Windows 11 Open File Explorer to This PC, OneDrive or Downloads

This post will show you how in Windows 11 open File Explorer to This PC, OneDrive or Downloads. There is a dedicated setting in folder options to set This PC as the startup location. However, the ability to make the Downloads folder the default location is a secret hidden feature.

When a user clicks the File Explorer icon on the taskbar or the Desktop, Windows 11 opens the "Quick Access" section. It provides quick access to recently used files and pinned folders. While the idea itself sounds and works well for many, other users dislike that arrangement, especially if they have several drives they need to open frequently. Here is how you can switch to open File Explorer on "This PC" in Windows 11 instead of "Quick Access."

Open File Explorer to This PC in Windows 11

  1. First, open the Folder Options dialog. Open File Explorer and click the three-dots button on the toolbar, and select Options.
  2. On the General tab, find the Open File Explorer to: drop-down menu.
  3. Select This PC.
  4. Click OK to save changes.

That is it. From now on, Windows 11 will be opening File Explorer to the "This PC" location, not  "Quick Access." That applies to all the methods you may use to open File Explorer, such as a shortcut on the taskbar, Win + E buttons, the list of all apps, etc. If you want to revert changes to the original state, repeat the process above and set the Open File Explorer option to Quick Access.

Starting in build 22593, you can set Explorer to always open to OneDrive. Do the following.

Open File Explorer to OneDrive

  1. Open File Explorer using the shortcut in the Start menu, taskbar, or with the Win + E hotkey.
  2. Click the "See more" button with three horizontal dots.
  3. Select "Options" from the menu (the last item).
  4. On the General tab, select OneDrive from the drop-down list next to the "Open File Explorer to".

You are done. Again, this is only available if you have installed Windows 11 build 22593 or above.

Now, here is a way to make it open to Downloads. This requires you to apply a simple Registry tweak. Additionally, we will look at how to make it open to any of the pre-defined startup locations via the Registry.

Open Windows 11 File Explorer to Downloads

  1. Launch the Registry Editor app by entering regedit into the Run dialog (Win + R).
  2. Expand open the left pane to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced.
  3. There, modify or create a new 32-bit DWORD value, and name it "LaunchTo".
  4. Set the LaunchTo value to one of the following numbers:
    • 1 – File Explorer opens to This PC.
    • 2 – File Explorer opens to Quick access.
    • 3 – File Explorer opens to the Downloads folder. The value data of 3 is not configurable through the user interface and can be set only in the Registry.
    • 4-  File Explorer opens to OneDrive.
  5. Now, open File Explorer (Win + E). With LaunchTo set to 3 it will open the Downloads folder.

That's it!

If you are not happy with the Registry editing, you can go with Winaero Tweaker, that gives you a nice GUI option for setting the desired Explorer startup location.

Set Explorer startup location in Winaero Tweaker

  1. Visit this page to download the app, and install it.
  2. In the left pane, go to File Explorer > File Explorer Starting Folder.
  3. On the right, select the desired folder to be the Explorer startup folder.

Tip: Did you know that you can force Windows 11 to open custom folders when you click the File Explorer icon? Learn how to make File Explorer open a custom folder instead of This PC or Quick Access in Windows 11. Although the article mentions Windows 10, it also works in Windows 11.

File Explorer in Windows 11 received many cosmetic changes. Apart from moving the Folder Options into a submenu, Microsoft changed how you can show or hide hidden files and folders.

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