Move the My Documents Folder in Windows 7

We have previously written about several reasons why it is not a good idea to store your data on the same hard drive as your Windows XP system and how to move the My Documents folder to a different location (see our post Move the My Documents Folder in Windows XP). The My Documents folder in Windows 7 can also be moved to avoid it residing on the same hard drive as the Windows 7 system.

NOTE: The following steps need to be repeated for each user account in your Windows 7 system for which you want to move the My Documents folder.

To move the My Documents folder in Windows 7, click on the Start button and select Documents from the list.

Selecting Documents on Start menu

In the left panel of the Explorer window, click on the arrows to expand Libraries > Documents > My Documents (located under C:\Users\<Username>).

Expanding My Documents

Right-click on the My Documents folder and select Properties from the popup menu.

Getting properties for the My Documents folder

Click the Location tab on the Properties dialog box. Click the Move button.

The Move button on the Location tab

On the Select a Destination dialog box, select a new location for the My Documents folder. You can create a new folder and name it whatever you like. Once you have selected/created a new location, click the Select Folder button.

Selecting a new destination

The new location is automatically entered into the edit box above the Move button. Click OK.

New folder selected

A dialog box displays asking if you want to move all of the files from the old location to the new location you selected. It is recommended that you do this so any programs that need to access files in the My Documents can still do so. Click Yes.

06_warning_about_moving_files

A dialog box displays the progress of copying the files from the old to the new location. This may take a while depending on how much data you have stored in your My Documents folder.

Copying items to the new location

The new location now displays under your user name (C:\Users\<Username>) even though the physical location of the files is in a different place.

Moved My Documents folder

You can restore the My Documents to the default location easily. Right-click on the new name of the My Documents folder, if you changed the name, or on My Documents if you kept the same name. Select Properties from the popup menu.

Getting properties of My Documents in new location

Click the Location tab and then click the Restore Default button.

Restore Default button on Location tab

The default location of the My Documents folder is automatically entered into the edit box above the Restore Default button. Click OK.

Default location entered

A dialog box displays again, asking if you want to move all of the files from the new location (which is now the old location) back to the default location (which is now the new location). Click Yes.

12_warning_when_restoring_default

The file copying progress displays in a dialog box. To see details of the file copying process, click the More details button, which then turns into the Fewer details button.

Copying items back to the default location

NOTE: We noticed that prior to moving the My Documents folder, it was called My Documents under the Documents folder in the Libraries section of the Explorer window.

However, after we moved the My Documents folder and then restored the default location, the folder was called Documents under the Documents folder in the Libraries section of the Explorer window. This does not affect the behavior of the My Documents folder.

Keeping your data stored on a different hard drive from your operating system is a good strategy. If you move the My Documents folder to a location where you normally keep your data, performing backups of all of your data becomes easier and creating a drive image of your Windows 7 system also becomes easier and the image becomes smaller. This also helps to prevent data loss if something happens to your Windows system or to the hard drive on which it resides.

by Lori Kaufman

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Comments [2]

  1. mwinn says:

    Your method is rather long winded, you can simply drag and drop the documents folder (or all the folders in the 'name' folder) to a different location and Windows 7 will sort out the rest.

  2. mdes says:

    Here is a shorter way to access the My documents' properties.

    Replace:

    - To move the My Documents folder in Windows 7, click on the Start button and select Documents from the list.

    - In the left panel of the Explorer window, click on the arrows to expand Libraries > Documents > My Documents (located under C:Users).

    - Right-click on the My Documents folder and select Properties from the popup menu.

    by:

    - To move the My Documents folder in Windows 7, click on the Start button and right-click on Documents, and select Properties from the popup menu.

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