Add custom folders or Control Panel applets to Navigation Pane in File Explorer

The ability to customize the navigation pane area was what many users wanted in modern versions of Windows. Unfortunately, out of the box, Windows does not provide an easy way to change items visible on the left in File Explorer. With recent releases, Microsoft made possible to hide Favorites and Libraries, but it is still not possible to add custom items or remove items like This PC or Homegroup without using Registry hacks. Today, I would like to show how to change this and add custom folders or Control Panel applets to the Navigation Pane in File Explorer.

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With the recently released version 0.5.0.5 of Winaero Tweaker, you can customize folders present in the Navigation pane of Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8 and Windows 7. With the help of my app, you can also remove any of the predefined folders like This PC/Computer, HomeGroup, Network etc or add any custom folder there. Let's see how this feature works.

Add a custom folder to the navigation Pane of File Explorer

In Winaero Tweaker 0.5.0.5, there is a new option under Explorer \ Navigation Pane - Custom Items.custom items

By default, its list is empty, since you have not added anything yet.

Here you can add a custom folder or a Control Panel applet (shell location).

To add a custom folder to the navigation pane, click the button Add custom folder to get this dialog:navigation pane - add custom folders

Under Select folder, use the Browse button to find the desired folder. For example, let's add the C:\Users\Username\Appdata folder, as that's where many applications store their settings and data. You can add any folder you want instead.navigation pane - add a folder

The option called Display as and Icon allows you to specify how the new item will be named and show in the navigation pane.navigation pane - custom folder dialog
Once you set it and click "Add Folder", re-open the Explorer app. It will reflect your changes.navigation pane - custom folder added

Add Control Panel items to the navigation pane of File Explorer

The same can be done for Control Panel items, as follows.
You can add special shell locations to the navigation pane. For example, let's add the popular God Mode shell location, which displays all Control Panel settings in one big list, and the folder called "Network Connections".

To add Control panel items to the navigation Pane of File Explorer, you need to press the Add Shell Location button. In the next dialog, you will see a long list of available shell locations on your computer. These include a number of hidden shell locations you might have never seen and almost all the Control Panel applets. Tick the desired items to add them all at once:navigation pane - add an applet

Click on the Add button and re-open File Explorer. You will get the selected items added to the navigation pane:navigation pane - applets in NP

Hide default items from the navigation pane of File Explorer

Using Winaero Tweaker, you can hide unused items of the navigation pane. In Windows 10, you can also restore Favorites to the navigation pane and hide the Quick Access item. Just untick the items you want to hide under Explorer \ Navigation Pane - Default Items.

navigation pane - default items

That's it. Under the hood of this feature, there are a number of complex Registry tweaks, which Winaero Tweaker does for you quickly and saves your time. Feel free to leave your suggestions and opinions about these features of Winaero Tweaker in the comments.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer from Russia who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

35 thoughts on “Add custom folders or Control Panel applets to Navigation Pane in File Explorer”

  1. I launched a version for Windows 7, added folders and shell, but these are duplicated on the desktop. My Win7 is x64.

        1. Thanks, now is fine )

          p.s. Realization of bookmarks is handy. It`s cool. They are stored in the registry? What key I need to export to transfer them to another PC ?

    1. I searched (using a search term of the custom icon location to find it) for the entry in registry under: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\
      Then I added a DWORD called SortOrderIndex with a value of 49 to move my custom folder to the top of the navigation pane as example. Hope this makes sense?

  2. Please, add an option to sort all items (default and custom) together. For instance, I’d like to place one custom shortcut before the default ones.

  3. thanks alot for this app, but i have a problem. i would like to rename 2 custom shell icons in my explorer navigation pane, for example “control panel” and “recycle bin” are showen in english, i would like to rename it to german like the rets of my os. any tips are welcome.

  4. Could you please tell me how tp add a custom folder to the navigation Pane of File Explorer with regedit. I can never remember all the tweaks I make so I am making a reg file for new installs

  5. Having a couple blank windows. Running version 0.16.1.0 on windows 10 pro version 1909. I uninstalled ran ccleaner, downloaded again and still the same blank windows.

  6. Спасибо Вам за чудесное приложение! Можно обратиться за советом? То-ли у меня баг, то-ли ещё что то. Вот в чем суть : добавляю я папку (нажимаю custom folder) “рабочий стол”. Он отображается все как надо, но когда на него кликаешь то проводник виснет где-то на секунд 10. Другие елементы что добавлял открываются нормально. И ещё одна проблема когда добавляю любую shell folder (либо загрузки либо рабочий стол) то в панели навигации эти элементы дублируются. Притом если взять елемент рабочий стол, то открытие первого проходит нормально без зависания проводника. В тоже время открытие второго дубляжа как я описывал выше приводит к подвисанию проводника. У меня windows 10 сборка 1909 Помогите пожалуйста

    1. Мой почтение.
      А если проводник перезапустить? Ну или выйти из системы и зайти снова?
      Я наблюдал появление дубликатов в панели навигации, но обычно они сами пропадали после перезапуска проводника, и подвисаний не было.
      Попробуйте завершить сеанс и зайти в вашу учётную запись Windows снова.

      1. Пробовал и перезагрузить и проводник и пк, пробовал выход из учетной записи. Ничего, к сожалению, не помогает…

      2. А можно пожалуйста попросить Вас написать тогда отдельно файл регистра чтоб прописать отдельно папку “рабочий стол” в панель навигацию?

          1. Буду очень признателен за помощь. Спасибо большое. Можно попросить мне на почту скинуть файл (shevadimochka@gmail.com)

          2. Извините за беспокойство, Вы сможете помочь с командой для реестра виндоус 10 чтобы разместить ссылку на рабочий стол в панель навигации. К сожалению я не смог найти сам информацию в интернете как это сделать самому.

  7. Hello,
    since the latest Win10 Feature Update to version 2004, my custom navigation items are no longer displayed in WA Tweaker’s setting page (‘Navigation Pane – Custom Items’)… I have the items ‘Control Panel’ and ‘Recycle Bin’, added under Windows 1909, and both items display in Windows Explorer.
    Moreover, when I click “Control Panel”, the Explorer window closes, and Control Panel is opened in a new window. Before the upgrade, this could be accessed within the same window.

    Can I use Regedit to fix this issue somehow? Thank you!!

  8. Hello,
    since the latest Win10 Feature Update to version 2004, my custom navigation items are no longer displayed in WA Tweaker settings (‘Navigation Pane – Custom Items’)…
    I have the items ‘Control Panel’ and ‘Recycle Bin’, added under Windows 1909, and both items display fine in Windows Explorer. However, when I click “Control Panel”, the Explorer window closes, and Control Panel is opened in a new window. Before the upgrade, this could be accessed within the same window.

    Can I use Regedit to fix this issue somehow? Thank you!!

  9. Hi Sergery,
    I was very impressed with the latest Windows Tweaker and decided to try the Context Menu Tuner also. However, I now have a similar issue as above where explorer crashes if I try to open a file or right click within a folder. I’m also unable to revert it back within the tool as it doesn’t do anything when I click “remove”
    Is there any way the registry can be reverted back using your one of your apps?
    Thanks and regards,
    Tom

    1. 1. Open Task Manager
      2. Click on “show more details” to make it show all tabs (if needed).
      3. In the menu, click on File > New task…
      4. Browse for the ContextMenuTuner.exe file and run it.
      5. Remove the last entry you have added.
      6. Please write here in comments WHAT EXACTLY it was – I will prevent that command from appearing in the list of available commands in the app.

  10. Is there a way to add network locations ?
    When i try to add “\\wsl$” i get an error “You can’t open this location using this program. Please try a different location.”
    I want all my distros to be displayed under a separate category with a WSL label like this:
    WSL
    > Kali
    > Ubuntu
    What is the proper way of doing ?

  11. Hello,
    I’ve used the “Navigation Pane – Default Items” panel to remove my personal OneDrive folder from the File Explorer sidebar, is it possible to do the same for my work OneDrive account?

  12. Hi! I used the app to pin my downloads folder to the navigation pane, but instead of one folder, I end up having two folders. This will also happen with any shell location I pinnend there. How can I fix this?

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