How to Work Around the Missing Up Arrow Button in Vista's Windows Explorer

More Efficient Methods to Work in Vista

How to Work Around the Missing Up Arrow Button in Vista's Windows Explorer

If you have upgraded to Windows Vista from an earlier version of Windows, you will have undoubtedly noticed that when you opened up Windows Explorer, or "Computer" as the Explorer is called in the Start menu, that the "Up" arrow button in Explorer which you previously used to go up one folder (or more accurately, one level in your hard disk directory) is no longer available. Before you dash out to get a Windows Explorer replacement, you might want to know that more efficient methods exist in Vista that allow you one-click functionality to even more areas of your hard disk that the parent folder button you used before.

Solution 1: Using the Clickable Folder Path

One not-so-well-known aspect of the Vista's Explorer, at least to newcomers to Vista from earlier Windows versions, is that the folder path displayed near the top of the explorer window is clickable. Not only is it clickable, clicking the different elements of the path will instantly open that folder in the existing window.

For example, in the picture below, the current window shows the contents of the "" folder. (Yes, I have a folder named "".) Clicking the "Vista (C:)" portion of the folder path will cause Explorer to display the root folder of drive C: instead of the folder.

Explorer showing the clickable folder path in Windows Vista

Whereas the "up" arrow in Windows XP and earlier only allowed you to go to the parent folder with one click, the current facility allows you to travel to any of the current folder's ancestors with a single click.

The clickable folder path also has additional useful features. You can click the arrow beside each component of the path to reveal a drop down menu, containing all the folders accessible at that level in the directory. For example, in the picture below, you can click any of the "", "Program Files", "Users" and "Windows" lines in the drop-down menu to be instantly transported to that folder.

Vista explorer showing drop-down menu with all folders at that level

Hence in Vista, you can not only ascend to a folder's parents and grandparents (etc), you can also go into any subfolder of the current folder's direct ancestory.

Solution 2: Using the Keyboard

Windows Vista has also an additional facility not available in earlier versions of Windows explorer. You can also hit the Alt+Up key to go up one level up in your hard disk. That is, hitting the Up arrow key on your keyboard while holding down the "Alt" key will do the same thing as hitting the Up button in the Windows explorer of previous versions.


Vista's explorer provides new features that make traversing the directories on your hard disk more convenient than it was in previous versions of Windows. With a single click, you can go up as many levels of your folder structure as you wish, and in 2 clicks, you can travel to any subdirectory of the current folder's direct ancestory. A new keyboard shortcut has also been introduced for those using the keyboard to navigate the hard disk.

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