How to Move the User Shell Folders in Windows Vista and Windows 7

Windows lets you relocate your user (shell) folders such as Documents, Music and Pictures folder to a different drive or folder location, via the Location tab in folder properties. Here are the ways you can move the special folders folders in Windows.

Moving the Special folders Using Location tab

First, create the destination folder.

Click the Start button, right-click the special folder (Documents, Music, or Pictures) and choose Properties.

In the Location tab, click Move and select the target folder. Click Apply.

move special folders in windows

Click Yes when you’re prompted to move the files to new location, and click OK.

move special folders in windows

The folder is now moved to the new location.

Moving the Special folders Using Registry Editor

To accomplish this using Registry editor, create the destination folder where you want to relocate the shell folder, and then follow these steps:

Click Start, Run and type Regedit.exe

For per-user special folders for your user account, navigate to the following location:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

For per-system special folders, navigate to the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

Double-click the corresponding shell folder name

Change the Value data accordingly, pointing to the new location

Exit the Registry Editor

Default shell folder paths

Per-User special folders

Value name (Special folder)

Value data
Cache%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files
Local AppData%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local
My Pictures%USERPROFILE%\Pictures
My Video%USERPROFILE%\Videos
Nethood%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts
PrintHood%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Printer Shortcuts
Programs%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
Start Menu%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
Startup%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

Per-System special folders

Value name (Special folder)

Value data
Common AppData%ProgramData%
Common Desktop%PUBLIC%\Desktop
Common Documents%PUBLIC%\Documents
Common Programs%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
Common Start Menu%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
Common Startup%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
Common Templates%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Templates

Note: The above post was primarily written for Windows Vista and Windows 7. There are additional shell folder locations in Windows 8 and Windows 10, for which you can refer article Windows 10 User Shell Folders Restore Default Paths.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.