How to Auto Expand Sub-Folders in Explorer just like XP in Windows 7 [Tips]

The Problem

Windows Explorer in Windows 7, by default will not expend the sub-folders on the side navigation. Unlike in Windows XP, when you select the folder say under My Documents, the side navigation will auto expand all the sub-folder that are under My Documents. This is not the case anymore in Windows 7, instead it just shows the root level directory Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos etc. So every time if you want to go jump between the sub-folders you either need to jump back to the previous level and find the folder you are looking for or click the drop down arrow to expand the folder.

windows explorer

The Solution

Thankfully there is a way to bring the old trick back in Windows 7.

Go to Folder Options …


Check “Automatically expand to current folder” and apply the setting


Now whenever you are on the sub-folder you can easily navigate between other folders.

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  4. How To Fix The Slow Loading of Folders in Windows 7 & 8
  5. How To Pin Folders In Windows 7 Taskbar
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  • Chris. Stilwell

    I have done the recommended fix, but it still does not auto expand the sub-folders, as XP.
    Any Ideas?
    I have a new Acer Aspire 89422G with pre-installed Windows 7.
    Many thanks.

  • tijs


  • Albertwilkins

    Every single example of this fails to do as promised. The goal is not (!!!) to expand in the detail window. The goal is to expand in the NAVIGATION PANE. THIS DOES NOT DO THAT.
    But then, nor do any of the other ‘hacks’.

  • Jonathan

    make sure you click apply after you done the change, if still doesn’t work. Try log out and log back in again