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If you have multiple Explorer windows open it can be difficult to see which is which from the taskbar buttons. There's a setting for that.

I just got a new computer.

On the old one, the taskbar shows open folders correctly: "Folder Name". It makes it easy to see which one you want to click on to get the desired folder up front.

On the new computer, the tab on the taskbar shows the folder name as "C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Desktop\Folder Name" -- and since all that doesn't FIT on the little tab, they ALL read "C:\Docume...", which means they're quite useless labels. How do I get it to just show the end folder name?

It's actually another of Windows buried and somewhat obscure settings.

In fact, I didn't even connect what this setting was for until I got this question.

What this question is about is the difference between:

Windows Taskbar showing Windows Explorer open on a folder


Windows Taskbar showing Windows Explorer open on a folder

Both of these are Windows Explorer open on the same folder: "C:\Documents and Settings\LeoN\My Documents\My Music". The difference is in how Windows Explorer deals with the fact that the full path name is much too long to fit in the taskbar icon.

This brings us to our first point of clarification: Windows Explorer doesn't know or care about the taskbar or its icon thereon. In fact, most programs don't. The task bar simply uses an application's window title as the text to place in the button.

What Windows Explorer does care about then is its Window Title:

Windows Explorer title, with only the folder name


Windows Explorer title, with full path

Knowing that what we're really changing is the window title, all of a sudden one of Windows Explorer's buried options becomes much, much clearer.

In Windows Explorer:

  • Click on the Tools menu

  • Click on the Folder Options... menu item

  • Click on the View tab

  • In the Advanced settings: list

  • Look for the setting Display the full path in the title bar

Windows Explorer options, highlighting the display full paht in title bar

Check that, and you'll get the full path in the title bar, and in my examples, the truncated "C:/Document..." in the task bar button. UNcheck it and you'll get the folder name.

I also suggest that while you're in those settings you also click on Apply to All Folders to make your preference permanent.

Article C3608 - January 2, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

January 6, 2009 10:43 AM

When I click on Tools in Internet Explorer, there is no Folder Options menu item. However, when I go into Control Panel, the Folder Options menu item is there.

Rex Williamson
January 6, 2009 10:49 AM

You need to open an Explorer window and not an Internet Explorer window. Basically, open My Computer. From here, follow Leo's directions and all should be well for you Linda.

August 12, 2010 3:08 AM

thank you for your post....was very helpful...but i was wondering whether it is posible to shift the name of the folder into the middle of the title bar so that it looks like mac explorer.,,reply me plsssss

Not that I'm aware of, no.

October 27, 2012 8:13 AM

This setting does work for me but the full path length in the title bar is being truncated to somewhere around 90 characters. Can you tell me if there is a setting in the registry that will allow me to set the maximum path length that will be shown in a Windows XP title bar so a deeper path will be displayed fully without being truncated?


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