Vista radically changed the location and structure of user folders. No more “Documents and Settings” or “Dokumente und Einstellungen” (in german).
The root for the user folders of a specific user is located under c:users<User name>. This folder can be accessed over Windows Explorer where it is located underneath the Desktop folder.
The c:users folder is always named users regardless of the operating system language, but on a german version of Vista for example the user folder is named Benutzer. Why is that? Well, inside the users folder lives a file called desktop.ini. It can revealed by enabling Show hidden files and folders and unchecking Hide protected operating system files in the view tab of the folder options. The folder options again can be accessed by pressing the Alt+T in Windows Explorer.
The desktop.ini looks like this:
The LocalizedResourceName parameter allows to mask the folder name and replace it with another.
Finally Vista uses the benefits of symbolic links in many areas (I’ll get to that in a later post). But beware of symbolic links, when trying to move user folders around using registry hacks!
You find more information about that in two posts of Scott Hanselman:
Moving user folders
Luckily no extra tools are needed anymore to move a user folder.
Why moving user folders? I absolutely don’t like to place my documents, settings, etc. on my boot drive. I often try something out, make changes to the system and restore backups to keep the system clean(er). When moving at least some of the user folders to another partition, I don’t have to bother resetting my system to a previous state, or even reinstalling it.
To move a user folder:
- Right click on the folder in Windows Explorer, e.g. Music
- Click on Properties
- Choose the Location tab
- Click on Move an choose a target folder
Where are the other folders, like StartMenu, SendTo, etc.?
Those folders also located inside the users folder. They can be found at c:users<user name>AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindows, but you have to enable Show hidden files and folders in Windows Explorer (see Localization).
An easier way to access those folders is to open the Start Menu and enter shell:sendto for example. This works even with Show hidden files … disabled.