Documentation » Using WinSCP » Basic Tasks »


You can navigate with WinSCP in several ways, both with mouse and keyboard. Choose the one you prefer.


File Panel

In file panel you can enter the subdirectory of current directory by double-clicking the subdirectory icon (or by pressing Enter). If a same way you can “enter” symbolic link pointing to directory. When resolving of symbolic links is disabled for the current session, WinSCP lets you to try to “enter” any file, just in case it is symbolic link.

With Commander interface you can enter the parent directory using the parent directory icon (always the first item in the file list, with caption ..).

Directory Tree

Using the directory tree you can enter any directory visible on the tree just by clicking on its icon.


You can bookmark your favorite directories using the command Commands > Add Path to Bookmarks in Explorer interface or Local/Remote/Left/Right > Add Path to Bookmarks in Commander interface. Or use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+B.

When bookmarking directory, you can select between two bookmark lists, session bookmarks and shared bookmarks. The first is specific to current session. The latter is shared among all sessions.

To retrieve and manage bookmarks use the Open directory dialog (or Location Profiles dialog, see below). Go to View > Go To > Open Directory/Bookmark in Explorer interface or Local/Remote/Left/Right > Go To > Open Directory/Bookmark in Commander interface or find the respective icon on a toolbar or use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+O. You can also use a drop-down menu of the Open directory/bookmark button on the toolbar to open a bookmark.

You can select between two bookmark modes. “Bookmark” mode is available for both interfaces. It is just a list of bookmarked paths separated for remote and local panels (local bookmarks are available for the Commander interface only). The “Location Profiles” mode is available for Commander interface with connected session tab only. It is a list of named profiles consisting of both local and remote directories. The profiles can be hierarchically organized into folders.


Entering a Path Manually

Using the Open directory dialog, you can open the desired directory by entering its path. Go to View > Go To > Open Directory/Bookmark in the Explorer interface, or Local/Remote/Left/Right > Go To > Open Directory/Bookmark in the Commander interface, or find the respective icon on a toolbar, or use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+O.

In Explorer interface, you can also enter the path directly to the address bar.

Use this method to navigate to a network (UNC) path that is not mapped to a drive letter.

Opening a Path Stored in Clipboard

If the clipboard contains a file path, the Files > Paste command opens the path stored in the clipboard in the current file panel.

Special Commands

In the main menu (View > Go To in Explorer interface or Local/Remote/Left/Right > Go To in Commander interface) and on the toolbars you can find a set of special commands that can help you with navigation:

  • Parent directory – To go one level up in the directory structure
  • Root directory – To go to the top level directory.
  • Home directory – To open the home directory. For the remote panel the home directory is by default your user directory on the server, and for local panel it is your documents directory. You can override this by setting initial session directories and using preference option Default directory is home directory.
  • Back/Forward – To navigate back/forward in directory history (the same as in Windows File Explorer and similar to Back/Forward buttons in a web browser).
  • Path from other panel – On a local tab, to navigate to the same path that is opened in the opposite panel.

Synchronized Browsing

When you change your directory in one file panel and this feature is turned on, WinSCP automatically opens the same directory in an opposite panel. For example, if you change the directory in remote panel from /home/mprikryl/public_html to /home/mprikryl/public_html/wiki and the directory D:\documents\www is opened in the local panel, WinSCP will automatically open the local directory D:\documents\www\wiki for you. If a corresponding directory in the opposite panel does not exist, you will be given an option to create it.

This function is available in the Commander interface only. To turn it on go to Commands > Synchronize Browsing. State of the synchronized browsing is saved per-site. You can also enable synchronized browsing for the site on Directories page of Advanced Site Settings dialog.

You can find this useful together with the function Compare directories for manual synchronization.

Keyboard Shortcuts

While most of the keyboard shortcuts are the same in both interfaces, there are a few differences:


Special Devices

WinSCP can respond to the navigation features of some input devices including:

  • Back/Forward buttons on some mice (Microsoft Intellipoint particularly).
  • Back, Forward, Reload, Home and Favorite buttons on multimedia-keyboards.

Last modified: by martin