Windows XP Tip: Change “Open/Save” Dialogue To Suit Your Workflow

This tutorial will show you how to configure your Windows common open/save dialogue so you can change the five default locations (Recent, Desktop, My Documents, My Computer, My Network Places). These are nice, generic locations, but really…how often do you really use the “Recent” folder?

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If you’re like me, you have your projects in sub-folders located inside one main folder (for me, it’s G:\Projects\). Ideally, I’d like to be able to update the sidebar on the fly with my most recent working folders, but alas Windows doesn’t let you do that. Until it does, we can still get us one step and a few clicks closer to the folders we actuallyuse most.

Note: These instructions involve editing the system registry. If you are not comfortable with doing this, do not proceed. I take no responsibility for any harm you might cause while in there. Remember to always back up before making any system changes.

Configuring the Default Places Bar:

  1. Decide which 5 locations you want located there. For me, it will be Projects and my “pics” directory, replacing “Recent” and “My Network Places”
  2. Open RegEdit: Start->Run (or Win+R) and type “regedit” and press OK.
  3. In the tree on the left, navigate toHKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Policies.
  4. Create a key “comdlg32”: Edit->New->Key
  5. Inside this new key, create another key titled “Placesbar”
  6. Inside Placesbar, you can create the new five items.
    1. Create string values or DWORD values (see substeps 2 and 3 below to decide which) naming them Place0, Place1, Place2, Place3, Place4
    2. Adding a common Windows place: Create a new DWORD Value (Edit->New->DWORD Value) and insert the desired DWORD from this complete list of Shell Constants, Enumerations, and Flags You want to use the hex values (they look like 0x000000, only enter the numbers after the x)
    3. Adding a specific folder or drive: Create a new stringNew->String Value) and enter the desired folder path (“G:\Projects” for a directory, or “G:\” for a drive)
  7. Done. Now you can go to any open/save dialogue to see your work. No restart necessary for this reghack.

While it’s possible to setup network drives this way, I wouldn’t recommend it if the pc is not constantly connected to the network, as it can cause painfully sluggish response time when opening the Open/Save dialogue when you aren’t connected.

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If you decide you want your old default bars back (why??), simply go back into your registry and delete the comdlg32 key you created!

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