Windows Tip: How To Use Shell Command to Open Hidden Folders

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Using File Explorer to navigate through folders to find folders and files is easy but not that easy when you need to access folders like AppData, AppsFolder, Fonts, etc. That’s where this Shell command comes handy.

Generally, a shell command looks like this:

shell:friendly-folder-name

For example,

Running Shell:SendTo opens the SendTo folder in your current user profile.

Run shell sendto

SendTo Folder in the User Profile
SendTo Folder in the User Profile

To find the complete list of friendly-folder-name available on your computer, go to the following location in Registry Editor, and look for the Name value in each of the registry keys

HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FolderDescriptions\

Registry Editor - 2016-03-22 23_19_46

The same trick works on both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 computers. You can also quickly open folders with the local environment variables as well. Check this post for more details.

Here is the list of them that are available in a Windows 8.1 computer, thanks to Winaero for compiling it.

SHELL COMMANDDESCRIPTION
shell:AccountPicturesAccount Pictures
shell:AddNewProgramsFolderThe “Get Programs” Control panel item
shell:Administrative ToolsAdministrative Tools
shell:AppDataSame as %appdata%, the c:\user\<username>\appdata\roaming folder
shell:Application ShortcutsOpens the folder which stores all Modern apps shortcuts
shell:AppsFolderThe virtual folder which stores all installed Modern apps
shell:AppUpdatesFolderThe “Installed Updates” Control panel item
shell:CacheIE’s cache folder (Temporary Internet Files)
shell:CD BurningTemporary Burn Folder
shell:ChangeRemoveProgramsFolderThe “Uninstall a program” Control panel item
shell:Common Administrative ToolsThe Administrative Tools folder for all users
shell:Common AppDataThe C:\ProgramData folder (%ProgramData%)
shell:Common DesktopPublic Desktop
shell:Common DocumentsPublic Documents
shell:Common ProgramsAll Users Programs, which are part of Start menu. Still used by the Start screen
shell:Common Start MenuAll Users Start Menu folder, same as above
shell:Common StartupThe Startup folder, used for all users
shell:Common TemplatesSame as above, but used for new documents templates, e.g. by Microsoft Office
shell:CommonDownloadsPublic Downloads
shell:CommonMusicPublic Music
shell:CommonPicturesPublic Pictures
shell:CommonRingtonesPublic Ringtones folder
shell:CommonVideoPublic Videos
shell:ConflictFolderThe Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Sync Center\Conflicts item
shell:ConnectionsFolderThe Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Network Connections item
shell:ContactsContacts folder (Address book)
shell:ControlPanelFolderControl Panel
shell:CookiesThe folder with IE’s cookies
shell:CredentialManagerC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Credentials
shell:CryptoKeysC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Crypto
shell:CSCFolderThis folder is broken in Windows 8/7, provides access to the Offline files item
shell:DesktopDesktop
shell:Device Metadata StoreC:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\DeviceMetadataStore
shell:DocumentsLibraryDocuments Library
shell:DownloadsDownloads folder
shell:DpapiKeysC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Protect
shell:FavoritesFavorites
shell:FontsC:\Windows\Fonts
shell:GamesThe Games Explorer item
shell:GameTasksC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\GameExplorer
shell:HistoryC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\History, IE’s browsing history
shell:HomeGroupCurrentUserFolderThe Home Group folder for the current user
shell:HomeGroupFolderThe Home Group root folder
shell:ImplicitAppShortcutsC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\ImplicitAppShortcuts
shell:InternetFolderThis shell command will start Internet Explorer
shell:LibrariesLibraries
shell:LinksThe “Favorites” folder from the Explorer navigation pane.
shell:Local AppDataC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local
shell:LocalAppDataLowC:\Users\<username>\AppData\LocalLow
shell:LocalizedResourcesDirThis shell folder is broken in Windows 8
shell:MAPIFolderRepresents the Microsoft Outlook folder
shell:MusicLibraryMusic Library
shell:My MusicThe “My Music” folder (not the Library)
shell:My PicturesThe “My Pictures” folder (not the Library)
shell:My VideoThe “My Videos” folder (not the Library)
shell:MyComputerFolderComputer/Drives view
shell:NetHoodC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts
shell:NetworkPlacesFolderThe Network Places folder which shows computers and devices on your network
shell:OEM LinksThis shell command does nothing on my Windows 8 Retail edition. Maybe it works with OEM Windows 8 editions.
shell:Original ImagesNot functional on Windows 8
shell:PersonalThe “My Documents” folder (not the Library)
shell:PhotoAlbumsSaved slideshows, seems to have not been implemented yet
shell:PicturesLibraryPictures Library
shell:PlaylistsStores WMP Playlists.
shell:PrintersFolderThe classic “Printers” folder (not ‘Devices and Printers’)
shell:PrintHoodC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Printer Shortcuts
shell:ProfileThe User profile folder
shell:ProgramFilesProgram Files
shell:ProgramFilesCommonC:\Program Files\Common Files
shell:ProgramFilesCommonX86C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files – for Windows x64
shell:ProgramFilesX86C:\Program Files (x86) – for Windows x64
shell:ProgramsC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs (Per-user Start Menu Programs folder)
shell:PublicC:\Users\Public
shell:PublicAccountPicturesC:\Users\Public\AccountPictures
shell:PublicGameTasksC:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\GameExplorer
shell:PublicLibrariesC:\Users\Public\Libraries
shell:Quick LaunchC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch
shell:RecentThe “Recent Items” folder (Recent Documents)
shell:RecordedTVLibraryThe “Recorded TV” Library
shell:RecycleBinFolderRecycle Bin
shell:ResourceDirC:\Windows\Resources where visual styles are stored
shell:RingtonesC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Ringtones
shell:Roamed Tile ImagesIs not implemented yet. Reserved for future.
shell:Roaming TilesC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\RoamingTiles
shell:SavedGamesSaved Games
shell:ScreenshotsThe folder for Win+Print Screen screenshots
shell:SearchesSaved Searches
shell:SearchHomeFolderWindows Search UI
shell:SendToThe folder with items that you can see in the “Send to” menu
shell:Start MenuC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu (Per-user Start Menu folder)
shell:StartupPer-user Startup folder
shell:SyncCenterFolderControl Panel\All Control Panel Items\Sync Center
shell:SyncResultsFolderControl Panel\All Control Panel Items\Sync Center\Sync Results
shell:SyncSetupFolderControl Panel\All Control Panel Items\Sync Center\Sync Setup
shell:SystemC:\Windows\System32
shell:SystemCertificatesC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SystemCertificates
shell:SystemX86C:\Windows\SysWOW64 -Windows x64 only
shell:TemplatesC:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Templates
shell:User PinnedPinned items for Taskbar and Start screen, C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned
shell:UserProfilesC:\Users, the users folder where the user profiles are stored
shell:UserProgramFilesNot implemented yet. Reserved for future.
shell:UserProgramFilesCommonsame as above
shell:UsersFilesFolderThe current user profile
shell:UsersLibrariesFolderLibraries
shell:VideosLibraryVideos Library
shell:Windows C:\Windows
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