How to add quick access to your favorite folders in the Save/Open window

Commonly-used folders are just a click away on the Places Bar in Windows XP and Favorite Links in Vista, but they might not be the folders you use most often. This article will teach you how to customize which folders Windows gives you quick access to.
Published: Oct 4, 2007
Author: Jordan Running
Related OS: XP / Vista

When you save or open a file from a program in Windows, you might notice that it gives you quick access on the left to a few commonly-used folders: My Documents, the desktop, and others. This is called the Places Bar in Windows XP, or Favorite Links in Windows Vista, and it's pretty convenient if Microsoft's way of organizing files lines up with your own. However, if you prefer to keep your files in other places around your hard drive, they're pretty useless.

Fortunately, like most things in Windows, the folders that appear in the Places Bar and Favorite Links can be customized, but for some reason Microsoft declined to make it obvious just how to do it. I'll show you how.

Customizing the Places Bar in Windows XP

Windows XP Places BarThere's no built-in way to customize the Places Bar in Windows XP, which is a bummer. Fortunately, someone at Microsoft realized what a huge omission it was and built that functionality into the free Tweak UI Power Toy. To get started, download Tweak UI from Microsoft, install it, and start it up.

Tweak UI has lots of great options for power users, but there's just one we're after right now. Click on the little arrow next to Common Dialogs on the left, and then click on (you guessed it) Places Bar. Now choose the "Custom places bar" radio button and you'll have to option to specify five folders that are shown in Open and Save dialogs.

Tweak UI

If you click on the drop-down arrow you can choose from a variety of default options. If the folder you want isn't among those options, you can enter its full path. If you don't know the folder's path, it's easy to find out. Just navigate to the folder in Windows (so you can see its contents) and copy its path (Edit > Copy or Ctrl+C) from the Address bar at the top. The path will begin with "C:", "D:", or similar., although if it's a network location it might start with "".

Folder path

Now go back to Tweak UI and paste the address you just copied into one of the fields under "Custom places bar." From now on that folder will show up in the Places Bar for easy access when you try to open or save a file from within an application.

Customizing Favorite Links in Windows Vista

Windows Vista Favorite LinksWhile Vista still doesn't make it obvious how to change the Favorite Links around, it does make it very easy once you know how. All you have to do is drag and drop! If you want to change the order of the links, all you have to do is click and drag. Just make sure you release the mouse button when you see the thick black horizontal line--otherwise you're liable to drop the folder you're trying to move into another of the folders.

If you want to add a folder to the list, just find the folder and drag it to the list. Don't worry, you won't be actually moving the folder, you'll just be making a link to it. Again, make sure you're dropping it between folders (you'll know by the heavy black line that appears between them) instead of into one.

To delete one of the Favorite Links, just right-click on it and choose Delete or Remove Link, or drag it to the Recycle Bin. Vista won't let you delete some items like Desktop and Computer, however--the best you can do with these is move them to the bottom of the list and forget about them.

About Jordan Running

Blogger since 1999, Jordan Running went pro in 2005 and never looked back. Sometimes programmer, occasional photographer, and serial tinkerer, he decided to to switch to Linux in 2001 but just hasn't quite gotten around to it yet.

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