Command-line switches that you can use to open the GUI Windows Explorer (Explorer.exe).

      Explorer.exe options

    /n            Open a new single-pane window for the default selection. This is usually the root
                  of the drive Windows is installed on. If the window is already open, a duplicate opens.

    /e            Open Windows Explorer in its default view. This is usually the users home drive.

  (,)/root,object Open the specified object in a window view.

   /select,object Open a window view with the specified folder, file or application selected.

   /separate      Launch an explorer instance as a separate process (undocumented option).

Quotation marks are required if the File/Folder object contains spaces or symbols.

If /e or /n are followed by a comma and folder path then explorer will open and display the folder, the /e or /n have no effect, this provides backwards compatibility with older versions of Windows. If the object is given as a filename rather than a folder, the file will be opened using the default application, like START.

Explorer.exe is normally found in the Windows folder, typically C:\Windows\Explorer.exe

Current versions of Windows no longer allow the use of variables such as %username% in a shortcut target executable, but you can pass a variable as a parameter to Explorer.exe making it possible to build shortcuts which open explorer at a given path. A kind of poor mans folder redirection.

Windows File Explorer search box

Windows File explorer supports Advanced Query Syntax (AQS) to help define precise searches.
Microsoft describe this as an 'obsolete technology' but it is still present and mostly working. Searches work for filenames and properties but not reliably for file contents, use a third party tool for that.

File kind to search AQS Keyword Example
All file kinds everything kind:everything
Author author or by author:"Gabrielle Zavin"
Company company company:Microsoft
Date date date:today
date:this week
date:last week
date:next month
date:past month
date:coming year
Date modified datemodified or modified modified:last week
Deleted deleted or isdeleted isdeleted:true
Documents docs kind:docs
Favorites favorites kind:favorites
File extension ext or fileext ext:.txt

File name or foldername


Filename or name filename:MyResume
File name or foldername (exact match) Filename or name filename:=MyResume
Files within a specific folder or any subfolders folder, under or path folder:downloads
folder:"Public\Public Desktop"
Files within a specific folder name foldername or in foldername:mydocs or in:mydocs
Folders folders kind:folders
Music music kind:music
Pictures pics kind:pics
Presentations presentations kind:presentations
Programs programs kind:programs
Size size size:> 5m
Spreadsheets spreadsheets kind:spreadsheets
Status status status:complete
Text documents text kind:text
Title title, subject or about title:"Quarterly Financial"
Videos videos kind:videos

There are additional keywords available but many will only work for specific document types (e.g. datelastprinted: lastsavedby).

You can combine search keywords and file properties with the following operators to broaden or narrow a search.

Operator Example Result
NOT social NOT security Finds items that contain social, but not security.
Space social security Finds items that contain social and security.
OR social OR security Finds items that contain social or security.
Quotation marks "social security" Finds items that contain the exact phrase social security.
Use quotes to match "long filenames".
Parentheses (social security) Finds items that contain social and security in any order.
> date:>11/13/2023
Finds items newer than a given date (use the locale's date format).
Finds items with a size greater than 500 bytes.
< date:<11/13/2023
Finds items older than a given date (use the locale's date format).
Finds items with a size less than 50 Kbytes.
.. date:11/13/21..11/15/21 Finds items with a modified date between the given range (use the locale's date format).

The operators NOT and OR must be in uppercase and can't be combined in the same query.

Similar search options are provided in macOS Finder but with a graphical interface.


Open a Windows Explorer window at the current directory:

C:\some folder\> Explorer .

Open an Explorer window with the 'C:\Demo' folder displayed:

Explorer.exe "C:\Demo"

Open an Explorer window with the 'examples' folder displayed and its parent hidden:

Explorer.exe /root,"C:\Demo\examples"

Open a webpage in Microsoft Edge:

%windir%\explorer.exe microsoft-edge:https://ss64.com

Open an Explorer window with SS64App selected:

Explorer.exe /select,"C:\Demo\SS64App.exe"

Open an Explorer window with C: expanded and SS64App selected:

Explorer.exe /e,/root,"C:\Demo\SS64App.exe"

Open an Explorer window with the share \\server64\FileShare1 :

Explorer.exe /root,"\\server64\FileShare1"

Open an Explorer window with TestApp.exe selected in the share\\server64\FileShare1 :

Explorer.exe /root,\\server64\FileShare1,select,SS64App.exe

Open an Explorer window at the root of the system drive C:\

Explorer \

Open an Explorer window at 'My Documents':

Explorer \\
Explorer /

Open an Explorer window at 'The Computer':

Explorer ','

“From the growth of the Internet through to the mapping of the human genome and our understanding of the human brain, the more we understand, the more there seems to be for us to explore” ~ Martin Rees

Related commands

Shell: folder - Shortcuts to key folders.
CMD - Start a new CMD shell.
RUN Start ➞ RUN commands.
START - Start a program, command or batch file.
ProfileFolders - Location of user profile folders.
Q152457 - Windows Explorer Command-Line Options.

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