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

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 COMMAND DESCRIPTION
shell:AccountPictures Account Pictures
shell:AddNewProgramsFolder The “Get Programs” Control panel item
shell:Administrative Tools Administrative Tools
shell:AppData Same as %appdata%, the c:\user\<username>\appdata\roaming folder
shell:Application Shortcuts Opens the folder which stores all Modern apps shortcuts
shell:AppsFolder The virtual folder which stores all installed Modern apps
shell:AppUpdatesFolder The “Installed Updates” Control panel item
shell:Cache IE’s cache folder (Temporary Internet Files)
shell:CD Burning Temporary Burn Folder
shell:ChangeRemoveProgramsFolder The “Uninstall a program” Control panel item
shell:Common Administrative Tools The Administrative Tools folder for all users
shell:Common AppData The C:\ProgramData folder (%ProgramData%)
shell:Common Desktop Public Desktop
shell:Common Documents Public Documents
shell:Common Programs All Users Programs, which are part of Start menu. Still used by the Start screen
shell:Common Start Menu All Users Start Menu folder, same as above
shell:Common Startup The Startup folder, used for all users
shell:Common Templates Same as above, but used for new documents templates, e.g. by Microsoft Office
shell:CommonDownloads Public Downloads
shell:CommonMusic Public Music
shell:CommonPictures Public Pictures
shell:CommonRingtones Public Ringtones folder
shell:CommonVideo Public Videos
shell:ConflictFolder The Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Sync Center\Conflicts item
shell:ConnectionsFolder The Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Network Connections item
shell:Contacts Contacts folder (Address book)
shell:ControlPanelFolder Control Panel
shell:Cookies The folder with IE’s cookies
shell:CredentialManager C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Credentials
shell:CryptoKeys C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Crypto
shell:CSCFolder This folder is broken in Windows 8/7, provides access to the Offline files item
shell:Desktop Desktop
shell:Device Metadata Store C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\DeviceMetadataStore
shell:DocumentsLibrary Documents Library
shell:Downloads Downloads folder
shell:DpapiKeys C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Protect
shell:Favorites Favorites
shell:Fonts C:\Windows\Fonts
shell:Games The Games Explorer item
shell:GameTasks C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\GameExplorer
shell:History C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\History, IE’s browsing history
shell:HomeGroupCurrentUserFolder The Home Group folder for the current user
shell:HomeGroupFolder The Home Group root folder
shell:ImplicitAppShortcuts C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\ImplicitAppShortcuts
shell:InternetFolder This shell command will start Internet Explorer
shell:Libraries Libraries
shell:Links The “Favorites” folder from the Explorer navigation pane.
shell:Local AppData C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local
shell:LocalAppDataLow C:\Users\<username>\AppData\LocalLow
shell:LocalizedResourcesDir This shell folder is broken in Windows 8
shell:MAPIFolder Represents the Microsoft Outlook folder
shell:MusicLibrary Music Library
shell:My Music The “My Music” folder (not the Library)
shell:My Pictures The “My Pictures” folder (not the Library)
shell:My Video The “My Videos” folder (not the Library)
shell:MyComputerFolder Computer/Drives view
shell:NetHood C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts
shell:NetworkPlacesFolder The Network Places folder which shows computers and devices on your network
shell:OEM Links This shell command does nothing on my Windows 8 Retail edition. Maybe it works with OEM Windows 8 editions.
shell:Original Images Not functional on Windows 8
shell:Personal The “My Documents” folder (not the Library)
shell:PhotoAlbums Saved slideshows, seems to have not been implemented yet
shell:PicturesLibrary Pictures Library
shell:Playlists Stores WMP Playlists.
shell:PrintersFolder The classic “Printers” folder (not ‘Devices and Printers’)
shell:PrintHood C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Printer Shortcuts
shell:Profile The User profile folder
shell:ProgramFiles Program Files
shell:ProgramFilesCommon C:\Program Files\Common Files
shell:ProgramFilesCommonX86 C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files – for Windows x64
shell:ProgramFilesX86 C:\Program Files (x86) – for Windows x64
shell:Programs C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs (Per-user Start Menu Programs folder)
shell:Public C:\Users\Public
shell:PublicAccountPictures C:\Users\Public\AccountPictures
shell:PublicGameTasks C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\GameExplorer
shell:PublicLibraries C:\Users\Public\Libraries
shell:Quick Launch C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch
shell:Recent The “Recent Items” folder (Recent Documents)
shell:RecordedTVLibrary The “Recorded TV” Library
shell:RecycleBinFolder Recycle Bin
shell:ResourceDir C:\Windows\Resources where visual styles are stored
shell:Ringtones C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Ringtones
shell:Roamed Tile Images Is not implemented yet. Reserved for future.
shell:Roaming Tiles C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\RoamingTiles
shell:SavedGames Saved Games
shell:Screenshots The folder for Win+Print Screen screenshots
shell:Searches Saved Searches
shell:SearchHomeFolder Windows Search UI
shell:SendTo The folder with items that you can see in the “Send to” menu
shell:Start Menu C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu (Per-user Start Menu folder)
shell:Startup Per-user Startup folder
shell:SyncCenterFolder Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Sync Center
shell:SyncResultsFolder Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Sync Center\Sync Results
shell:SyncSetupFolder Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Sync Center\Sync Setup
shell:System C:\Windows\System32
shell:SystemCertificates C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SystemCertificates
shell:SystemX86 C:\Windows\SysWOW64 -Windows x64 only
shell:Templates C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Templates
shell:User Pinned Pinned items for Taskbar and Start screen, C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned
shell:UserProfiles C:\Users, the users folder where the user profiles are stored
shell:UserProgramFiles Not implemented yet. Reserved for future.
shell:UserProgramFilesCommon same as above
shell:UsersFilesFolder The current user profile
shell:UsersLibrariesFolder Libraries
shell:VideosLibrary Videos Library
shell:Windows  C:\Windows

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 03/22/2016

Posted in: Tips & Tricks , Windows 10 , Windows 8
Discover more: , ,