The Windows Explorer Favorites are an unknown and under-appreciated feature, even though they can help in boosting productivity. Therefore, I would like to show how Favorites work, how they can help you and how to manage them: add, remove, customize existing favorites.
What are the Windows Explorer Favorites?
The favorites are a series of shortcuts that appear in the left-side navigation panel of Windows Explorer, in the section called Favorites. They are always found at the top of the window and can be easily accessed when working with Windows Explorer or when making file management operations in other applications (e.g. the save dialogue when downloading a file with your Internet browser).
The default shortcuts included as Favorites are: Desktop, Downloads, Recent Places and any other shortcuts created by installed applications (e.g. Dropbox) or manually created by users.
In the Favorites section you can add shortcuts only to folders, libraries and drives on your computer. You cannot add shortcuts towards programs or files, for example. If you try to do this, you receive a message saying: "Cannot place in Favorites".
How to Create New Favorites in Windows Explorer
Adding new shortcuts in the Favorites section can be done in multiple ways. One way is to open Windows Explorer and browse to the folder, library or drive you want added. Then, select it with the mouse and drag it to the Favorites section. When you see a message saying "Create link in Favorites", release the mouse and the shortcut is added.
Another way is to browse to the location you want added, then scroll up to the Favorites section (without making clicks on other locations) and right click on it. A contextual menu shows up, similar to the one shown below. Click on "Add current location to Favorites" and you are done.
A third way is to Create a shortcut to the location you want to have in your Favorites and then move the shortcut to the Favorites section.
How to Manage Favorites in Windows Explorer
You can customize your list of Favorites in several ways. First, you can change the order in which you want to view the shortcuts included. On the left-side navigation bar, simply drag and drop the shortcuts in the order you want. When doing this you see a message saying "Move here". If that’s the position you want a shortcut to be in, release the left mouse button and it gets moved.
You can also customize the icon of each shortcut. This is explained in one of our previous tutorials: How To Change the Icon of a Shortcut.
Removing shortcuts is done with ease. Simply right click on the shortcut you want deleted and select Remove.
Another way is to select the shortcut with the mouse and press Delete on your keyboard.
You can also rename shortcuts, just like you would with any other shortcut: right click, select Rename, type the new name and press Enter on your keyboard.
How to Restore the Default Favorites
If you you want the favorites as they initially were, you can do this. First navigate to the Favorites section in Windows Explorer. Right click somewhere in the empty space available and, from the right-click menu, select "Restore favorite links".
This restores any of the default shortcuts you deleted and the shortcuts created by any of your installed applications. The shortcuts you manually created remain as they are. If you want them gone, you have to manually delete each shortcut.
As you can see, working with Favorites in Windows Explorer can really enhance your productivity and allow easy access to folders, libraries or drives. Some people might even prefer using Favorites to using libraries. If you have any questions on this topic, don’t hesitate to use the comments form below.