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How to Open an Explorer Window from the Command Prompt’s Current Directory

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Tags: howto command-line windows
Clipped on: 2020-01-12

We’re going to be working with the start command, so let’s begin with a simple command to open a File Explorer window for the current folder in Command Prompt. At the prompt, just type the following:

start .

The period is used in the Command Prompt as a shorthand for the current folder, so this will open the current folder in File Explorer.

You can also use a double period to open the parent of the current folder. For example, say that in Command Prompt you were currently looking at a folder named “Reports” that was inside a directory named “Project A.” You could type the following command to open the “Project A” folder in File Explorer without leaving the “Reports” folder in Command Prompt:

start ..

And with one command, the “Project A” folder opens up in File Explorer.

You can also build off that double period shorthand be adding a relative path to the end. Let’s continue our example by assuming there was also a folder named “Sales” inside that “Project A” folder. While still in the “Reports” folder, you could type the following command to open the “Sales” folder in File Explorer) without leaving the “Reports” folder in Command Prompt.

start ..\Sales

Of course, you can also type the full path to open any folder on your PC:

start c:\windows\system32

RELATED: How to Open Hidden System Folders with Windows' Shell Command

You can also use the command along with any of the built-in Windows environmental variables or the newer shell: operator styles. So, for example, you could type the following command to open the current user’s AppData folder:

start %APPDATA%

Or a command like this to open the Windows startup folder:

start shell:startup

So, if you’re typing along at the Command Prompt and want to switch to using File Explorer for some tasks, just remember the humble start command. It’s also great for impressing your less savvy friends. Of course, the start command is also used for running programs and there are a number of additional switches available for that function. If you’re curious about those, just type start /? at the Command Prompt to get a full list of switches and how they’re used.