Restore Default Folder Location After a Move in Windows

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Upon installing Windows, the default directory of a users personal folders (Desktop, Documents, Pictures, etc.) is within the C:\Users directory. However, a user may choose to Move these folders to another location or external drive, for example if they are running low on storage space.

In some cases, I have noticed that after moving one of the personal folder locations (changing the default storage location) I receive an error which prevents me from restoring the default location.

In this article, I will show you how to restore the default location of, for example, the Documents folder on a Windows 11 PC without errors. But this should work for any personal folder. Read my article on restoring the default Screenshots folder location.


Restore Default Documents Folder Location

The below will show you how to reset or restore the default location of your Documents folder. Note, this will work for your other personal windows folders.

  1. Open File Explorer by pressing the Win+E keys on your keyboard.
  2. Locate your Documents folder and right mouse click on it. Then select Properties from the drop down menu.
  3. In the Properties window, click on the Location tab at the top.
  4. Under the Location tab, click Restore Default.
  5. The default location (C:\Users\[YourUsername]\Documents) will be inserted into the location textbox.
  6. Now click the Apply button followed by the OK button. If the default location of your Documents folder changes without error then you are good to go.
    • If, while clicking the Apply button, it throws an error “Can’t move the folder because there is a folder in the same location that can’t be redirected. Access is denied.” as shown below, then follow the instructions on using the Windows Registry Editor app as explained below.


Restore Default Documents Folder Location using Registry Editor

If you receive the an error above while attempting to change the default location of any personal folders on your PC, then you need to change the registry file by changing its contents as explained below for resolving this error.

WARNING: Only use the Windows Registry Editor if you know what you are doing AND are willing to risk damaging your Windows system. As always, you should ensure you have a full, working backup of your PC before proceeding.

  1. Press the Windows Start menu key on your keyboard and type Registry (just start typing it will auto search for Registry for you).
  2. Click on “Registry Editor app” from the list of choices and select Yes when the User Account Control window pops up.
  3. Enter the below location into the Windows Registry Editor address bar at the top:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

  1. Within the pane on the right side of the editor look for an entry Name of Personal. Note this is for the Documents folder.
  2. Double mouse click on this entry to edit it.
  3. In the Edit String window, type the below line into the Value data textbox and click the OK button.


  1. Once saved, you may close the Registry Editor and restart your PC.
  2. After the PC reboots, you should now see that your personal Documents folder location has been restored to its default location on your PC.



I hope my article on how to restore a default folder location after a move on Windows has helped you. I welcome your thoughts, questions or suggestions regarding this article.

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