How to add a “go up to parent folder” button in explorer for Windows 7 and Vista


If you’ve upgraded to Windows 7 or Vista, you may have noticed that Windows explorer no longer supports a “folder up” button that can take you back up to the parent folder.

Instead, Windows 7 and Vista only has a back button. To travel up the folder path, users have to use the breadcrumb navigation structure, which can be somewhat confusing and is not nearly as simple and straightforward as a simple “up” button.

This posting is going to describe a step by step process to add a simple “up” button to Windows explorer in Windows 7 or Vista using a free program called “ClassicShell”. As its name suggests, this software adds a number of functions inspired by the classic Windows XP shell, including a classic “start” menu. Here, however, I will describe how to install the “up” button only, and excluding any extra functions that the software can provide.

Adding Folder UP arrow to Windows 7 and Vista

Step 1: download the latest version of ClassicShell (works on 32bit and 64 bit OS’s). The version I used at the time of this writing is 1.9.8

Step 2: run the executable to begin the installation. Make sure to uncheck “Classic Start Menu” (unless you in fact want it) but keep “classic explorer” checked.

Classic Shell installation

Step 3: open any folder then press ALT+T on your keyboard to access folder options in Windows 7.

Folder options in Windows 7

Step 4: click on the “view” tab and then check “always show menus” as in the screenshot above. Click “OK”.

View folder options in Windows 7

Step 5: right click in a blank area on the newly visible file menu then check “Classic Explorer Bar”.

Activate Classic Shell Bar

Step 6: click on the now-visible “ClassicShell” icon to access the program settings

Click on the settings icon



Step 7: in the Classic Explorer settings, do the following

  • Check “Show Up button in the title bar”
  • Uncheck “Show caption in the title bar” and “Show icon in the title bar” — unless you want these.
  • Uncheck “Enable classic copy UI” and “Show free space and file size in status bar” — unless you want these.
  • Click “OK”

Check show up button only

Step 8: once you exit out of the settings, go back and uncheck “Classic Explorer Bar” — unless you actually like and want it. (Remember that the object of this post is to only add an “UP folder” button to Windows explorer).

Uncheck Classic explorer

Step 9: now go back to the folder options (ALT+T as in steps 3 and 4 above) and uncheck “always show menus” then click OK. I’m trying to get Windows folders to look exactly as they would by default. Do not uncheck this if you want the file menu to be displayed for whatever reason.

uncheck show menu

Step 10: close the window. Now re-open any window, the “Up Folder” arrow should now be displayed as below.

End result
That’s it. If you have any thoughts or reflections on this please let me know in the comments section..

  • You can also try the keyboard shortcut [ALT + UP arrow key] that has the same function on Windows 7

    • Graham

      Or use Coalde UpFolder ( to get the functionality (but not button) back.

      • joe

        Is this the one with the virus infected file? My AV detected evo-gen infection in this install file.

  • What’s wrong with just clicking on Icons in your example of the address bar? And clicking on Data works faster as clicking up twice.

  • Josh

    This is great! I’ve been looking for a way to do this for ages.

  • Jeanne Bishop

    I’ve downloaded your program, but now I cannot access “my computer.” Also, I cannot open the program (or find it). Can you help?

    • Samer

      @ Bryan: nothing wrong with simply clicking on the breadcrumb trail, especially when you want to climb multiple folders up the folder structure. Thats why Microsoft did away with the “up to parent folder” button in Windows 7/Vista.

      However, many people, including myself, prefer the immediacy of the simply clicking up.

      @ Jeanne: what program did you download? ClassicShell? This program can be accessed via the steps outlined above, and does not have a user interface.

      If you lost your “My Computer” icon on the desktop do the following: Click Start menu button on the bottom left, right click “my computer” (or “computer”), check “display on desktop”.

  • @Bryan Price
    while you are right it is faster clicking on the folder name you want to go, it’s not possible when:

    a) When you make a search and then you open a folder inside the results.
    b) When you open a ftp folder.

    Those are two cases I can think of that constantly make me miss the up button…

  • ARman

    been using Win7 for a while now i didn’t realize how much i missed that button until i got it back with this… thanks

  • Thomas

    Thank you! I’ve wanted this for 2½ years and now I have it! 🙂

  • Good job!

    VERY awesome! Thank you! The back button doesn’t work if you accessed a folder with a shortcut. Also the breadcrumbs thing is annoying when you’re in deep folders with long names. The up button is useful and it was stupid to get rid of it. Add more features, fine, but why get rid of old ones? I don’t see why you’d complain, you don’t have to download this or use it. -.-

  • Blaise Parker

    Thank you! Your site has been so helpful to me over the years.

  • Matthew

    Thank you sooooooooooooo much!!!!!!!!!!!
    I have been searching for ages to get my up button back.
    And as for those idiots who keep on insisting the breadcrumb is sufficient, they really need to get out of their annoying little box. The reason the windows XP explorer window was so successful is because it was customizable. One could CHOOSE (i.e. make a decision for ones self) which buttons to have displayed and not displayed, instead of being told by a bunch of narrow minded idiots that you have to have a regimented and restricted user interface. As MS continues to make their explorer window functionally closer and closer to the IE browser interface, so more and more people continue to change to other browsers like Firefox and Chrome precisely because they are more customisable than IE (the mind boggles as to the MS strategy or lack thereof).
    The fact of the matter is that people think in different ways, for me it is so much easier to use the up button than the bread crumb(it does not distract me from my task at hand). It is a sign or real and genuine ignorance and stupidity to assume that everyone thinks in exactly the same way.
    Given the vast number of complaints about the lack of an UP button in Vista/7 the mind boggles as to why MS continues to be so stubborn about it.

  • Eckart

    Thank you!!
    That’s a realy excellent explanation!!!!

  • cindy

    alt + up arrow does not equal to “up”

  • I love you! Now I can leave Win 7 on my mothers notebook, and not to worry that she can use it! Thank you very much!!!!!!!!!

  • Red

    I can’t get this to work 🙁 Could it have something to do with the fact I’ve got Google toolbar installed?

  • Red

    Duh! I should’ve known better… but in case anyone else follows this all through to the letter and then wonders why their lovely new button has not made a come back, it might be a good idea to add that you may need to reboot your system…..;:-)

  • Broady


    You’re my master!

  • ***TIP/HINT
    If you can’t get this program to work, be sure to enable 3rd party browserextensions in Internet Explorer.

    Explorer.exe and IExplore.exe are still tightly working together even though Micro$oft was told not to do this anymore.

    *sorry if it turned out to be a double post, but lost connection whilst posting and am almost sure the first post didn’t make it through.

  • Jim

    So why can’t Micro$oft just add this button back? At best the bread crumbs are awkward to use. With WinXP, if I wanted to go up three directories, I just clicked the Up-Arrow three times. I didn’t have read a crumb list. And what if the crumb-list is hidden, because the “real” address box is displayed. Then you have to fiddle around to get the crumb-list back. I’ve been using Vista for two years and still want to through the POS out the window. It’s a productivity drain.

  • Harrison Staab

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This button was the first thing I noticed missing when I upgraded and ever since I’ve never gotten used to using “breadcrumbs”. Though I know my way around a PC very well, this was something that made me seething mad every time I went looking for it. It is much faster and simpler to push this button with rapid fingerclicks instead of having to follow the breadcrumbs (who came up with that name..) It just makes sense for this button to be there, even if you can navigate a different way now.

  • Virgil Popescu, ROMANIA

    Thank you very much, that is a real nice “patch” for windows 7 ! I wish you much health and happiness !

  • Rik

    Awesome, I now have no quarks with windows 7 Thank you so much

  • ardi

    Great tool. Thanks so much.
    Mavis is trying to sell one, but I really hate buying software to fix what MS did wrong. (I just made that up–I hate buying software at all!). Many thanks to you and Classisc Shell.

  • Raj

    Hi guys,

    I have a simpler solution and using it since 2 years now.

    Get qttabbar -

    It is an excellent plugin – I was using it with windows xp and at some point I was not upgrading to windows 7 because that plugin was not updated for 7.

    However, another developer has updated it for win 7. Just install it (stable beta 2 available) and along with the tabs in explorer and the additional functionality in windows 7 (thumbnail previews of images on hover, cascaded menu previews of folder, and did i mention tabs in explorer!!), you can go up the folder hierarchy simply by doubleclicking in any folder window. Simple and it becomes intuitive.

    Try it and you will never want to change

  • Ken Mason

    I hate to tell everyone, but the backspace key–and Alt-Arrow keys (see Nelson Rocha’s comment), works just fine. There’s no need to install this app!

    • Samer

      @ Ken: no need to install this app if you prefer to use the keyboard to using a visual interface. If you prefer a visual interface and want the button to be there, then you can do the steps above to get it.

  • Ed

    I would like to install the Up button in Windows 7 without having to install ClassicShell. Just a .reg file with the code to add this function only.

  • Will

    I don’t know if anyone’s still checking this post, but along the same lines… I’m looking to restore the functionality of XP that allowed one to right-click on the back button to go back through a whole list of folder changes one has just followed… it’s awkward to even describe this function, so it’s almost impossible to Google for an answer, but this is a function I use many times a day and I can’t believe M$ ditched it . Does anyone know how to get it back?

  • Clint Johnson

    You can also click on the address bar and append “\..” to the folder path, then hit “enter” to take you up one folder level.

  • Dan

    @ Will – you can left click the drop down arrow to the right of the forward and back buttons to go to where you been recently. This should be there in both vista and windows 7.

  • Gerry

    I use free Strokeit program to help me navigate various programs using mouse gestures and by default it will ‘go back’ and ‘go forward’ in Explorer with a ‘right click move left’ gesture (and move right of course to go forward). I recommend it.

  • Wow this is GREAT. SO happy I found it. FINALLY!!!

  • bartman2589

    @Ken Mason: Next time you reply try pulling your head out of your ass before you do, the point of this post was to give users an ALTERNATIVE to having to use and try to remember yet more keyboard shortcuts, not everyone likes having to try to remember multitudes of keyboard shortcuts for each and every single application they use, after all what’s the point of having a mouse responsive GUI if you have to do everything with keyboard shortcuts??

  • Dave

    @ Ken – also they functions you describe are the same as the ‘back’ button not the ‘up’ button

  • Ian

    The so-called “Breadcrumb” method doesn’t work if you search for a file then right click “open in a new window” from the search results. There is no open file structure in the left panel then.

    And besides, it’s ten times easier to just click UP than pick from a list of potentially dozens or more choices in a panel.

    I really hate not haven’t customizable buttons on the toolbar, and I really miss that UP button, and the cut and delete buttons – yeah yeah, got them on right click, but it was my habit on XP to use the toolbar – and I had XP set up the way I liked it – then MS went and stripped away users’ choice.

    MS probably hired curtain designers or some-such to have final say on the interface, whose florally-influenced minds want pretty rather than functional/useful.

    What were they thinking? – “Oh no, we can’t have those buttons. They totally distract from the aesthetics we’re seeking.”

    I totally agree with Mathew’s post above.

    I really hate win7 – I have installed so many many fixes for it that they’re starting to take up more room than the win7 updates.

  • Kyle


    I was so pissed off when they took out that feature, you are a life saver. I loved it how you kept it going and once the button was shown, explained how to disable the new toolbar. I make it a mission in life to keep my IE and Folders as clean as humanly possible, seams like everyone want you to add useless crap on to your toolbars and when im helping family fix something on their computer its terrible. Now that I have my favorite button back my life will be a lot easier.

    If you know any other tricks like this that I would like id appreciate it if you emailed me any links.

  • Betty

    Fantastic! I installed only the Classic Explorer and it works beautifully. I opened my folder and the icons were there on the menu bar. I like the Up Button there instead of in the title bar anyway, so I just centered the icons, deleted the email icon, and it’s fine. What a relief to get this back! Thank you.

  • Dingo

    I added the big blue up arrow but when I clicked on it the chair I was sitting in ejected me through the roof. I saw stars. Does Windows provide a patch for my roof?

  • Thanks a lot for these tips.I’m looking for looong time ago to find something like that.You saved me ha ha ha!

  • Thanks a lot for these tips.I’m looking for looong time ago to find something like that.You saved me ha ha ha!

  • Karen

    I was upset over losing the back button too and agree using the short cut key’s are not as easy as clicking on an “up one level” button. However Clint’s suggestion is perfect for me or “good enough”. It utilizes the mouse and not the keyboard and is just a quick click. You simply go up to address bar and click on the appropriate level. Very easy. Thanks Cint!

    His comment below:
    Clint Johnson June 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Permalink
    You can also click on the address bar and append “\..” to the folder path, then hit “enter” to take you up one folder level.

  • Interesting posts and awesome blog!I will be happy to visit it again!

  • Functionality Lover

    Works great, just what I wanted. Here here to all my fellow up button lovers.

    Now how do I get rid of the forward and back buttons………………………..?????????

  • Bianca

    Lovely. Thank you very much.

  • itay

    It seems that the functionality is a little different from xp. When I’m in folder “C:\users\myName\donwloads” for example and click “Up botton”, I go up to “myName” but then after another upping, I get to Desktop, instead of “C:\users”.
    Is there a way to change this?

  • Flek

    NIce Simple and elegant

    Thank You


  • Nick

    A year ago I installed ClassicShell – not only for the back arrows but also for some of the menu bar buttons, which I found helpful.
    Now, recently after installing other apps those buttons disappeared but the arrows are still there and work fine.
    I decided to UNINSTALL ClassicShell and lo and behold the arrows are still there!
    That means the ClassicShell originaly triggered some setting in Vista (Home basic) which stayed on even after unistalling it.
    The question is why such a application weighs 8.5 mb just to turn on a switch …?

  • turamis

    thanx , the software has a lot changed but still works

  • skumar

    Thanks it worked

  • Irma

    It’s pretty redundant.

  • Keto

    thank you

  • kkkk

    useless, still no go up 1 level folder

  • fabio

    Will the up button disrepair if I delete the program