How do I customize the Favorite Links section of the File Open dialog?


In the standard File Open dialog in Windows Vista and Windows 7, the top of the navigation bar contains a section called Favorite Links (on Windows Vista) or just Favorites (on Windows 7). These items also appear in the Explorer window's Navigation Pane. How do I customize those links?

You add or remove them from your Links folder.

To open your Links folder on Windows Vista, open the Start menu and click on your name. This opens an Explorer window to view your user profile. Double-click the folder called Links. On Windows; 7, it's much easier: Right-click the word Favorites and select Open in new window. Anyway, once you get the folder open one way or another, you can edit the list. To remove an item from the list, just delete it from the folder. To add a folder to the list, drag it in. (The default action for the Links folder is Create Shortcut.)

Note that only shortcuts to folders will work here, or more specifically, shortcuts to containers, because when you click on an item, the File Open dialog needs to show you the contents of the item you selected.

Comments (12)
  1. antgiant says:

    Alternately, you can just drag stuff on to it in the Explorer window's Navigation Pane and it will properly create the shortcuts for you.  Right-Click on an existing shortcut and remove is an option.  For some reason I am reminded of blogs.msdn.com/…/9581563.aspx  :-)

  2. Dan Bugglin says:

    Yeah I was gonna say what that guy said.  It's intuitive enough to figure out with a little drag and drop.

    It's also worth noting that applications can control the content of their own favorite folders in their open/save dialogs.  IIRC if you declare any they completely replace the user folders there.

    .NET dialogs have a property for it IIRC, though it does nothing on XP.  I had hoped it would have allowed you to customize the side folders in the XP dialog, but I must assume that was a bit too hackish for the .NET team to consider since it doesn't work.  Oh well.

  3. configurator says:

    @Dan, No, they don't replace the user's folders. For example, VS 2010 creates a favourite folder list under 'Visual Studio 2010', containing 'Projects', but my own FavoritesProject still exists.

  4. Marquess says:

    If only you could somehow force programs to use the standard dialog. And I'm not even talking about the abomination that is XYZ.

  5. Steve Hazel says:

    Is there any way to get RID of that dang "Favorite Links" area in the top left of windows explorer?

    I'd rather just list c: in the "Folders" area

  6. Steve Hazel says:

    Ah, got my own answer (can you tell my IT dept migrated me to a new domain today?)

    Win Explorer's ToolsOptions menu

    view tab

    uncheck "display simple folder view in navigation pane"

    (hit ok button)

    That "Favorite Links" thing doesn't go away,

    but you CAN scoot the "Folders" part of the pane up which will hide it.

  7. Tom says:

    Steve, try XYplorer.  You can easily customize it to have whatever folders you'd like in that spot, or none at all.  It's great.  I've been Explorer-free (for file browsing) since Vista came out and have been loving every minute of it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    MS has totally ruined the usability of the common Open/Save dialog in Windows 7.

    • By using the same navigation pane as the one in Explorer instead of an uncluttered places bar with few large icons, the whole area needs constant scrolling. Why can't I have 5 simple easy to click large icons minus the clutter and scroll bar?
    • Another bug introduced in Windows 7 but not present in Vista's dialogs: In a Save dialog in any app (Notepad or IE download window), type the file name first, then click on any location in the Favorite pane and then hit Enter. Nothing happens although the default button is still Save as highlighted in blue. You have to click Save by using the mouse. Enter to Save does NOT work when focus is on any navigation pane item. Please fix this in SP1.

    • Add to these annoyances, the extremely super-annoying scrolling bug in Windows 7's Explorer. Which bug?: social.answers.microsoft.com/…/50a81b05-da98-4d55-821d-55ffbbd0e998

    And yet instead of being a huge bugfix for the ruined shell/Explorer, MS is saying SP1 will just be regular hotfixes. Seriously, shell team, get your act together.

  9. fy_ms_blogs_for_making_me_login_to_read says:

    Anonymous: Oh, they totally ruined it? I thought it was ruins in Vista already, after being severely degraded from a failure of a system that was XP (failure even in comparison to Windows Me, which was far worse than 98 by itself. And everybody knows that 98 was nothing more than 95 with a few new backgrounds).

    [Dear "must login to read": My psychic powers tell me that you need to upgrade to Firefox 3.6.4. -Raymond]
  10. yuriks says:

    @Anonymous: You seriously think that the 5 large, non-customizable, and to me, pointing to largely useless places are better than a bar where you have instant access to all disk and network drives and any numbers of directories you can choose yourself?

  11. Ooh says:

    +1 for the annoying scrolling bug in Win7 Explorer.

    However, this has nothing to do with the Favorite Links section of the File Open dialog… (at least I *know* that I'm posting a comment which is totally unrelated to the blog post)

  12. Anonymous says:

    @yuriks, are you aware that those 5 places are customizable using TweakUI or the registry? So they are not non-customizable and NOT useless if you customize them. They are always visible and don't require scrolling (muscle memory which the 7 taskbar has with the concept of "pinning") but which is lost due to the scroll bar.

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