Microsoft added a new feature to the most recent preview version of its Windows 10 operating system that resolves one of the longest standing issues that users experienced when using Windows: the 260 character limit.
The system that Windows uses by default has a limit of 260 characters which led to all kinds of issues including the inability to run operations on files stored under paths exceeding the limit, issues with the extraction of files, and issues with transferring files from systems that have no such limit.
Up until now all you could do was reduce the path to regain access to files, or use programs such as Long Path Fixer to resolve issues that you are experiencing.
The latest Windows 10 Insider Preview ships with a new policy that does away with the 260 character limit, at least somewhat.
Its description reads:
Enabling NTFS long paths will allow manifested win32 applications and Windows Store applications to access paths beyond the normal 260 char limit per node. Enabling this setting will cause the long paths to be accessible within the process.
The caveat here is the term "manifested win32 applications". While most win32 applications since the days of Windows Vista are manifested, it is usually the case that the applications need to declare capabilities explicitly.
It seems likely that applications need to explicitly declare support for the feature before they can make use of it.
A quick test on a system after enabling the feature seems to confirm this. Still, getting that option is a step in the right direction especially if Microsoft implements support for it in File Explorer and other core Windows applications that could benefit from it.
How to enable support for long paths using the Group Policy Editor
Please note that the feature is currently only available as part of the latest Fast Ring Windows 10 Insider Build.
It seems likely that Microsoft will make it available with the Anniversary Update that it plans to release this Summer.
Using the Registry instead
You can enable the policy in the Registry directly as well.
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