User Shell Folders

In Windows 7/2008 the main User Profile folder (%USERPROFILE%) has moved from C:\Documents and Settings\ to C:\Users\ and many profile folders have also changed name or location:

 Windows XP/2003                Windows 7/2008

%USERPROFILE%\Application Data %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming
%USERPROFILE%\Cookies          %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies
%USERPROFILE%\History          %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\History
%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings   %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local
%USERPROFILE%\My Documents     %USERPROFILE%\Documents
%USERPROFILE%\NetHood          %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Network Shortcuts
%USERPROFILE%\PrintHood        %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Printer Shortcuts
%USERPROFILE%\Recent           %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent
%USERPROFILE%\SendTo           %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo
%USERPROFILE%\Start Menu       %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
%USERPROFILE%\Templates        %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Templates
%USERPROFILE%\Temporary Internet Files %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files

The values above can be found in the registry (as REG_EXPAND_SZ values)
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

The following HKCU registry subkeys are common to Windows XP/2003/7/2008 :

AppData, Cache, Cookies, Desktop, Favorites, History, LocalAppData, My Pictures, NetHood, Personal, PrintHood, Programs, Recent, SendTo, Start Menu, Startup, Templates.

In summary - the registry locations have stayed the same, but the files and folders are in different places. Some applications read the registry to determine where to save things, others may have hard coded the file paths.

To provide backwards compatibility, in Windows 7/2008 the old locations under C:\Documents and Settings contain junction points (hidden, protected operating system files) which point to the new user-accessible folders.

'All Users' Shell Folders

The folders for All Users settings have also moved:

 Windows XP/2003                      Windows 7/2008

%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Application Data    %ProgramData%
%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Desktop             %PUBLIC%\Desktop
%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Documents           %PUBLIC%\Documents
%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Start menu          %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs\Startup  %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Templates           %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Templates

The values above can be found in the registry (as REG_EXPAND_SZ values)
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

The following HKLM registry subkeys are common to Windows XP/2003/7/2008 :

Common AppData, Common Desktop, Common Documents, Common Programs, Common Start Menu, Common Startup, Common templates


Find the location of the Start Menu folder:

 REG QUERY "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders" /v "Start Menu"

 REG QUERY "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders" /v "Common Start Menu"

 For /f "tokens=3*" %%G in ('REG QUERY "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders" /v "Start Menu" ^|Find "REG_"') do Call Set _startmenu=%%H
 Echo %_startmenu%

PowerShell function to open the Start menu:

function Open-StartMenu {
$drive = dir env:SystemDrive
$w7path = $drive.value + "\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu"
$xppath = $drive.value + "\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu"
if (test-path $w7path)
 {explorer $w7path}
elseif (test-path $xppath) {explorer $xppath}

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going” - Beverly Sills


Windows Environment Variables - XP and Windows 7
RoamingProfile.vbs - Cleardown files to improve logon and logoff times.
Managing Roaming User Data Deployment Guide - TechNet (html and .doc)
Q886549 - User Shell Folders

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