I'm moving some folders to an external storage drive and replacing them with a Shortcut, however the shortcut is listed in with the Files, not the Folders. It also doesn't show up in the folder Tree View that's on the left side of Windows Explorer.

Is there a way to make Windows Explorer treat a Shortcut Folder the same way it would a regular Folder?

  • 3
    I guess this is not possible. However, you may be able to achieve what you want if you use NTFS junction points or symbolic links instead of shortcuts. – netvope Nov 9 '11 at 17:02
  • @joeqwerty Because it is a shortcut to a Folder. Basically I want to move a bunch of folders to an external drive, and replace that folder with a shortcut of some kind that acts the same way the folder did, so users don't wonder where all their files went. – Rachel Nov 9 '11 at 17:44
  • @Rachel: OK, I got it. Thanks for the clarification. – joeqwerty Nov 9 '11 at 17:52
  • @netvope Would you be able to provide an example of how I could accomplish? The directories I want to move are actually on a shared network drive belonging to a Windows 2003 machine – Rachel Nov 9 '11 at 18:00
  • 2
    @Rachel According to Microsoft 'Windows does not support junctions to directories on remote shares' – sgmoore Nov 9 '11 at 20:25

In Windows Vista and 7 you can use NTFS symbolic link. Wikipedia states that "the NTFS symbolic link implementation provides full support for cross-filesystem links."

If you're not comfortable using the command line program mklink, you can use Link Shell Extension. After downloading and installing the software, follow the step-by-step guide in "Using Link Shell Extension". Basically you select the folder on the external/remote drive, click "pick link source", go back to the original drive and choose "drop as Symbolic Link".

I have not personally tested this method. Please let me know if my instructions don't work.

  • We have older systems. The network share is on Windows Server 2003 and most of our users are on XP – Rachel Nov 10 '11 at 13:11
  • 1
    Then I'm afraid there is no ready-made solution, unfortunately. Hardlinks can only be made within one NTFS volume. Junctions and volume mount points only work for locally attached volumes. Symbolic links require Windows Vista or above. You could hire someone to build a solution, relax your requirements, or simply get over it :-) – netvope Nov 10 '11 at 20:30
  • Symlinks can be used in XP/2003 with a custom driver that can be downloaded from the Link Shell Extension page. – ivan_pozdeev May 29 '18 at 2:25
  • Besides, a Junction is effectively a symlink, the only difference is it can only point to an absolute path and only to a folder. So it fits your use case – ivan_pozdeev May 29 '18 at 2:28

In Windows 10, Windows 7 Professional, and possibly other versions, you can create 'Folder shortcuts' without any command line work or any external tools. Here is how:

  1. Navigate to "%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu"
  2. In a separate window, open the parent folder of your new shortcut's target-folder (where the shortcut will point to)
  3. Right-click and drag the target-folder into the 'Start Menu' folder.
  4. Click 'Create shortcuts here'.
  5. Move the new shortcut to the desired location.

The shortcut will be sorted with folders, will show up in the navigation pane, and can be pinned to quick access (and the start menu).

However, if you go into the properties of the shortcut, you will not be able to change the target, keyboard shortcut, icon, or any other properties.

Additional Information:

The shortcut will also produce a bizarre path in explorer. For example, if a shortcut to the C:\Users\USER folder is placed in the C:\Users\USER\Documents folder, the following path will be shown when it is opened:


Any further navigations made from that point will show up in the 'clickable path' in explorer, but will not show up in the 'raw-text path'. For example, opening the shortcut, opening 'Documents', then opening the shortcut again, would produce the following paths:

This PC > System (C) > Users > USER > Documents > USER-Shortcut > Documents > USER-Shortcut



After this number of navigations, the main explorer pane will show a normal .lnk shortcut called 'target(.lnk)', which points to the folder-shortcut's target. If this is opened, it will act like any other .lnk file normally would, removing the unusual path.

You can also create shortcuts like this in windows XP Pro, and 2000. The thread I found this on is located at: http://windowssecrets.com/forums/showthread.php/53274-Cool-trick-with-folder-shortcuts-(XP-Pro-2000)
To create the shortcuts in windows XP and 2000, follow the steps I have listed, but drag the shortcut onto the start button instead of the 'Start menu' folder. However, the above thread also mentions that in older versions, deleting the shortcut can delete the folder as well, so be cautious.

  • All this seems to do is create a shortcut within a folder. Yes, that folder can be sorted as usual. But what's the difference from creating a folder and sticking a shortcut in it? – Dave Jun 29 '16 at 18:12
  • @Dave It still seems to be working for me. Can you give any more details (eg. Windows version)? – NotEnoughData Jul 24 '16 at 10:52
  • I'm on Windows 7 Pro – Dave Jul 25 '16 at 20:24
  • 1
    I ran into a similar issue while moving folder shortcuts between drives. Turns out that it needs a ReadOnly (R) attribute in order to be interpreted as a folder shortcut, which apparently gets lost whenever it is copied. Without this attribute, it shows up as a folder with a "target.lnk" file inside. Running the command "attrib +R pathToFolder" will restore the ReadOnly attribute and turn it back into a folder shortcut. However, it can also stop working in certain contexts as well, which unfortunately gives rise to all sorts of inconsistencies. – Stefan T Jan 8 '17 at 21:27
  • Here's link that goes into more detail about what they are and how they work: superuser.com/a/639967 – Stefan T Jan 9 '17 at 18:18

This has driven me crazy as well. Here's the only way I've found:

0) Let's say you've got 10 real folders and 10 shortcuts to folders elsewhere and all 20 are in a parent folder, and you're frustrated because the shortcuts alphabetize at the bottom instead of alphabetizing by name with the real folders.

1) make a dummy folder within the parent folder, named "zzz-real folders", to alphabetize at the bottom.

2) put all the real folders in this new folder

3) within that folder make shortcuts of all these real folders

4) drag the shortcuts out (up a level) to the original parent folder

5) voilà - now you have a list of alphabetized shortcuts that includes everything you wanted, with the dummy folder at the bottom

  • lol I suppose that would work, although it also sounds like a real nightmare to maintain. Still, if it drives me crazy that much I suppose creating a script to do something like that for me would be a nice lazy solution :) – Rachel Jul 24 '14 at 14:12

If this is still a problem for some people I'm a Windows 7 User my simple solution (Sadly I know Windows XP doesn't have this) after seeing the "Add to Network Idea" (As this was taking to long) I decided to Add the Folder to a Library with File Explorer so when I was asked by TSLPatcher for folder I would simply go the Library and then Select the folder.

My Situation
Was installing Old Mods into an Old Game (Star Wars: Kotor2) installed by Steam. Which meant the Mod Installer kept asking me for the folder through a simple Folder Tree Selector (Not the one where I can copy and Paste the Folder) so for every mod I had to navigate through every folder again and again and Steam hides its games deep within its own Folder (Hard Drive> Programs> Steam> Steamapps> Common> Folder)

1. Open Any Folder
2. Look for "Libraries" in a Side Bar to your Left
3. Right-Click on "Liraries" to add Library
4. Open New Library > Click "Include a Folder" > Then Choose Folder by Finding or Copy and Paste Folder Path (Info on how is Below...Instructions are Beginner and Advance Users...cause not everyone knows Rocket Science or is Stupid)

Alt to Step 3 [ALT] Left-Click "Libraries" > Instead of adding a Library just use anyone (If your doing this Temporary) > Click locations link beside "Includes" > Click on "Add" > either Navigate to Directory or Copy & Paste File Path from Address Bar into Bar beside "Folder:"

The Steps I took to get to a Folder without Library - Screenshots
The Steps I didn't take with Library - Screenshots


Use a junction. You can use the Link Shell Extension ( http://schinagl.priv.at ). Best of all, programs won't notice.

  • Can you give me an example of how I would set that up? – Rachel Nov 9 '11 at 19:30
  • Source: Rightclick>pick link source. Destination: Rightclick>create link>junction. – kinokijuf Nov 11 '11 at 13:39

Don't use shortcuts. Instead, use hard links or volume mount points

Edit: The simplest way is to create a mount point for the root folder, but it has a couple of limitations: you MUST redirect a whole folder and you MUST use a complete volume as destination. To do that, create an empty NTFS folder where you will redirect your volume and then open disk manager, select your volume, right-click on it and select "change drive letter and path", remove the drive letter mapping (if any and if you want to) and add the path of the EMPTY NTFS folder.

Hard links are a bit more delicate to use and, upon reflexion, it won't help you on since all links must point to the same volume (which isn't your case).

  • Can you give me an example of how I would create a hard link on Windows XP which would point to a Directory on an external storage unit? – Rachel Nov 9 '11 at 17:04

I was able to do something similar to what you're asking for in Windows XP, but pointing to network locations rather than an external drive, but you may still be able to get it to work. Basically if you go to My Network Places and click the "Add a network place" option and type the path into the wizard it will generate a shortcut that is treated like a folder. I've used this in my workplace when for various reasons I can't assign a drive letter to a network location that my users need to access frequently. I'm sure you've solved your problem by now but hopefully this helps someone else at some point.


Here's what I did in Windows 7 Pro. I created a new folder in Documents with the same or similar name as my shortcut folder, then simply moved the shortcut "file" to my new folder. For example, I wanted all my scans to go someplace where I could find and access them easily. The original path of my scanned files folder was: Owner > My Pictures > CC4 (name of my scanner) > Scan. Here's what I did:

  1. Create a Shortcut of the scanned files folder; I named in "Scans from ..."
  2. Move that Shortcut to "Documents" - of course, this puts the Shortcut Folder down in the files list, not up among the main Folders where I want it and would normally look for it.
  3. I then created a new folder in Documents that I named "SCANS"
  4. I moved my new Shortcut that was listed among my files to the folder called SCANS. Done. Now my shortcut folder called "Scans from ..." is listed in a folder called SCANS that is part of my regular folder hierarchy.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.