How to change the default save location in Windows 10 - gHacks Tech News


Back to Basics: How to change the default save location in Windows 10

Continuing with our beginner friendly back to basics guides, this time we show you how to change default save locations in Windows 10.

The operating system saves all documents, pictures, music etc to the drive Windows is installed on by default: this has always been the case in prior versions of the OS as well.

While that is the desired location for many users, some may prefer different locations, e.g. to store files on another partition or hard drive that has more space.

Tip: check out other parts of the series such as Windows Shutdown Autostart Explained, our Registry backup primer, our this part of the network troubleshooting series.

How to change the default save location in Windows 10

Microsoft implemented functionality in the Settings application of the Windows 10 operating system that allows users to change save locations in a simple and straightforward manner. It just takes a few clicks to do it.

Previously, you had only a couple of options, e.g. to use symbolic links / NTFs junctions.

Why would do you want to do this? Storage space can be an issue for some users. For example, I have a 120GB SSD in my computer and Windows 10 is installed on it along with a few programs. It gets accumulated with media, documents, etc, fairly quickly. This is a big deal, because it not only takes up precious disk space, but it also becomes a chore to move the data manually from time to time.

How to change the default save location in Windows 10

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Click on System and then on "Storage" from the side-bar on the left.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where it says "More Storage Settings".
  4. Click on the text that reads "Change where new content is saved".

You are taken to a new screen which displays the default save locations for six different types of data: Apps, Documents, Music, Photos and Videos, Movies and TV Shows, and Maps.

Each of these options is set to "This PC" by default. To change the default save location click on the menu next to a data type and pick one of the available locations from the menu that opens; Windows 10 lists all partitions that are available on the computer.

How to change the default save location in Windows 10 - choose a drive

How to change the default save location in Windows 10 - apply

If you want to change the save location of Apps, simply click the button next to the icon and select a different drive. Click on the apply button which appears. You will see a progress cursor, wait for a few seconds and it should be done.  You will have to repeat this for each of the 6 options if you want to change the save location for each of the data types.

Once you have done this, Windows 10 will save the data to the selected partition. You may have to re-open existing applications for the change to be reflected though.

Note: Windows will still create its Documents folder for each of the selected drives. It will be created in the following format: "Username\Content Type\". For e.g. selecting D: as the new location for pictures on my computer created the folder in D:\Ashwin\Pictures. It's too bad that you can't pick a custom folder for the saved data, but this option should be fine for most users.

Windows 10 allows you to pick different partitions for different categories. Continuing with the previous example, you could select a different drive for Documents, say E:. You could set Music to be saved on F: and so on. It also lets you select other hard drives installed on the computer. So, you can use them for saving content as well.

But what about USB hard drives? Can I use those? If you have an external drive connected to the computer, you will see it listed as well. But I'd really only recommend using it for the save location, if the drive will be permanently connected to the computer.

Closing Words

Moving save locations to a different partition or drive is a welcome feature but it is a bit unfortunate that the folder structure itself cannot be changed at all. Windows 10 replicates the default storage path on the new partition and there is no option to change that.

Other than that, it is a good option for users who run out of space on their primary partition regularly.

How to change the default save location in Windows 10
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How to change the default save location in Windows 10
Are you running out of storage space on C: ? Let's tell you how to change the default save location in Windows 10.
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  1. mikef90000 said on October 14, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    Thank you for exposing this useful feature. I have always used a separate NTFS partition for data shared on a multiboot (Windows and Linux) system. Note that the NTFS permissions/ACL are not recognized by Linux which is actually a plus for my use case.

  2. ipnonymous said on October 14, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    This is a Great feature. Always wanted to know how to do this, Thanks!!

  3. Franck said on October 15, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Very useful, thanks a lot for your great article !

  4. Anonymous said on October 15, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Very restrictive. Why can’t I change the default folder path? I have only one drive, so no choices for me here.

  5. Rob said on October 15, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Honestly, this is the one thing that needs to be fixed and always has needed to be fixed. Let me install APPLICATIONS (I could care less about apps), to where I want, such that I don’t need to worry about having to reinstall stuff when reinstalling the OS.

  6. John said on October 16, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    I just change it by going to the profile, right click the folder I’d want to move and select “Properties” and then go to the tab “location” and move my folder to wherever I want it to reside.

  7. Jeanne Markowski said on January 8, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    My workplace has three shares on each PC; a z: drive, an x: drive and a w: drive as well as c: and a usb. The only options I get to default to in the above scenario are c: and the usb. It’s not seeing the network shares. Any idea on why this is?

  8. Jonathan H. said on January 10, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    Similar comment to Jeanne Markowski’s comment just above mine: I have only a C drive on my actual computer, but I have two network drives. But only the C drive shows up in the “Change where new content is saved” box.

  9. Annette "Nettie" DeCourcy Towler said on February 1, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing this procedure. I have spent hours trying to figure it out. I like my control and Not Microsoft’s control on my documents.

  10. Kasyiah said on March 24, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    I have Windows 10 and when I click the drop-down menu, it only gives me OS as the default option. However, I can not use this because it’s full and I’m trying to use another drive therefore I can download the games I want successfully and I’ve already cleaned this drive many many times however it still gets full. Can you please help me make another drive option, other than the OS default?

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