windows 10
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Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in Windows — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP (2003-2012) who contributes to various Windows support forums.