A fresh installation of Windows 10 produces different user folders that are meant to house things like downloads and documents, as well as organize content like music and photographs. However, you might want to customize things to your own liking.
Whether you’re looking to move these folders to an external drive, or just place them in a different location on your PC, it’s not difficult to change things up. That said, it’s worth taking stock of how to move user folders to another drive in Windows 10, as certain methods can have some seriously undesirable effects.
Why You Shouldn’t Move Your Entire User Folder
Before we get started, here’s a warning: don’t move your entire user folder.
While there is a way to move your whole user folder in Windows 10, it requires users to implement a deployment tool known as Sysprep. Microsoft states with no room for misunderstanding that this process should only be carried out in a test environment. Do it on your primary PC, and you’re liable to lose data, if not access to your system.
Fortunately, there are a few alternatives. It’s relatively easy to move individual user folders, like Downloads and Documents, without running the risks associated with transferring the entire user folder itself. This way, you can move user folders to another drive, all while avoiding the potential for disaster.
Before you start moving things around, it’s a good idea to look over our Windows 10 data backup guide. This way, you don’t accidentally lose an important file.
Method 1: Relocating User Folders
Relocating your Documents, Pictures, or Downloads folders is a good way to get around moving your entire user folder. It’s a simple process that should only take a couple of minutes. Better yet, you can be sure that you won’t lose any of your important files!
To get started, open up File Explorer and navigate to the user folder that you want to move. Right-click it and select Properties.
Head to the Location tab. Click Move and choose the new location for your folder. From here, click OK to make the change take effect. You can repeat this same process for all of the individual folders that you want to move.
It’s important to realize that if you choose an existing folder, you’ll simply reassign that as the folder you’re making changes to. It’s better to create a new folder entirely if you want to start afresh. This method makes the transition quick and easy. You’ll even see the updated location of your user folders automatically in the Quick Access bar.
Method 2: Replacing User Folders
Moving user folders using the above Microsoft-approved method shouldn’t cause any problems. However, if you’re really feeling cautious, you might want to consider replacing your user folders instead.
This technique doesn’t actually change the location of your existing user folders. Instead, you’ll simply use new ones. Since you’re not tinkering with the folders that Windows 10 expects to find in a certain place, there’s no way it can interfere with the operating system.
By default, your photos, documents, apps, pictures, maps, videos, and music all save to the corresponding folders in your user folder. When you want your files saved to a location outside of your user folder and into a separate drive, you’ll have to adjust a few settings.
Ready to learn how to change the default location of user folders in Windows 10?
First, hit the Start menu and navigate to Settings in the left menu bar. Click System > Storage, and then select Change where new content is saved under the “More storage settings” heading.
In the next window, you can change where your apps, documents, music, photos, videos, movies, and offline maps will save. Select the dropdown menu under each file to choose an alternative drive.
Unfortunately, you can’t save new files to a specific folder of your choice. When you select a new drive to save your files on, Windows will automatically create a corresponding folder in the new drive. For example, if you want your document files to save on a different drive, Windows will automatically create a new Documents folder on that drive.
Method 3: Changing Your Downloads’ Save Location
The process of replacing your Downloads folder is a bit different when compared to your other user folders. To begin, go to File Explorer, select a new location for your downloads, and then create a new folder at that location.
After that, you’ll have to move the default save location of all the content you download from the internet. This means you’ll need to open your web browser and select a new Downloads destination. Here, we’ll go over how to change your Downloads save location for Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Firefox.
In Microsoft Edge, click the three dots in the right corner of the browser, and select Settings from the dropdown menu.
Navigate to Downloads in the left menu, click the Change box under the “Location” heading, and select the folder of your choice.
Google Chrome has a very similar process to Edge. Simply click the three vertical dots at the top right corner of the browser, and then click Settings.
Click the Advanced dropdown menu in the left menu bar, and hit Downloads. From here, click Change next to the default folder location, and then select your new Downloads home.
For Firefox, click the three horizontal lines in the top right corner of the browser, and select Options. Scroll down the page until you see the “Downloads” heading.
Next to the selection that reads Save files to, hit Browse. You can then locate and redirect downloads to your newly-created folder.
Don’t Forget to Optimize Your New User Folders
If you really want a sense of organization on your computer, you’ll want to specify the type of content that’s going to be in your new folders. Right-click the folder of your choice in File Explorer, select Properties, and open the Customize tab.
Depending on whether you’re storing documents, images, music files, or videos, making this tweak will ensure that the folder is properly optimized.
Lastly, you’ll want to customize your Quick Access menu and add your new user folders to it. This is as simple as right-clicking the folder and hitting Pin to Quick access. Just don’t forget to right-click any out-of-commission user folders, and select Unpin from Quick access as well.
Move User Folders in Windows 10 and Save Storage Space
Moving your Windows user folder to optimize space may seem like a relatively innocuous change, but it can easily cause some major problems. Whenever you tinker with settings related to the foundations of your operating system, there’s a possibility that you might cause some real damage.
Microsoft makes tools like Sysprep for enterprise use in very specific situations. While expert users can employ them to great effect, there’s a thin line between getting the results that you want and breaking something important, especially if you’re trying to make space for storage in a hurry. Sometimes, it’s best to be a little cautious. This is especially true when it comes to the Windows install process or manipulating system files.
Want to save even more space on your computer? Make sure to delete these Windows files and folders to free up disk space.
Read the full article: How to Move Your User Folders in Windows 10