How-To Geek

How to Move Your Documents, Music, and Other Folders Somewhere Else in Windows

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By default, Windows stores your personal folders like Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos in C:\Users. If you want to move them to a secondary drive—say, if you have an SSD that can’t house all your files—you can do so with a simple menu option.

These folders are stored in your user folder (so, if your user account name is Simon, you’d find them at C:\Users\Simon). You could move these folders by dragging them to the new location, but there are a few issues that can arise by doing so, like errors from certain programs. Using the “official” method we outline below ensures that you’re moving only folders that support being moved, and that Windows always knows where those folders are.

Before we get too far into it, here are the exact folders we’re talking about:

  • Contacts
  • Desktop
  • Documents
  • Downloads
  • Favorites
  • Links
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Saved Games
  • Searches
  • Videos

There will be folders in your user directory that you can’t move this way. The AppData folder, for example, shouldn’t be moved. Some apps may also create folders there—especially cloud storage apps like OneDrive and Dropbox. You can’t move those using the instructions in this post. Instead, you’ll need to follow instructions for those given apps—we have a guide for moving the OneDrive folder and moving the Dropbox folder, for example.

Moving any of the personal folders on that list follows exactly the same procedure and works in every version of Windows from Vista on up—including Windows 7, 8, and 10. The first thing you’ll need to do is close any apps you have running, as open apps can interfere with the move.

Next, open a File Explorer window and navigate to the following folder (where username is the name of your user account):

C:\Users\username

Inside that folder, you should see all the personal folders we mentioned.

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Right-click on the folder you want to move and then click “Properties.”

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In the Properties window for the folder, switch to the “Location” tab. The text box shows the current location of the folder. You can select a new location either by typing the new path directly into the text box or by clicking the “Move” button and browsing for a new location to fill the text box that way. Either way, once the new location is shown, click “OK.”

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The “Move Folder” confirmation window that pops up next is just badly worded enough that it can be confusing. Click “Yes” if you want to create the new location, have Windows start using it, and move all your files from the old location. Click “No” if you just want to create the folder and have Windows start using it, but don’t want to move your current files for some reason. Click “Cancel” to stop everything and not create the new folder location at all. We highly recommend choosing “Yes” so you don’t end up with files in two locations.

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You should now see the folder in the new location. Windows and all your apps will now consider that the official location of that personal folder. Go ahead and repeat this process for the other folders you want to move. And, should you ever need to move it back, you can return to the “Location” tab of the folder’s properties window and either select a new location or just click the “Restore Default” button.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Published 12/16/16
  • Keith R. Starkey

    Hey, great information. Thanks very much!

  • tony barron

    I've never understood why Windows doesn't initially create, or, when reinstalling, look for, a partition where configuration files and documents are kept; Keeping them on the same partition as the OS is a silly idea.

  • FirstSpear

    Perhaps even more valuable is changing the location of the \TEMP and \TMP folders. I've found that the \TMP folder in particular gets huge after a while, and we all know that frequent deleting isn't good for SSDs.Go to Control Panel\System\Advanced System Settings\Environment Variables...Scroll down in the lower pane to both entries, and Edit them to wherever you want them on your HDD. Might be an idea to create the folders first on the HDD - I can't remember if Windows creates them immediately.This is one of the first things I do following a reinstallation of Windows.

  • Jean Pierre Liebaert

    I made it in all the previous versions of windows from XP and it worked fine.Now in Windows 10, all these folders has taken the name of "Documents" but Explorer shows the right icon.I can't fix that problem.

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