Working with the Favorite Items in Vista Explorer

by Daniel Petri - January 7, 2009

Windows Vista comes with a new and shiny user interface. Most of the things we've gotten used to in Windows XP are still there, in one way or another, but there are also many new features that need getting used to. One of the most noticeable changes is the way the Windows Vista Explorer, in which we can browse through our disks and partitions, look for files and documents, and perform many administrative tasks.

One of the new features of the Explorer interface (and there are many new features, just take a look at "Quickly Copy File and Folder Path in Windows Vista", "Quickly Open Command Prompt Here in Windows Vista", "Quickly Zoom on File and Folder Details in Windows Vista" and many more) is the ability to use a new cascading type of menu called "Favorites". This favorites menu has nothing to do with your real Internet Explorer Favorites, but instead it allows the user to easily go to some of the most used folders in their computer, places like Documents, Pictures, Music and other recently-opened folders, and is similar to the Places bar feature in pre-Vista operating systems. The Explorer Favorites menu is located in the top left hand side of the Windows Vista Explorer window:

I personally find that the Favorites links menu is just taking too much valuable screen space, and I really do not need a reminder of where MY PERSONAL favorite items are located. I would like to get rid of it, or at least customize it to my personal needs. So read on, and I'll show you how to do that.

Hiding the Favorite Links

To hide the Favorite links, hover with the mouse pointer at the top border of the Folders pane. When the resize cursor appears and turns into a double-headed arrows, drag the handle higher and cover the Favorite links area.

The Favorite links area is now hidden.

You can easily use the same steps for Open and Save As dialog boxes separately.

Restoring the Favorite Links

Once you've hidden it, in order to restore the Favorite links, hover with the mouse pointer at the top border of the Folders pane. When the resize cursor appears and turns into a double-headed arrows, drag the handle lower till the Favorite links menu appears and is in the right place.

BTW, once you've hidden the Favorites links menu you can switch to seeing it in one click, then revert back to hiding it in another click. All you have to do is to click on the little carrot pointing down that can be found on the top right hand side of the left navigation menu (marked with a yellow box in the following screenshot). The Favorites links menu will slide down and hide the regular folders menu.

When you click back, you will hide the Favorites links menu and restore the regular folder menu.

Hiding the one or more links from the Favorite Links

To hide one or more link from the Favorite links menu you can simply right-click that link and select Remove Link.

Restoring the one or more DEFAULT links to the Favorite Links

To restore one or more of the DEFAULT links to the Favorite links menu after you've removed them, right-click an empty spot in the Favorites links area and select Restore Default Favorite Links.

Adding one or more CUSTOM links to the Favorite Links

The Favorite Links menu is in fact simply a folder that holds shortcuts. Once you get the idea, it's quite easy to add or remove items that are in fact shortcuts to that list of links. In the Favorite links menu right-click and empty spot and select Open Favorites Links Folder.

A new window will appear, and when you look closely at it you'll see that it is in fact the C:\Users\USERNAME\Links folder. Right-click an empty spot in the right pane of the window and select New > Shortcut.

In the Browse for files or folders window browse to the folder of your choice. I've used D:\Downloads as a favorite folder.

    

Give the new shortcut a name of your choice, then press Finish.

Bingo, you've got yourself a new Favorite link.

Note that this link will also appear in the Save As window, so it's much easier to get to the download location.

Use your imagination to play around with this feature and add more functionality to your explorer window.

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