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Windows Explorer \windows\explorer.exe

The default Windows interface, including the Start menu, the Desktop, the Taskbar, the Search tool, the Windows Explorer window, and all folder windows.

To Open

Start Programs Accessories Windows Explorer

Command Prompt explorer

Double-click My Computer or any folder icon on the Desktop or in any folder window


explorer.exe [/n] [/e] [,/root,object] [[/select],subobject]


The Explorer is the default Windows shell (see Figure 4-110). It creates the Desktop, Taskbar, and the Start menu the first time it is run. Running it thereafter (without any command-line parameters) opens a two-paned window (commonly referred to simply as “Explorer”) in which you can navigate through all of the files, folders, and other resources on your computer.

Figure 4-110. Windows Explorer is the primary means of file and folder management in Windows XP

See Chapter 2 for basic navigation and file management principles and Chapter 3 for discussions of the visual elements.

Explorer accepts the following command-line options (note the mandatory commas):


Forces Explorer to open a new window (even if the specified folder is already open somewhere).


Instructs Explorer to display the Folders Explorer Bar (commonly known as the tree) rather than the default single-folder view. In most cases, you’ll want to use /n and /e together.

[/select] ,subobject

Include subobject to specify the file or folder to be initially highlighted or expanded when the folder is opened. If subobject is a folder, it will be expanded in the tree. If you also include the /select parameter (not valid without subobject), the parent of the specified folder is highlighted on the tree, no branches are initially expanded, and subobject will be highlighted in the right pane.

,/root ,object

By default, Explorer opens with the Desktop as the root folder. Use ,/root,object to specify a different root. The object parameter can be a folder name or a class ID (see Chapter 7).

For example, if you want Explorer to open to the My Computer folder so that no drive branches are initially expanded (handy if you have several drives), type the following:

explorer.exe /n, /e, /select, c:\

To open an Explorer window rooted at the My Documents folder, type:

explorer.exe /e,/root,c:\Documents and Settings\
{user}\My Documentwhere {user} is the username 
of the owner of the My Documents folder.

CD burning

Windows XP is the first version of Windows to include support for CD writers built into the operating system (or more specifically, into Windows Explorer and Windows Media Player) (see Figure 4-111). It’s quite easy to use, but it doesn’t offer the flexibility of most third-party CD burning applications.

Figure 4-111. Configure Windows XP’s built-in support for CD writers with the Properties window for your CD recorder

If you have a CD recorder, follow these steps:

  1. Open Explorer, right-click on the drive icon for your CD recorder, and select Properties.

  2. Choose the Recording tab and make sure the “Enable CD recording on this drive” option is turned on. Set any other options here as desired and click OK.

  3. Drag-drop files onto the drive as though it were just another hard disk. You can even create folders and rearrange files by dragging and dropping.

  4. When you’re done, right-click the drive icon (or the Files Ready to Be Written to the CD note above the file listing) and select Write these files to CD.

  5. The CD Writing Wizard appears (see Figure 4-112), which allows you to specify a label for the disk (a task that is unavailable elsewhere). Follow the instructions here to complete the process.

Figure 4-112. When you’re ready to burn files to a CD, open the CD Writing Wizard

This procedure will write data CDs that can be read by nearly all CD drives, regardless of the operating system. See “Windows Media Player”, later in this chapter, for details on making audio CDs.


  • Press Ctrl-F or F3 in any open folder or Explorer window to begin a file search from that location. If the folder tree is shown, it will be replaced with the search pane.

  • Most options for Explorer are located in Folder Options, which is accessible through Explorer’s Tools menu or through Control Panel. The options are documented in Chapter 5.

  • The built-in CD burning feature might interfere with some third-party CD recording applications. If you have trouble getting your CD recording software to work with Windows XP, check with the manufacturer of the software (and possibly the drive) for updates.

See Also

“Internet Explorer”, “Folder Options”, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 (specifically, “Shortcuts” and “Start Menu”)

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