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How to Change Win + E Shortcut Target in Windows 10/11

The WinKey + E keystroke, as well as the File Explorer shortcut on the taskbar, open Quick access view by default. You can change the default folder to This PC using Folder Options General tab, or make it open to the Downloads folder using a registry method.

But, how to make Windows 10’s File Explorer default to a custom folder or the Libraries section?

The user interface provides no option to set a custom destination for WinKey + E keystroke or the File Explorer pinned taskbar item. As you may have noticed, the File Explorer Pinned taskbar shortcut target can’t be modified via Properties, as it’s a special shortcut with the Target field grayed out or read-only.

However, you change the WinKey + E or the File Explorer shortcut target using a registry edit without breaking any other setting.

Change Win + E and File Explorer Shortcut Target

To set a default start folder for File Explorer, follow these steps:

  1. Copy the following code to Notepad, and save the file as launch.vbs in a safe and protected location.
    WScript.CreateObject("Wscript.Shell").Run "C:\MyFolder"

    The above code launches File Explorer to the specified folder. Change the target folder path accordingly as per your requirement.

    Make File Explorer default to Libraries

    To make File Explorer open to the Libraries section (instead of a folder) by default, modify the target in the script file, as follows:

    WScript.CreateObject("Wscript.Shell").Run "%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries"

    Make File Explorer default to the Desktop folder

    To start Explorer on the Desktop folder, use this code:

    WScript.CreateObject("Wscript.Shell").Run "shell:desktop"
  2. Open Regedit.exe and create the following registry branch.

    Note that the key {52205fd8-5dfb-447d-801a-d0b52f2e83e1} doesn’t exist by default and you’ll need to create the key & its subkeys manually. Alternatively, you can use the REG file method mentioned in the next paragraph to create the key/values automatically.

  3. Set the (default) value data as:
    wscript.exe d:\launch.vbs

    (Assuming launch.vbs is saved in d:\ drive.)

    Quick Tip: You can even type an application path if you want to invoke the application using WinKey + E.

  4. Create a string (REG_SZ) value named DelegateExecute setting its value data empty.
  5. Exit the Registry Editor.

Automate the above steps using a REG file

Here is the .reg file for the above settings. See how to create and use .reg files in Windows.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

@="wscript.exe d:\\launch.vbs"

The above registry tweak changes the default target path for WinKey + E as well as the special File Explorer shortcut in Windows 10.

Why is a Script necessary?

You may be wondering why we need to use a script to start File Explorer to open a specific folder. Why not create a new desktop shortcut with explorer.exe <folderpath> as the target?

Running the explorer.exe <folderpath> via a shortcut or command-line would create a separate explorer.exe process each time. And the additional instances of Explorer.exe remain open even after closing the folder. This also creates multiple and independent File Explorer icons on the Taskbar.

The script method prevents the above issues.

Option 2: Using AutoHotkey

You can use the excellent automatic tool AutoHotkey to intercept the Winkey + E hotkey and launch the desired folder or program.

  1. Download and install AutoHotkey.
  2. Using Notepad, create a .ahk file with the following contents:
    #e::run "shell:desktop"
  3. Name the accordingly , e.g., change_win_e_target.ahk
  4. Double-click the .ahk file to run it.

Now, pressing Winkey + E will launch the Desktop folder. Replace the target folder in the script file as desired.

Note that the AutoHotkey method is extremely quick compared to the VBScript method. But it doesn’t change the File Explorer taskbar shortcut target, whereas the VBScript (& registry) method works with File Explorer taskbar shortcut as well as Winkey + E.

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