by on 2011-03-11 09:14:18

How to change the default document directory for your documents

Applications in Windows capable of creating various documents, store in Documents folders, that is accessible through the Library in Windows Explorer.
There are many reasons why people would like to move their default Documents folder. Either they want to keep their system partition "clean" or perhaps they create and use so many documents, that they take a lot of space, or they want to have it on separate partition for backup purposes and easier manipulation. In either case, its good to know how to change the default document folder in Microsoft Windows.

Changing the default document location

Open the Computer window with StartComputer. On the left side panel locate the Library folder and its Documents subfolder. Click on the arrow next it to view its contents. You will see another Documents folder. This is basically the "link" to the actual physical data located on the default location and this is the place where most, if not all latest applications, save documents you have created. Here you will find your Word DOCXs, Excel XLSXs, or PDFs you have created and saved to the default Documents folder.

Libraries shown in Windows Explorer

But where are the actual data located ? If you right click on the Documents and select Properties → then choose Location tab, you will see the path to your actual document files as shown on the screenshot below. If you want to open the folder, just click on the

Screenshot of Document Properties with highlighted Find Target button

For many reason, its handy to move the actual documents to other location. You either want to save some space on your system partition, or want to safe keep them on another partition for easier access or backup, or just want them move out of the complicated and often tiresome file structure of the Users folder. To move the actual document directory to another location click on the Move... button like shown on the screenshot below.

Screenshot of Document Properties with highlighted Move... button

A browser window will appear in which you can specify the new location of your documents. Either already existing location, or you can create a new folder on any of your partitions. For tutorial purposes we have just changed the location to C:\Documents. After you have chosen the new directory for your documents, click on the Select Folder button. After this the new location will be reflected in the location tab like shown on the screenshot below.

Select Destination for the document folder

After you have selected the new folder for your documents, the change will be reflected in location tab of the Documents Properties, like you can see on the following screenshot.

Screenshot of Document Properties with highlighted Document Directory location

After you click on Apply a new dialog window, like the one shown on the screenshot below, will appear and ask you, if you want to transfer your currently saved documents to the new location. It is advised to do so, to minimize the potential risk of  application errors, when programs look for the documents on the old location.

Move Folder dialog window screenshot

This action will move your Documents folder to the select location, move all your documents in it, and change the name of the directory where the actual files are located. However, in Windows Explorer you will still see the folder named as Documents, with its unique icon, even if you have named it otherwise. That's because the Windows Explorer does show the link from the Library, not the actual directory. You can rename the link, but the actual directory will still keep the name you specified before you moved it to its new location. If you want to see the actual files and directory, you have to use some proper file manager like Total Commander instead Windows Explorer.

If you ever desire to reset the document location back to default, you can just click on the Restore Default button.

Screenshot of Document Properties with highlighted Restore Default button


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Related file extensions

doc - Microsoft Word document (prior version 2007)

docx - Microsoft Word Open XML document

xls - Microsoft Excel 97 to 2003 workbook

xlsx - Microsoft Excel Open XML workbook and spreadsheet

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