How to change the location of My Documents in XP and Vista

Having just taken delivery of a new system that came pre-installed with Windows¬†Vista and not much else, I’m using the opportunity to right some wrongs in my rather horribly maintained file structure.

I like to keep my non-system/program files on a partition, while leaving the standard C drive to hold the bulk of installed programs and system files. This keeps all my media (movies, music, photos, etc.) seperate from the drive that houses my OS – allowing me a quick and easy way of formatting the system drive, and not needing to back up the much bulkier “media” drive.

Windows, by default, works counter to this by setting up the My Documents folder’s location to the C drive. In the past I went around this by denying that the My Documents folder even existed, and just making my own file system.

As many programs use this area as a default storage area for certain data, as well as some games using it for saved game files, this eventually led to a rather messy file structure that had half of my data on the media partition and half of it on the system partition. Sucky to say the least.

But as I said, a new system – new rules. I finally decided to dig a bit and see if I couldn’t change the default location of the My Documents (or “Documents” directory – as it’s called in Vista). The solution was a WHOLE lot simpler than I had assumed, and I felt rather stupid I hadn’t noticed it sooner.

To change the location, simply follow these steps:

  1. Click the START button. With the mouse over the My Documents (“Documents” for Vista) folder/icon, right click and select Properties.
  2. For XP: On the Target tab (Location for Vista), simply change the Target folder location to whichever location you prefer.
  3. To select a location from the standard file/folder selection box, choose “Find Target…”, or if you prefer to move your current My Documents folder to the new location, choose “Move…” and select your new location.
  4. To restore the original location, just click “Restore Default”.

That’s it. It’s just that simple. You can get a few more My Documents customizations at Microsoft’s support page.

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