In Windows 7, when a user uses mouse to double click or press Enter key to open, explorer or drill down on a drive or folder, the folder trree on the navigation pane of Windows Explorer does not automatically expand the navigation pane’s tree to show and display current folder or directory user is at. In other words, Windows 7 Explorer’s navigation pane will stay at top level of a drive or folder, and does not expand the sub-folders branches, unless user manually expand the folder tree.

The behavior of Windows 7 Explorer is a total change from Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2008 or earlier Windows operating system, where the Windows Explorer’s navigation pane will always automatically expand the folder tree to show the deepest or lowest level of folders been opened or arrived at.

Windows 7 actually does possess such ability to automatically expand navigation pane of Windows Explorer to current folder, but it’s turned off and disabled by default. For users who prefer that the navigation pane expands to follow their path into nested folders, the trick is indeed easy.

How to Make Windows Explorer Automatically Expand Navigation Pane to Current Folder in Windows 7

  1. Open Windows Explorer.
  2. Click on Organize pull down menu.
  3. Click on Folder and search options.
  4. Under the “Navigation pane” section, select and tick the check box for Automatically expend to current folder option.

    Automatically Expand Windows 7 Navigation Pane to Current Folder

  5. Click OK.

With the setting enabled, the navigation pane of Windows 7 Explorer will automatically expand when user goes to sub-folder.

Check out also more than 30 Windows 7 hacks, tips and tricks.