The Information Worker

September 14, 2009

Setting my Desktop location with Windows 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — adamclark @ 4:18 pm

Having used Windows 7 during its RC Cycle and now using Windows 7 with its full release, I have come across what I believe is a side effect new cool functionality. Let me set the scene…

I like most IT people love to store content everywhere (this is bad being a SharePoint guy, I should know better, however…) I store content in my documents folder, my SharePoint sites, on USB drives and of course on my desktop. Also being in the IT industry I rebuild my laptop on average every six months due to a new product or something I have tried that didn’t work quite right J. To counter this proliferation of files I make a habit of changing the default location for my files (Documents, Pictures, Desktop) etc to something other than my OS drive. This way if something happens to my drive unexpected I have all my files up to date without having to rely on last Friday’s backups. In Windows Vista this could be done by right clicking on the documents or desktop folder and changing the default location to wherever you desire. In Windows 7, Microsoft has introduced the concept of these common folders as libraries, meaning that in your My Documents you can have multiple locations for storing things. For example: I have two folders of ‘Music’ mapped under my music library. The first location points to a music library on my laptop hard drive where I carry a selection of music I love to listen to all the time while working, while I have also mapped a second location to a USB hard drive that stores more ‘less required’ music. The great thing with these libraries is that they only appear when available and you won’t get lots of errors if there not. I also like the implications of adding SharePoint document libraries to this scenario where a user can access a SharePoint document library with little effort.

But enough on these new features, By Microsoft adding these great library features that have removed the change location ability that allows me to move my desktop from %USERPROFILE%\Desktop to another location. Frustrating!

Doing a little digging through the registry I found that it is possible to change the location of the desktop folder (or any of the core folder locations) to a location other than the default. Please note, that editing the registry can be dangerous and you should only make changes if you are willing to take the risks involved in editing the registry.

To change your default desktop location and do the following:

  1. Open the Registry editor (Regedit.exe)
  2. Browse to the location:
    HKCU > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Explorer > User Shell Folders.
  3. In the right window pane select the required value (i.e. Desktop).
  4. Insert the new location for the folder to be stored.
  5. Close the registry editor and log off.

When you log back on your Windows 7 folder location such as the desktop will be stored at the new location. You do need to note that any content that was stored in the old location does not move with the change and will need to be moved from the old location to the new location before you will see it again.

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15 Comments »

  1. Hi,
    I tried browsing for the HKCU > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Explorer > User Shell Folders and it{s not in the regedit.exe

    I have a home edition of windows 7, does that have anything to do with the location of the desktop folder?

    Comment by Andrew — January 4, 2010 @ 4:36 am | Reply

    • Start menu > Run > Regedit…

      HKCU is HKEY_CURRENT_USER

      Comment by Carl — January 12, 2010 @ 5:01 am | Reply

  2. Start menu > Run > Regedit…

    HKCU is HKEY_CURRENT_USER

    Comment by Carl — January 12, 2010 @ 5:00 am | Reply

  3. Hey i seriously need technical help

    Comment by Nomthandazo Ngcobo — March 6, 2010 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  4. There is a much much easier way to do this.

    Simply browse to your user folder and right click on the desktop folder. Choose properties, then the “location” tab. You can set the folder location directly in there :)

    Comment by Rox Flame — August 15, 2010 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks for the information.

    Comment by Vikram — February 10, 2011 @ 1:48 am | Reply

  6. Thank you for the very easy way Rox Flame which works… and thank you The Information Worker for the more complex way which works as well – which I had to do when I stupidly messed up the easy way…!!

    Comment by Nick — March 1, 2011 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  7. Unreal tip! Worked perfectly!

    Comment by Will — July 19, 2011 @ 7:33 am | Reply

  8. I’ve somehow now ended up with double everything on my Desktop. Help!

    Comment by Arlene — September 24, 2011 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  9. wow thank you.

    Comment by delight — October 19, 2011 @ 6:31 am | Reply

  10. That’s cool…it works and nice tutorial……Thanks….

    Comment by ruwan — May 26, 2012 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

  11. after restart desktop folder is back … to c:/use/name … I am very dissapoint, I don’t know what to do! Changed permissions, give permissions, change registry … nothing!

    Comment by Alepou — June 17, 2012 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

    • Most likely a Group policy (gpedit.msc) in place that is redirecting your folders to another location. Something your System Administrator should look into (as this is generically applied each time you log into your PC) if this is something that is support by your company. If this is a personal computer then i would suggest checking to make sure that you do not have any group policies accidentally activated for folder redirection but you would have to be more than a basic user to do this.

      Comment by Nobody — August 7, 2013 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

  12. [...] Change your desktop folder in Windows [...]

    Pingback by Creating a Virtual Desktop with Dropbox | the kludge — November 10, 2012 @ 2:14 am | Reply

  13. Why visitors still use to read news papers when in this technological globe everything is
    existing on web?

    Comment by music software for pc — February 21, 2014 @ 3:48 pm | Reply


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