Make Explorer Navigation Pane expand to open folder in Windows 10

When you click on the File Explorer icon in Windows 10, it displays a navigation folder on the left, and Quick Access details on the right. If you notice, the folders list in the navigation pane does not list all the folders inside it. It only expands when you click on the small arrow pointing to the left. In this post, we will share a tip which helps you make Explorer navigation pane automatically expand to open the folder in Windows 10.

Automatically Expands Folders in Navigation Panel

Make Explorer Navigation Pane expand to open folder

We are talking about automatically expanding the folder in the left navigation pane when you click on Windows 10 File Explorer. There are three ways to do it:

  1. Use Navigation Folder or use the menu
  2. Change folder & search options.
  3. Change via Registry Settings.

Use these tips smartly. Some of them work temporarily, while some are a permanent solution. The registry hack should be used if you are configuring a computer remotely.

Just before we go ahead, let’s get to know a bit about each of these options:

  • Show libraries: Displays all the libraries.
  • Show all folders: It displays all the folders, including those which are on the desktop in the left-hand pane.
  • Expand to the current folder: It does two things on the left navigation panel
    • Automatically display the root of the selected folder (in the right pane) along with a list of all the folders inside it.
    • When you click on any of the folders listed on the left pane, it will automatically expand in Explorer navigation pane.

1]  Use Navigation Folder or use the menu

Make Explorer Navigation Pane expand to open folder

Once you open the File Explorer, right click on an empty space on the left side, and you can choose between — Show libraries, Show all folders, and Expand to the current folder.

The second option is to use the File Explorer menu. When on File Explorer, switch to View tab available on the ribbon menu. Then click on the Navigation pane menu, you will have the same option as above. Choose Expand to the current folder.

2] Change folder & search options

Make Explorer Navigation Pane Expand to open folder in Windows 10

In the File Explorer, click on the file menu and select Change folder & search options. It will open the Folder Options window. Switch to view section, and then scroll to the end. Here you will have the option to expand to open the folder, check it. Click, OK, and you are done.

Next time you click on any folder, the  Navigation Pane will Expand the folder on the left pane.

3] Change via Registry Settings

Make Explorer Navigation Pane Expand to open folder in Windows 10

Use Registry editor when you have to change options on a couple of computers remotely. If you are not well versed with editing Registry entries, do not use it.

  • Open the Start menu, and type Regedit.
  • It will display the Registry Editor listing. Click to open it.
  • Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
  • There are two settings which you can choose to change
    • NavPaneShowAllFolders relates to Show all folders option.
    • NavPaneExpandToCurrentFolder relates to Expand to the current folder option.
  • Change the value from 0 to 1 to enable it.
  • Click OK and exit to see the changes.

Too many expanded folders can be overwhelming. So unless you have a task which requires to view all the folders, keep this off.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.