The default download location on our Windows systems works well enough most of the time without a problem, but what if you want or need to change the location at the system level?

Normally your Downloads folder is on the C: drive, within your user folder. If you have a massive boot drive or regularly clean up old, unused downloads, it is probably perfectly fine there. If you hang on to everything you download, or just hate that file path, you might want to move your downloads folder to a different location.

Note: The screenshots here show Windows 11, but this same process works on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and even Windows Vista.

First, create the folder that will become the new Downloads folder. Open up File Explorer and navigate to the location where you’d like it to be. Then, right-click empty space, mouse over “New,” and select “Folder.” You can name the folder anything you’d like, but you will probably want to name it something logical, like “Downloads.”

Then, take a look at the left-hand side of File Explorer and locate the “Downloads” folder. Right-click it and hit “Properties.”

Select the “Location” tab, and then click “Move.”

Navigate to the folder you want, click it, and then hit “Select Folder.”

The selection window will close, and you’ll be back at the Downloads Properties window. Click “Apply.”

If you have files in your current Downloads folder, you’ll get a prompt asking if you’d like to move all of the files from the old location to the new one. Whether or not you do this is purely up to you and what you want. If you aren’t sure, “Yes” is probably your best bet.

Download folders can be tens or even hundreds of gigabytes in size, so you should expect the transfer to take a while. Just be patient. When it is done, click “OK,” and then click the “X” in the top right of the Downloads Properties window.

Tip: Many Windows applications, including popular web browsers like Google Chrome, use your system’s Downloads folder by default. However, it is also often possible to change your Downloads folder in individual applications. If an individual application doesn’t save files to this folder after you move it, look in that application’s settings.

That’s it — you’re done. If you find yourself constantly running out of space because of a ballooning downloads folder, you might consider moving old downloads to an external hard drive. Alternatively, you can install a new internal hard drive to store all of your files.

The Best External Hard Drives of 2022

Best External Hard Drive Overall
WD My Book Duo RAID
Best Budget External Hard Drive
WD My Passport Ultra Blue
Best External Hard Drive for Mac
Sandisk G-DRIVE ArmorATD
Best Hard Drive for PS5
WD_BLACK 8TB D10 Game Drive
Best External Hard Drive for Xbox
WD_BLACK D10 Game Drive For Xbox
Best Portable External Hard Drive
LaCie Rugged Mini External Hard Drive
Best External Solid State Drive
Samsung T7 Portable SSD

Profile Photo for Nick Lewis Nick Lewis
Nick Lewis is a staff writer for How-To Geek. He has been using computers for 20 years --- tinkering with everything from the UI to the Windows registry to device firmware. Before How-To Geek, he used Python and C++ as a freelance programmer. In college, Nick made extensive use of Fortran while pursuing a physics degree.
Read Full Bio »
Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
Read Full Bio »