Displaying the Full UNC Path of a Sub-Directory in Windows 7

02-Feb-2011 Update: Scroll to the bottom of this message to see the answer I got.

My work laptop was just upgraded and I’m now running Windows 7.  One of the things I do is paste links to sub-directories on our shared network drives.  I prefer sending links to a file stored on a shared drive rather than sending the file itself, particularly when the file is large.

I can get Windows Explorer to display a full path by clicking to the right of the bread crumbs path near the top of the Windows Explorer screen.  Windows Explorer looks like this when you first open it and navigate to a drive:

When you click in the blank space to the right of this display – to the right of Personal in the example above, the display changes to show the path, like this:

I realize this example is using the C: drive, but if it were a mapped network drive, it would still just show the drive letter.  How can I get it to display the UNC path?  For example, if I mapped H: to \\ENG01\Team\Alpha and navigated in Windows Explorer to H:\Production\Engineering, how can I get that display to show \\ENG01\Team\Alpha\Production\Engineering?

It doesn’t have to be in Windows Explorer, but I’d like a solution that lets me display the UNC path to a sub-directory on a shared drive and copy it so I can paste it into links I send out by email.

I posted this questions in a Windows 7 forum on the Microsoft site as well.  Any tips or suggestions would be most appreciated.

02-Feb-2011 Update: Someone named Shawn Keene provide a solution to this in the Windows 7 Forum on the Microsoft website.  It is in a feature called Network Place.

  1. Open Windows Explorer.
  2. Right-click on the Computer entry in the left pane and select “Add a network location”.  Click next.
  3. Select the “Choose a custom network location” option (it was the only one presented to me) and click Next.
  4. Type in the UNC path desired and click Next twice.

This adds an entry that shows up in left pane of Windows Explorer below the mapped drives, but it works just like a mapped drive and shows up that way in the Save dialog of applications.  In Windows Explorer, navigate through that entry to the desired sub-directory and click in the blank area to the right of the bread crumbs path display in the top of the Windows Explorer screen and the UNC path appears and is highlighted.  WOO-HOO!  Thank you, Shawn!

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I have Windows7 too, I really like it much better than XP.

I’m thinking that you’d have to browse to it through the ‘Network Neighborhood’ or whatever it’s called in Windows7 (I’m at home on XP now) to get the UNC path, but maybe there’s a way.

BTW – My wife gave me something on ‘God Mode’ in Win7. It’s evidently a way to access all, or nearly all, of the control panel settings in one list. I keep forgetting to implement it. There’s a CNET article on it here.

I remember reading about Windows 7 GodMode and that it wasn’t anything all that special – if I recall, you could name that folder anything you wanted to and it would work the same.

In Windows XP, I had a Windows Explorer link set up to most of my mapped drives with the UNC address specified. It would display the UNC address in the Windows Explorer window where I could copy it. Doing that same thing in Windows 7 still shows the mapped drive letter, not the UNC path.

A Microsoft Answers tech replied to my question and said there was no way to do this in Windows without third party applications. They did point me to a search that turned up a possible third-party application that works well on Windows Vista. I’ve got a question into IT support at work to see if I can install it on my work laptop.

We’ll see.

I got an answer, Douglas. See the updated post. Thanks for commenting.

But what if you are trying to find out the UNC path that was mapped by someone else?

Hello, Dave. I’m not sure what you mean by a path that was mapped by someone else. Can you elaborate, please?

This may not be a method you will like, but you can issue the “net use” command in command promt to get the unc path of the mapped drive. Copy that, then copy the directory structure under the mapped drive from Windows explorer.

This is a in ways a workaround rather than a solution. Ideally I’d like to keep my network locations as drives accessible by typing eg. q:\ and copy the path from those.

Within Windows 7’s Windows Explorer path crumb displayed at the top of the menu, just right mouse click within its drop down menu and select one of the Menu choise – Copy Address; Copy Address as Text; Edit Address; Delete History – select Copy Address as Text, for example, then, paste to your e-mail. The UNC path is pasted. It would be the same if you select Copy Address.

Thanks for your comment, Polly. I just mapped a network location to a drive letter and when I right-click and select Copy Address as Text, it pastes with the drive letter path (like Z:\Files\Gary\Fun Stuff), not the UNC path (like \\Homeserver\Storage\Files\Gary\Fun Stuff). If I do that on a Network Place share, it does copy with the UNC path.

Someone at work had a utility pushed to our PCs that lets you right-click on a file and copy the file path – including the file name – with the UNC path. It is a pretty slick utility, but I don’t yet know what it is.

You can right click the mapped drive in the left Nav and select copy path to clipboard that will give you the UNC path to the share but not to your folder so to get that just copy the path from the address bar and remove the drive letter and paste it to the end of the UNC path. There is a key combo that I got to work at one point awhile ago but for the life of me I cannot remember it. I am surprised that MS doesn’t fix this with an update.

oops i forgot to say hold the Ctrl key down while right clicking

[…] named Shawn Keene provided a solution to this in the Windows 7 Forum on the Microsoft website. It is in a feature called Network […]

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