How to find a path to a file or folder and copy it

A path to a folder directory or a  file name is a string of folder names where a particular file is located. For example the true path to my pictures is C:Documents and SettingsYour user nameMy DocumentsMy Pictures.  Windows has a shortcut to it in your start menu however it is not always that easy to get to other files and folders. This tutorial applies to Windows XP, however if you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 please see this article on how to find a folder path.

In Windows XP we can automatically see the path to a file or folder directory when we visit it. It is shown in the address bar at the top of the dialogue box. If you want to locate the file path of documents and images on your computer then all you need to do is browse through your computer and go to the files location.

What is a directory and what is a folder?

I need to explain a few things before we go any further. Some people might call a folder “a directory” which is also correct. Back in the day before Windows was invented we did not really have folders representing our directories. It was called a directory back in the days when there was no Windows. Then it became a folder directory because Windows used a folder icon to represent each directory. It is amazing how the first version of Windows 3.1 was basically just a screen full of folders.

Therefore it is okay to call a folder a directory or even a directory folder.

What is the difference between a folder path and a file path?

A folder or directory folder is a container that you store the files in. Files are anything from picture files to word documents. The path to a folder is the address where the folder is kept on your computer. This applies full files as well. The path to a file is the address where it is kept on the computer.

How to find a path to a file?

When you are viewing a folder in a Windows Explorer window it displays an address bar containing the path to the folder.

  1. To get to Windows Explorer press the Windows key on your keyboard and the E key at the same time.
  2. Where ever you go, the path will be listed in the address bar at the top.
  3. If you double click on c: drive, then Documents and Settings, then your username, then Favorites, then music,  the path in the address bar will look like this C:Documents and SettingsMitzFavoritesMusic

Find a file or directory folder path

How to copy a file path or folder path.

  1. When you have located the path to your file or folder, select it and make it blue.
  2. Then press the right mouse button while hovering over the blue area.
  3. A menu will appear
  4. Choose copy from the menu. Now you can paste it where ever you like. If you just want to store this path you can paste it onto a notepad. To paste on a notepad, right click in the blank space and choose paste.

folder path in Windows xp

In The example above I have navigated to the files that are contained in a hidden folder. To see hidden folders and files you need to show hidden files in Windows.

If you want to locate the file path of documents and images on your computer then these files are not hidden and you will not need to show hidden files.

Why would you need to know the path to a file or folder?

  • Knowing where everything is kept can help when you need to backup files on your computer.
  • It is great for saving your internet favorites folder. When you transfer it to a new computer you can simply paste the folder to its new location.


  • The best way to learn how your computers are set up is to browse around. Explore your folder system and see what files are stored inside them.
  • Some directory folders are hidden. Here’s how to show hidden files.
  • You might also be interested in reading what is a file extension.

What file or directory folder path did you need to find and how did you do it?


  1. Samuel Mazzuchelli says

    Brilliant. You learn something new every day. The directory icon on my work desktop disappeared. Waiting for the tech guy, this solution is nearly as quick. Thanks!