Troubleshooting: File Path Limits in Windows

Windows File Names

Windows gives users 255 characters for a file name. However, the file name doesn’t just include the title you give your folder or file, it includes each subdirectory along the path and the filename!
Example of a Windows File path: C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Desktop\folder1\folder2\file.docx
In some cases you may encounter errors related to over-sized file names
Example errors:
Destination Path Too Long Occurs when moving files into a new folder where the new path length would be greater than the Windows character limit Screen shot of Destination Path Windows Error
File Name Too Long Occurs when a new file name would result in the file path being greater than the Windows character limit  Screen shot of file name Windows Error
Source Path Too Long Occurs when you attempt to import files which would result in a file path that is greater than the Windows character limit  Screen shot of source path Windows error

Issues from Related to Over-sized File Names

You’ll get a Windows error message like the ones above.
In some cases, you won’t get the Windows error. Instead you’ll get a message that just says “Cannot Copy”.
In some cases, your files simply won’t open or might cause errors when opening or closing.
Another issue is that the file context menu(right click) won’t have as many options as other folders with acceptable file paths.

How do you fix it?

Shorten folder names or your file name!
Consider your use of folder layers – eliminating a folder layer entirely would save characters!
Be cognizant about where your saving files. You might think saving on the Desktop will save space but the actual file path to the desktop will be C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Desktop or C:\Users\%username%\Desktop depending on your version of Windows.


Suresh, V. (2013, August 08). How to fix ‘file path too long’ error while copying, deleting or opening files, without using third party applications. Retrieved from vimalsuresh website:

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