On Windows 10, every account receives a set of default folders that allows users to save and organize their personal documents, pictures, downloads, and other files separately from other accounts.

These folders can grow large over time, so if you have a device with limited storage moving the default folders to another location (such as an external hard drive) helps prevent running out of space on the main system drive and can help free up space you can use to install other apps, and it improves the performance.

In this Windows 10 guide, we walk you through the easy steps to migrate your account default folders to a secondary hard drive or partition.

How to move default user folders to a new location

In order to relocate the default user account folders to a new location on Windows 10, do the following:

  1. Open File Explorer (Windows key + E).
  2. Click on This PC from the left pane.
  3. Under "Devices and drives," browse to the new location.
  4. In the new location create a folder for each piece of content you want to move. (For example, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Videos, and Music.)

    • Quick Tip: You can quickly create a new folder in File Explorer using the Ctrl + Shift + N keyboard shortcut.
  5. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  6. Type the following path and click OK:

    %HOMEPATH%

  7. Right-click the folder you want to move, and select Properties.

  8. Click the Location tab.
  9. Click the Move button.

  10. Browse and select the new folder location.
  11. Click the Select Folder button.

  12. Click Apply.
  13. Click the Yes button to confirm the move from the old to the new location.

  14. Click OK.

Once you complete these steps, the folder will move to the new location with its content and settings. Ideally, you want to move all the default folders you actively use to save files for consistency, repeating steps No. 7 through 14.

You can always revert the changes using the Restore Default button in the Location tab in the "Properties" for each folder.

Although relocating the user's default folders one by one means extra steps, we do not recommend moving the main account folder as it may cause unexpected problems.

Changing the default save location on apps

The only caveat for moving user folders to a new location is that it'll not change the default save location for certain applications. For example, if you use Microsoft Edge, the browser will continue to look for the old path to save files, and it'll create a new Downloads folder automatically if it's not available.

You can prevent this from happening by changing the default location for the application. For example, in Microsoft Edge, you can fix this issue, using these steps:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge.
  2. Click the three-dot menu button, and open Settings.
  3. Click the View advanced settings button.
  4. Under "Downloads," click the Change button.

  5. Browse and select the new location for the Downloads folder.
  6. Click the Select Folder button.

After completing these steps, Microsoft Edge will save future files in the new folder location.

Some applications like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox will automatically detect and reflect the changes automatically. You can always check if your web browser is using the correct path by going to chrome://settings/downloads on Chrome, or going to about:preferences#general on Firefox.

This guide is focused on Windows 10, but the ability to move user folders to another location has been available for a long time, which means that you can also use the same instructions on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources: