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Windows 7 - How to Use the Classic-Style Navigation Pane in Explorer

For many, the Explorer has changed for the better in Windows 7. For others, the changes are unwelcome and some people find that the new navigation pane in Explorer is not as efficient as it used to be. Windows 7 introduced many changes and additions such as file type libraries and the HomeGroup networking feature. These and other things such as connected storage devices and favourites are displayed by default in the Explorer navigation pane. Fortunately, it is easy to revert back to the classic style used in Windows Vista and earlier. By following this guide, you'll be able to view the folder structure, control panel, network icon and recycle bin in the navigation pane, just as you were able to in Windows Vista.

To customize the way that Windows Explorer works, click on the "Organize" button on the left of the menu bar and choose "Folder and search options." In the "General" tab, you'll see a section containing options for the navigation pane. Check the boxes beside "Show all folders" and "Automatically expand to current folder." Click "OK" to save your changes.

The Explorer navigation pane now looks similar to the one used in previous versions of Windows although you will still see your libraries and other things specific to Windows 7. If you want to further customize the navigation pane and remove some of these features, you will need to use the small third-party utility called "Windows 7 Navigation Pane Customizer" from

Download the program. It does not need to be installed since it's a portable application. You'll need to run the program using administrator privileges. If you can't start the program just by double-clicking on it, right-click on the icon and choose "Run as administrator." Click "Yes" if a User Account Control window appears and enter your user account password if requested to.

When you run the program, you'll see a list of options that you can add or remove from the customized navigation pane. Simply check the boxes for the features that you want to display and click "Apply Settings." You can always restore the settings to default at any time by starting the program up and clicking "Restore Settings." Close the program when you're done. Your changes should take effect immediately upon restarting the explorer window.

Windows 7 Navigation Pane Customizer works by modifying certain hidden settings in the registry which cannot easily be done manually. Because all the program does is modify certain settings, it does not need to be left running. In fact, you can even remove it from your computer if you wish.


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