How to Browse and Open Folders and Files with Google Chrome

Posted by Matthew on November 21, 2018

All Google Chrome users know that you can use it to browse website pages. But not many know that you can also use it to browse folders and files stored locally. In fact, to open basic text and image files in Chrome, you don’t need any extensions or plugins.

You can open a file stored on your local hard drive in Chrome using several different methods:

  • Drag and drop the file from its folder into Chrome. Wait until you see a green plus sign prior to releasing the file.
  • Press Ctrl+O (Cmd+O on Mac) and double-click the appropriate file.
  • Type “file:///” in the address bar and press enter. This will open a window called “Index of /”, which is an index of all of the files on your computer. From there, you can browse through the folders on your hard drive, much the same as you can in File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac).

Using this file browser, you can open basic text files, PDFs and images in Google Chrome. Click a file in one of those formats to open them in a Chrome tab, as shown below.

chrome index4

Open Any Local File from Chrome

The problem, though, is that using the methods listed above only allow you to open a limited range of file formats. Audio files, for example, cannot be opened using this method. Local Explorer is a Chrome extension that enables you to open any file from the “Index of \” tab in Chrome in its default software package.

Click here to open the Local Explorer extension page in the Chrome Web Store. To install Local Explorer, click “Add to Chrome” in the upper right corner. On the popup, click “Add extension.”

Once it has been installed, right-click the Local Explorer button on the toolbar and select “Options” to open Local Explorer Settings. Clicking “Install now…” will download the Integration Module as a zip folder. Double-click the zip folder to decompress it, then open the Integration Module setup from the unzipped folder.

chrome index2

Next, type “chrome://extensions” into the address bar and hit enter. Scroll down to the Local Explorer – File Manager, and click “Details”. Then, toggle the “Allow access to file URLs” button.

Now when you click to open a file in the “Index of \” tab, the External Protocol Request window below will open. Press the Launch Application button to open the file in its default software package.

chrome index3

Clicking folders in the “Index of \” tab will also open them in File Explorer, so long as you have selected “Use Local Explorer to open folders.” Right-click the extension’s button and click “Options” to select that option. If it isn’t selected, click its check box and press the “Save Settings” button. Then click a folder in Chrome’s file browser and press the “Launch Application” button as before to open it in File Explorer.

You can now open any file or folder directly from Google Chrome using Local Explorer. You’ll never need to open File Explorer as you can open all files with Chrome. The extension considerably enhances Chrome’s file browser.

However, note that this does not work on Chromebooks, or any machines running a Linux-based OS. In addition, the reason this feature is not built-in to Chrome is for security reasons. Be careful when opening files if you are not sure of their origination, and proceed at your own risk.

One thought on “How to Browse and Open Folders and Files with Google Chrome”

Roberto says:
The extension LocalExplorer is awesome, but what about security? I´m afraid that a malicious website could easily include this kind of links to launch executables in my computer. I came to this question when looking if the LocalExplorer extension would accept params (useful to launch a createfolder.bat script including the name of the folder to create).
Robert says:
security is the right question. did you ever get a good answer to this? I know that the local file extension (not local explorer) responds only to clicks and has some resource protection but i dont see those remarks respective to the Local Explorer extension. Anybody?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.