Personal User Folder - Restore Missing Folder

ByLine
How to Restore Missing or Default Location of User Folders in Vista
Synopsis
This tutorial will show you how to restore a personal user folder if it has been deleted, in the wrong location, or is missing from your C:\Users\(user name) or Start menu location.
How to Restore a Missing or Default Location of User Folders in Vista

information   Information
This tutorial will show you how to restore a personal user folder if it has been deleted, in the wrong location, or is missing from your C:\Users\(user name) or Start menu location.
Tip   Tip

If you have duplicate user folders instead, then you will need to backup the contents of the duplicate user folders, do OPTION TWO below, delete the duplicate folders, then you may need to restart the computer a couple of times first before the default location is restored.

EXAMPLE: Personal User Profile Folders
User_Folders.jpg
EXAMPLE: Personal User Profile Folders Start menu Location
Start_menu_Location.jpg




OPTION ONE
Restore User Folders Using Folder Properties

NOTE: This can help restore the default location of a user folder. If it does not help, then use OPTION TWO below.
1. Right click on the user folder that you want to restore the default location for and click on Properties.​
NOTE: Do this from the C:\Users\(user name) location for the best results and not from the Start menu user folders.​
2. Click on the Location tab. (See screenshot below step 3)​
NOTE: If you do not have a Location tab, then this is not the correct user folder and is only a normal folder that has the same name as the user folder. You will most likely need to use OPTION TWO below in this case instead.​
3. Click on the Restore Default button and click on OK. (See screenshot below)​
Properties.jpg

4. If you get this, then click on Yes. (See screenshot below)​
Restore_Default.jpg

5. Click on Yes. (See screenshot below)​
WARNING: If you do not click on Yes, you will have two copies of the personal user folder in the main (user name) folder with one being as described in the NOTE under step 2.​
Restore_Move_Folder.jpg






OPTION TWO
Manually Restore User Folders with Reg File Download & Registry Editor

Note   Note
This is a more thorough method of restoring a user folder's default location, or restore missing user folders.

The reg files in the downloads below will restore the default values at this registry location below.

Code:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders
User_Folders_Reg.jpg

warning   Warning
If you have any duplicate user folders, or user folders that do not have a Location properties tab (Option One), then you will need to:
  • Backup only the folder's contents to another location to be safe.
  • Now proceed with the steps below

1. Open your C:\Users\(user-name) folder. If the user folder is missing, then create a New Folder and rename it with the name below for that user folder.​

User Folder

Rename with

Contacts

Contacts

Desktop

Desktop

Documents

Documents

Downloads

Downloads

Favorites

Favorites

Links

Links

Music

Music

Pictures

Pictures

Saved Games

Saved Games

Searches

Searches

Videos

Videos

2. To Restore Default Contacts Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Default_Contacts_Location.reg
download

3. To Restore Default Desktop Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Desktop_Default_Location.reg
download

4. To Restore Default Documents Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Documents_Default_Location.reg
download

5. To Restore Default Downloads Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Downloads_Default_Location.reg
download

6. To Restore Default Favorites Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Favorites_Default_Location.reg
download

7. To Restore Default Links Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Default_Links_Location.reg
download

8. To Restore Default Music Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Music_Default_Location.reg
download

9. To Restore Default Pictures Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Pictures_Default_Location.reg
download

10. To Restore Default Saved Games Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Default_Saved_Games_Location.reg
download

11. To Restore Default Searches Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Default_Searches_Location.reg
download

12. To Restore Default Videos Folder Location
A) Click on the download button below to download the file below.​
Restore_Videos_Default_Location.reg
download

13. Save the .reg file to your Desktop.​
14. Right click on the downloaded .reg file, and click on Merge.​
15. Click on Run, Yes, Yes, and OK when prompted.​
16. Open the Start Menu, then type regedit in the search box and press enter.​
17. If prompted by UAC, then click on Continue (administrator) or enter administrator's password (if standard user).​
18. In regedit, navigate to the location below. (see screenshot below)​
Code:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders
Shell_Folders.jpg

19. In the right pane of Shell Folders, right click on the user folder in the Name column in the registry (see table below) that you want to restore, then click on Modify. (see screenshot above)​
NOTE: If the Name entry in the table below is not there, then right click on a empty space in the right pane, click on New and String Value, and give it the name in bold below for that user folder.​

User Folder

Name in Registry

Contacts

{56784854-C6CB-462B-8169-88E350ACB882}

Desktop

Desktop

Documents

Personal

Downloads

{374DE290-123F-4565-9164-39C4925E467B}

Favorites

Favorites

Links

{BFB9D5E0-C6A9-404C-B2B2-AE6DB6AF4968}

Music

My Music

Pictures

My Pictures

Saved Games

{4C5C32FF-BB9D-43B0-B5B4-2D72E54EAAA4}

Searches

{7D1D3A04-DEBB-4115-95CF-2F29DA2920DA}

Videos

My Videos

20. Type in the full default path (see table below) of the user folder, and click on OK. (see screenshot below)​
NOTE: Substitute User-Name in the full path with your user account name instead.​
Modify_Shell_Folders.jpg

User Folder

Default Path

Contacts

C:\Users\User-Name\Contacts

Desktop

C:\Users\User-Name\Desktop

Documents

C:\Users\User-Name\Documents

Downloads

C:\Users\User-Name\Downloads

Favorites

C:\Users\User-Name\Favorites

Links

C:\Users\User-Name\Links

Music

C:\Users\User-Name\Music

Pictures

C:\Users\User-Name\Pictures

Saved Games

C:\Users\User-Name\Saved Games

Searches

C:\Users\User-Name\Searches

Videos

C:\Users\User-Name\Videos

21. Close Regedit.​
22. Open an elevated command prompt.​
23. In the elevated command prompt, Copy and Paste the command below for the user folder icon that you want to restore to default. (see table below)​
NOTE: This will set the user folder attributes back to default. You can Copy and Paste these to make it easier for you.

User Folder

Command

Contacts

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Contacts /S /D

Desktop

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Desktop /S /D

Documents

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Documents /S /D

Downloads

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Downloads /S /D

Favorites

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Favorites /S /D

Links

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Links /S /D

Music

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Music /S /D

Pictures

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Pictures /S /D

Saved Games

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\"Saved Games" /S /D

Searches

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Searches /S /D

Videos

attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Videos /S /D

24. Close the elevated command prompt.​
25. Open the Start Menu, then Copy and Paste the Shell command (see table below) in the search box for the User folder that you want to restore, and press Enter.​
NOTE: If this opens the missing personal user folder(s), then you are done and can skip step 26 and go to step 27 instead.​

User Folder

Shell Command

Contacts

shell:Contacts

Desktop

shell:desktop

Documents

shell:personal

Downloads

shell:downloads

Favorites

shell:Favorites

Links

shell:Links

Music

shell:My Music

Pictures

shell:My Pictures

Saved Games

shell:SavedGames

Searches

shell:Searches

Videos

shell:My Video

26. Log off and log on, or restart the computer to finish restoring the user folder location.​
NOTE: Sometimes you may need to restart more than once for the changes to be applied.
27. When done, you can delete the downloaded .reg file(s) if you like.​
28. If you have any duplicate user folders left, or user folders that do not have a Location properties tab (Option One), then you will need to:​
  • Delete all duplicate user folders without the correct default C:\Users\(user-name)\(user-folder) path (see step 20) and user folders without a Location properties tab.
That's it,
Shawn


 
Last edited:
Shawn Brink

Comments

Hello Kenny, and welcome to Vista Forums.

I would first double check using OPTION THREE to make sure that the Pictures folder was set with it's default location. You might also check to see if the files in the folder may have been set to be hidden by mistake as well.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
thank you Shawn, i'm at work now, but if i remember correctly there are two folders for each thing 1 blue or green and 1 yellow, i.e. 2-music folders, 2-picture folders...hmm
 
If that is the case, then backup anything that you do not want to lose in them to be safe. Afterwards, make sure that they all are set with there default locations in OPTION THREE of that tutorial above, then delete the folders and restart the computer. It may take a couple of restarts, but it should restore the folders back to default where you can then copy the backups back to the folders.
 
Hi,

I'm not sure if I'm having a problem or not, everything is working fine. BUT...I've noticed just recently that my Vista 32bit has two 'Documents' folders. When I go to start and click on 'Michael' I see the usual 'Desktop', 'Documents', 'Downloads', 'Favorites', 'Music', etc. But if I open the 'Downloads' icon, I see the couple folders I made 'Demos1', Demos2', but now there is also a 'Documents' folder, with all the exact files as in the original 'Documents' folder. Same number & size of files. I used to just download files off the internet directly into the 'Downloads' folder. But because there got to be so many files in there, I made subfolders, so I know that there wasn't a 'Documents' folder in the 'Downloads' folder. Are these 'Documents' files and folders duplicates, using up more space? Or is it just reading off the other 'Documents' folder?

If I go to the 'Properties' section of EACH of the 'Documents' folders, and click on Location and then click on 'Restore Default', they both change from

c:\Users\Michael\Downloads\Documents to c:\Users\Michael\Documents

this tells me that probably somewhere along the line the 'Documents' folder location got changed. Is that correct? If so, I have no idea how that happened.

My last question is:

Is it worth the trouble it might cause to do any of the things you have described in the rest of this thread, to change it back? I'm not having any trouble at all. It just kind of bothers me that this happened.

I did check the registry...there is no listing of the 'Documents' or 'Downloads' folders as there is for 'Desktop' 'Favorites' 'My Music', etc. Should there be?

But there is a 'Personal' file or folder listed there, and IT is in the 'Downloads\Documents' folder. I do have a 'Personal' folder in my Documents folder. But I never thought it was in the Downloads area.

This is all pretty puzzling to me. Thanks for any help or answer you can give me.
Sorry about the length.
Mike
 
Hello Mike, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Under OPTION THREE, you can download and merge the ones for the Downloads (long top # in registry) and Documents (Personal in registry) folders to make sure that they are set to the default location.

Afterwards, save the contents of the Documents folder to another location as a backup, then delete the Documents folder in the Downloads folder and restart the computer. It may take a couple of restarts, but it should restore the folder for you back to default.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
By the Way, Shawn, is there any downside to not doing anything at this point, and leaving it as it is?

I ask this because there's 36GB of stuff in that folder and earlier, trying to copy it to an exterior drive, it said it would take 2-3 hours to transfer.

And, also, does this mean I have twice the 36GB of Documents files on my computer because it's in two places?

Mike
 
It will not hurt anything to wait, but you will just have duplicate folders until it is fixed. Once you have it fixed and everything checks out, you can delete the backups to regain the space back though. :)
 
Boy, am I a pest or what! or maybe just dense..:shock:

But I think this should be the last query....

When I mentioned about having the 'documents' folder in two places, that I'm looking at right now before doing anything, one a Documents folder under Michael, and one a Documents folder 'inside' the Downloads area (with the same files), are they 'each' currently taking up 36GB of space on my harddrive (for a total of 72GB)?
Or are they actually one and the same folder, taking up 'one' 36GB of space? with one or the other actually being a shortcut or some strange thing that Vista does??

The reason I ask is that earlier this afternoon before I found this site, I was actually trying to transfer (move) the Documents folder inside the Downloads area to my exterior hard drive, and as I checked on the files being moved out of 'that' folder, I checked, and they were 'ALSO' being moved out of the regular Documents folder simultaneously! So I stopped the transfer because I thought the two folders were one and the same and I was actually transferring all my Documents folders to the external drive.

Talk about strange.

Thanks again! in advance, Shawn:)
 
Last edited:
No problem Mike.

It's actually only being referenced at both locations for the same files, so it is still only taking up 36GB total and not double that. :)
 
Ok Shawn worked on it all night last night i couldn't find anything to recover, the files weren't hidden ............. and under option 3after step 10 it would pop up with a notepad window .... couldn't get anything figured ...... the wife is not happy .... lol
 
hi

Currently , i have the missing folder, Documents , in my user account. It somehow disappeared and i just realised something else happened. Several other files in that documents folder were "missing" too. They are present , but do not show the icon. (Eg An address of a file is User/Documents/Downloads. but i cannot see Downloads in the documents file)

I know i can put a shortcut to those directories , but i realised that they are not gone from the folders but just missing.

1st: For vista, there is a bar where they show the links of a file like : "ImageA" in is "pictures" in " Documents" in "User123".

I currently cannot use that to go to my missing documents page , but once im in my documents page i can select the > arrow key and i can see "documents " under my User.

When i tried to make a file with the exact name Documents under my user , it said that it existed already and is already contained in my user file. BUT , i cannot see the documents file.

Someone help me. I tried the 2nd method and pressed default , but it didnt help

Edit: And i tried to unhide folders, didnt work
 
Hello Dj bnw, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Try the downloads in METHOD THREE for the folders that you are experiencing this with to see if that may help restore them. Afterwards, do METHOD ONE for the folders as well. You may need to restart a couple of time to fully apply the change.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
Back

Hey thank you for your help. However, i tried to download the .reg files , i right clicked merge , then no security prompt came up , and it didnt help either

I tried to go to the registry , but at users shell folders , i couldnt find my documents "key" so i couldnt possibly merge it or watever the steps asked me to do.

Also one thing to take note of is that when i go to Computer > C: > User , i do not see my user folder, only guest and public folders ...weird.. lol

Anw hopefully you can help
 
I followed the excellent tutorial on Personal User Folders and I'm pleased to say that I've been able to restore the green Vista folder icons for the Desktop and Downloads folders. What I cannot understand, however, is although the image bar at the bottom of Windows Explorer shows the correct icon, a green folder with a blue screen in the case of the Desktop folder and a blue arrow in the case of the Downloads folder, the smaller tree icon is plain green and has, so far, resolutely resisted all my attempts to make it display correctly. All the other folder icons seem to be behaving normally. What have I done wrong? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
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