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The My Documents folder is typically in a very specific place for each user in Windows XP. The good news is you can move it, and it's easy to do.

I have partitioned my hard drive putting the OS and programs on C: and files on separate partitions. How do I get XP's "My Documents" to refer directly to a location on the other partition?

Turns out there are a couple of ways to do this, and both are fairly simple.

The quickest and most complete way I know of is in Windows Explorer to right click and hold on C:\Documents and Settings\(your user name)\My Documents, and then drag it to the new location. When you release it'll ask what you want to do.

For example, on my primary machine, my "My Documents" folder is located in C:\Documents and Settings\LeoN\My Documents. In Windows Explorer I navigate to locate that folder, right click on it and hold, and then drag it over to the root of my D: drive. This is what I see when I release the mouse:

Windows Explorer about to move My Documents folder

"Many people are very tempted to go in and simply edit the registry; I recommend against that."

Selecting Move Here does several things:

  • It creates a new folder by the name of "My Documents" in the target location

  • It copies all of the files and folders from the old My Documents into the new

  • It removes the old, empty My Documents folder

  • It updates the system registry to use the new "My Documents" folder as the My Documents folder for your account.

Many people are very tempted to go in and simply edit the registry; I recommend against that. If you don't want to do everything that's listed above, a quick way to only change the registry setting is our old and free friend TweakUI. After downloading and installing TweakUI from the Microsoft web site you can run it, and then expand My Computer and then click on Special Folders. There you can drop down a list of all the special folders Windows keeps track of. Select My Documents:

TweakUI showing the My Documents setting

As you can see TweakUI is already reflecting the change I made above by using Windows Explorer. Note also the descriptive text below the setting indicating that changing the setting here will not move any files, and in fact describing the method used above to do so.

If you click on the Change Location button TweakUI will give you a warning, but then let you select a new location for the My Documents folder.

Note that no mater how you move it, some applications may still refer to the old location. You'll need to update each application as problems arise. In reality, moving My Documents is best done when first setting up a system.

Article C3298 - February 21, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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13 Comments
Bill P. Godfrey
February 22, 2008 5:59 AM

Thanks for that, but is there a way to move the whole "Documents and Settings" to a second hard disk, rather than just the My Documents?

Many thanks.

SreeKumar
February 22, 2008 11:30 PM

Your article is very useful. I used to di it by editing registry. I have two questions
1) Why don't you recommend changing in registry?
will it make any problem? I have done it in many machines.
2) Can I move entire profile (Documents and settings) to D: drive? How?

Sam W.
February 23, 2008 7:57 AM

I see that TweakUI is for XP. Is there a TweakUI for Vista, or will the above TweakUI work in Vista?

annon
February 23, 2008 10:33 AM

Can I do the same with the programs folder?

I want all of those in a separate partition.

Eli Coten
February 23, 2008 2:43 PM

Another way, which doesn't require TweakUI is to right click on the "real" my Documents folder (by Real I mean the start menu icon, or the desktop icon but NOT a shortcut to My Documents, and NOT the actual location on the disk) usually the easiest way to do this is rely on the one on the start menu as this will be the real folder (assuming you haven't created extra shortcuts to My Documents on your start menu) and click the then you get the option right there to "move".

Simply type in or browse to your new location and click Apply/Ok and Windows will offer you to move all your existing documents to the new location, whilst at the same time updating the registry.

Ann Hardegree
May 12, 2008 7:45 PM

I have recently purchased a Toshiba lab top equiped with Windows Vista (use to Wndows XP). Where are the document I save, where is save as tab, what folder do they go to? I have a the present a free trial of Microsoft. Is that worth purchasing or would it be benifical to purchase Windows XP and do away with Windows XP?

David Thompson
September 9, 2008 8:32 AM

For Vista, trying using WinBubble. It is free. Note that a commercial Vista product called TweakVI (note the 'V' in the name) has a free version available. But WinBubble works great for what I want to do. Google for "WinBubble" or try something like "vista settings tweak" and you'll see lots of programs. I've used TweakVI and WinBubble, and I like WinBubble better.

David Robinson
December 22, 2008 3:31 AM

This worked great the first time around.
Now I have had to rebuild XP as it became unstable and the pesky My Documents on the C drive is back.
I tried moving the new my documents to the D drive then moving all the former "My documents"under that but it has not worked.
I now have both the C drive My Documents that windows explorer defaults to and a new one in the D drive I have to navigate to.

Is there a way to handle the
move after a rebuild? Reattach the D drive My Documents in some way?

Peter
March 15, 2009 2:26 PM

HELP? I attempted this move (as I found you after looking up and attempting the move through "properties" "move" and it not working), and the same thing happened, a critical stop and the simple words "Cannot Move File". No explanation, no error code, nothing! I have made sure the file is setup to be shared, as well as attempted to change it from "read only" (just in case either mattered), but it still will not move. I am afraid to move individual parts of it because I don't know how (if) My Documents can read from multiple locations - but my c: is almost out of space and I seriously need to move much of my oft accessed files to the new drive I put in. Can you help?

LUCI
July 13, 2011 5:56 AM

leo i have to say:you are genious....its the simplest way to change my documents folder indeed....i am from sofia i am scientist...thanks and contact me if you are interested in cosmological research

Gian Luca
June 18, 2012 10:27 AM

Thank you. I have having problems in Vista (there was no Move button in the Location tab of the My Documents Properties window) and used your first method which worked like a charm!!!

Shahzia
July 22, 2012 2:23 AM

Hi Leo, could you please tell me, regarding the drive C, is it possible to share the drive space from other drives D, E etc to increase the size of drive C. ( Drive C disk space id 19.5GB not enough ) windows XP and rest of drives have huge space upto 70GB. I dont want to format drive C at all, but can format other drives as not important files.

connie
July 22, 2012 8:00 AM

@Shahzia,
Leo just wrote an article about that. You can find it here:
Can I swap how my C and D drives are used?

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