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Taming Windows 10 File Explorer

Filed under: Windows — 2015-11-30 by Richard L. Hess — Last Edit 2015-11-30 by Richard L. Hess

Here, now you can have the benefit of a day’s research and tweaking.

Windows 10 File Explorer provides vast quantities of information that can, at times, be overwhelming.

My goal here was to simplify the interface and provide only what I needed. There was lots of good help on the Web and many options. This is what I decided to do, at least for my five machines. Fortunately, much of this is the same from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, so there is lots of documentation out there, but it’s not all in one place. Here’s my attempt. I WILL BE USING REGISTRY MODIFICATIONS. IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE DOING THIS, THEN DO NOT DO IT. Make a backup. There are other ways of making things work if you wish to take a different approach, but I will leave that exercise to you. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. I cannot help you if things go awry. I have tested this on two desktops.


Part of the strategy here is I will be using Quick Access in two ways: (1) Only pinning folders (not using “Frequent folders” auto-add). Use View/Options to control this within File manager. Quick Access is quick and is easily modified on the fly. The limit of 8 auto-add folders+pinned folders does not apply if one pins more. I don’t know what the limit is, I think it might be 18-20.

Then I wanted to move Libraries up next and those are more formally configured Documents and other “main” file areas on each PC. For example, my cloud folders (Dropbox, Creative Cloud, One Drive, Google Drive) are all under my main Documents folder (which is actually on the NAS at home, but may be moving to Dropbox).

Since I control my documents within Libraries, I only wanted the hard drive(s) of the machine (default Dell naming, sorry) to show. In addition, any USB or optical drives will show up there when loaded. I did not want the removable drives showing up in the main tree.

Finally, I wanted my Network…four main items in the main tree, and my two most-used NAS units are already in Quick Access.

If you wish to start File Explorer with a different focus at various times, check out this article:
The three downloads are shortcut files using CLSID shortcuts. At the bottom, there are links to a list of these and Shell Commands.

Now, let’s get to work:

(1) Remove auto-add folders to “Frequent folders.” View>Options> On the bottom of the General tab is “Privacy” I unclicked “Show frequently used folders in Quick access. Apply OK

(2) I had Cloud services pinned in QUick Access. No thanks. Right Click > Unpin from Quick access.

(3) Next I had Creative Cloud Files as a MAIN item. This took the most sleuthing.
Change System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree from 1 to 0
While here (this pattern will repeat in other areas) notice that there is another variable:
SortOrderIndex I have not figured out how these are numbered, but the lower the number, the higher it is in the list.

(4) Next, I removed Dropbox
Provided this key:
Change System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree from 1 to 0 in all four
The first two are the 64 bit menu system
The second two (Wow6432) will control how things show up in dialogs in 32-bit applications (many office apps).

(5) Now it’s OneDrive’s turn
is a wealth of information. It tells you how to remove

PART 1: Remove OneDrive Icon from Navigation Pane of This PC
PART 2: Remove Quick Access Icon from Navigation Pane of This PC
PART 3: Remove Homegroup Icon from Navigation Pane of This PC
PART 4: Remove Network Icon from Navigation Pane of This PC
PART 5: Remove Removable Drive Icon from Navigation Pane of This PC

Change System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree from 1 to 0 in both

(6) Now let’s remove Homegroup
In this section, you will need to take ownership of the registry key to change it
ADD System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree as a DWORD (32 bit) with a value of 0 in both

I also disabled the services for HOMEGROUP which has to be done from the properties dialog.
Run services.msc gets you there, highlight the two Homegroup services in turn and adjust properties.
The defaults are: HomeGroup Listener: Manual; HomeGroup Provider: Manual (Trigger Start).

(7) Now to remove the removable drive icons from the Navigation Pane, go in turn to each of these
In each of these, there will be a key {F5FB2C77-0E2F-4A16-A381-3E560C68BC83}
which needs to be deleted. However, I found renaming it to {F5FB2C77-0E2F-4A16-A381-3E560C68BC83xxxxx}
provided the same results and made it easier to restore in the future.

(8) Moving Libraries ABOVE “This PC”
This is a good resource for finding unique CLSID Identifiers (this version is from Windows 8)
And we find that Library is:
Modify SortOrderIndex to a value of 22 decimal (it starts out at 84 decimal).
You may have to take ownership as above.

(9) Now we need to clean up the mess of “This PC”. I just like the HDDs and hide all the other default folders from the Navigation Pane but leave a few in the Detail Pane.
Download This PC Tweaker
You will be able to adjust what shows up where, easily. Just highlight one at a time and check/uncheck the boxes.

There, that does it.

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