Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How do I get Windows Explorer to show folder names in its taskbar buttons?

I just got a new computer.

On the old one, the taskbar shows open folders correctly: “Folder
Name”. It makes it easy to see which one you want to click on to get
the desired folder up front.

On the new computer, the tab on the taskbar shows the folder name as
“C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Desktop\Folder Name” — and since
all that doesn’t FIT on the little tab, they ALL read “C:\Docume…”,
which means they’re quite useless labels. How do I get it to just show
the end folder name?

It’s actually another of Windows buried and somewhat obscure
settings.

In fact, I didn’t even connect what this setting was for until I got
this question.

]]>

What this question is about is the difference between:

Windows Taskbar showing Windows Explorer open on a folder

and:

Windows Taskbar showing Windows Explorer open on a folder

Both of these are Windows Explorer open on the same folder: “C:\Documents and Settings\LeoN\My Documents\My Music”. The difference is in how Windows Explorer deals with the fact that the full path name is much too long to fit in the taskbar icon.

This brings us to our first point of clarification: Windows Explorer doesn’t know or care about the taskbar or its icon thereon. In fact, most programs don’t. The task bar simply uses an application’s window title as the text to place in the button.

What Windows Explorer does care about then is its Window Title:

Windows Explorer title, with only the folder name

and:

Windows Explorer title, with full path

Knowing that what we’re really changing is the window title, all of a sudden one of Windows Explorer’s buried options becomes much, much clearer.

In Windows Explorer:

  • Click on the Tools menu

  • Click on the Folder Options… menu item

  • Click on the View tab

  • In the Advanced settings: list

  • Look for the setting Display the full path in the title bar

Windows Explorer options, highlighting the display full paht in title bar

Check that, and you’ll get the full path in the title bar, and in my examples, the truncated “C:/Document…” in the task bar button. UNcheck it and you’ll get the folder name.

I also suggest that while you’re in those settings you also click on Apply to All Folders to make your preference permanent.

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Tech problem solving & safety tips & a weekly confidence boost in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

Slow Computer?

Speed up with my special report: 10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow, now updated for Windows 10.

NOW: name your own price! You decide how much to pay -- and yes, that means you can get this report completely free if you so choose. Get your copy now!

4 comments on “How do I get Windows Explorer to show folder names in its taskbar buttons?”

  1. When I click on Tools in Internet Explorer, there is no Folder Options menu item. However, when I go into Control Panel, the Folder Options menu item is there.

    Reply
  2. You need to open an Explorer window and not an Internet Explorer window. Basically, open My Computer. From here, follow Leo’s directions and all should be well for you Linda.

    Reply
  3. thank you for your post….was very helpful…but i was wondering whether it is posible to shift the name of the folder into the middle of the title bar so that it looks like mac explorer.,,reply me plsssss

    Not that I’m aware of, no.

    Leo
    14-Aug-2010

    Reply
  4. This setting does work for me but the full path length in the title bar is being truncated to somewhere around 90 characters. Can you tell me if there is a setting in the registry that will allow me to set the maximum path length that will be shown in a Windows XP title bar so a deeper path will be displayed fully without being truncated?

    thx!

    Reply

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.