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Turn on inline autocomplete for File Explorer of Windows 8.1

Today, I am going to share with you a brilliant tip which will significantly improve the usability of File Explorer in Windows 8.1. The inline autocomplete feature will save a lot of your time when you work with the Run or Open/Save File dialogs. Let's see the details.

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When you begin typing something in the Run dialog, it tries to suggest you some autocomplete values, which show as a dropdown list. For example:
Run dialogThe same thing happens when you are trying to open a file (or save some document). When you type a few letters, Windows suggests you a name from the files that are already present in the folder:

Save DialogThere is an option for File Explorer which can significantly improve this behavior. It is called "inline autocomplete". When enabled, it will automatically add those suggestions right in the text field besides the dropdown list, so you don't even have to type the full text or select it from the dropdown. In the example, I typed just one letter and the rest got filled in automatically:

Run dialog Inline Save Dialog InlineThis is an awesome feature and is actually present in Windows since Windows 98/IE4 days. Inline autocomplete was removed in Internet Explorer 8 but returned in newer versions of IE.

There are two ways to enable this useful inline autocomplete feature.

Enable inline autocompletion using Internet Options

For some strange reason, the option that controls the File Explorer behavior is located in Internet Options and not Folder Options. To change it from there, do the following:

  1. Open the Internet Options dialog. It can be opened via the Control Panel (Control Panel\Network and Internet\Internet Options):
    control panel internet optionsOr, you can launch it directly from Internet Explorer. In Internet Explorer, press F10 on the keyboard to display the main menu. Choose Tools -> Internet Options: browser menu

    The Internet Options window will appear on the screen:

    internet options

  2. Switch to the Advanced tab. Locate and enable the setting 'Use inline Autocomplete in File Explorer and Run dialog' (under the Browsing section):
    Internet Options Advanced

That's it. Enjoy improved autocomplete functionality in your apps. Microsoft has also split it into 2 options now: one for File Explorer's Run dialog and address bar, and another for Internet Explorer's address bar.

Enable inline autocompletion using a Registry tweak (the geeky way)

  1. Open the Registry editor (see how).
  2. Go to the following key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AutoComplete

    Tip: You can access any desired Registry key with one click. If this key doesn't exist, just create it.

  3. Create a string value named Append Completion and set its value to yes:
    Append Completion
  4. Close all Explorer windows and restart Explorer. Alternatively, instead of restarting Explorer.exe, you can also log off and log back in.

That's it.

Bonus tip: did you notice how my Registry Editor right pane columns are perfectly resized? See the following tutorial to learn how to achieve the same result with a keyboard shortcut: Use this secret keyboard shortcut to fit all columns in Explorer and other apps

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer 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.

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