Updated: 07/31/2022 by Computer Hope
Illustration of a directory with several subdirectories.

In a computer file system, a subdirectory is a directory that is contained another directory, called a parent directory. A parent directory may have multiple subdirectories.

In operating systems with a GUI (graphical user interface) such as Microsoft Windows, a directory is called a folder, and a subdirectory is called a subfolder.


Every directory except for the top-level root directory is a subdirectory of at least one directory. The list of parent directories of a directory or file is called its path.

In Windows

The following is an example of a file's path, including its parent directories, in Microsoft Windows.

Windows command line path

In Linux

In the following example path in a Linux operating system, public_html is a subdirectory of computerhope, which is a subdirectory of c, etc. The special root folder / is the only directory that is not a subdirectory, because it has no parent directory.



Like a subdirectory, a subfolder is any folder that is a child of another folder. In the example below, Fonts and System32 are subfolders of the Windows folder.

-Windows Folder Windows
+--System32 Folder System32
+--Fonts Folder Fonts

How do I create a subdirectory or subfolder?

You can create a subfolder from Microsoft Windows or another GUI by opening the folder containing the subfolder and creating a new folder. For example, if you had a folder called "Games" and you wanted to create a subfolder named "Doom" in the Games folder, move into the Games folder and then create a new folder called "Doom."

To create a subdirectory from a command line, change to the directory that will be holding the subdirectory and create a new one (similar to above example). Alternatively, you could create a subdirectory in another directory using the full path. For example, using the Windows command line mkdir command, you could create the subdirectory "doom" in the "games" directory by typing "mkdir games\doom" at the command line.

Operating system terms, Parent, Recurse subdirectories