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How to Find a Folder's Path Name in Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer lets you traverse folders within folders within folders, buried so deep you may never get out. But it doesn’t give you one simple place to look that tells you precisely where you are. The “cookie crumb” navigation bar inside Explorer (so called because it acts like it’s leaving behind a trail of Hansel and Gretel cookie crumbs) lets you click any of the right-wedges to navigate to different folders. But all too often, particularly when you’re navigating deep within a complicated folder structure, the cookie crumb list doesn’t go back far enough.

There are three tricks to orienteering within Explorer:

  • Don’t forget to use the Folders list. On the left, underneath the Favorite Links list, sits an option called Folders. Sometimes the Folders list on the left can give you more navigation options than the cookie crumb navigation bar at the top. When digging deep into nested folders, though, you have to expand the width of the Folders list so much you may not be able to see the files anymore!

    The Folders list on the left can tell you more about where you’re located.
    The Folders list on the left can tell you more about where you’re located.
  • Try a cookie crumb. Sometimes, if you aren’t buried too deep in sub-sub-sub-folders, simply clicking inside the cookie crumb navigation bar will convince Vista to divulge the precise location of the current folder.

    Sometimes clicking inside the navigation bar gives you a full pathname for the current folder.
    Sometimes clicking inside the navigation bar gives you a full pathname for the current folder.
  • Make your own path. But when you’re buried deep, there’s only one sure-fire way to find out precisely where you’re located. Hold down the Shift key, right-click a folder on the right side of the window, and choose Copy as Path. That puts the full pathname for the folder you right-clicked in the Windows Clipboard. You can then open Notepad or any sufficiently malleable word processor and paste the pathname where you can see it.

    This trick doesn’t work in the Folders or Favorite Links section on the left.

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