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

Yes, I did understand the explanation on the creating folders and copying the backed up contents to the respective new folders: C:\Users\(user-name) folder.

However, I had expected to be told after you had reviewed my two screen shots that I should remove/delete some of the folders?

Also, as I said "What I need to know is what folders are a must have to make things function and in which partition they reside, so as to get my ‘B’ and ‘C’ partitions to talk to each other, if that makes sense." If it is a stupid question I would like to know it is. If not, I want to know if the primary sytem provided folders, at installation have some link/trigger to the OS and vica versa?

I feel the following problem is created by duplicate folders existing in both my 'B' & 'C' partitions. perhaps you could comment on if it is the cause and what I should do to correct it. See below
Currently if I choose to save a document to my personal folders, the system selects my 'C' partition and not my 'B' partition. I have to correct this each time??

Sorry if I am being a pain in the but but I do want to understand the basics of how the system interreacts between my 'B' & 'C' files and folders.

Kind regards and thank you

Jimlad



 
No, you're not being a pain. You're just just asking like you should when something is not understood. :)

You cannot move any folder other the the user folders of your choice to the B: drive. It would be best to only move either of the Music, Pictures, Videos, and Documents user folders from the C: drive to the B: drive if you like. If you have enough space on your C: drive, then it would be best to not move any user folders, and just keep backups of the data/files that you do not want to lose.

See this link for more on moving them to help:
User Profile - Change Default Location - Windows 7 Forums

The moved user folders have a mlink (like a shortcut) that keep them connected to the moved location and the Start Menu. These are not duplicate folders. They will still show up in the Start Menu, but will still actually be at the moved to location. This way you can access and save files to the moved user folders from the Start Menu, but everything will still be saved at the moved location.

Please let me know if you have more questions.
 
Dear friends,
The same happened to me, and I was able to restore the folder using the proposed methods. The problem is that I don't know how to restore my personal files that were in the folder. When I search I can find their shortcuts somewhere but they don't open and the only option left is to remove shortcut as well as the very last trace that my files are somewhere. The question is: can I actually restore my files from Downloads or are they permanently lost?

Thank you for your patience and time.
AZ
 
Hello Ahmed, and welcome to Vista Forums.

If you had originally moved the Downloads folder, then look at where you moved it at to see if there may still be a folder there that was used as the Downloads folder with your files in it.

If not, then you can also try the free programs Recuva and ShadowExplorer to see if they may be able to recover the files in the Download folder for you.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
Dear Shawn,

Thank you for your reply. I appreciate it. I tried a number of "undelete" programs on my files, immediately after being deleted and could not locate them. I had no idea how my Downloads folder went into hiding at the first place, I did not move it anywhere. After not being able to shell it from the Start menu I installed folder registry recovering program and got it back, but alas! empty. It seems to be worse than having deleted them, because with deleting there is at least some chance than you can get them back, but this way...nothing. They are not deleted but not there. I was able to export some shortcuts back into Downloads but when click on them is says:

"The item 'X.X' that this shortcut refers to has been changed or moved so this shortcut will no longer work properly. Would you like to remove it?"

None of the undeleting programs that I used ever found any of them. It is perhaps because they were not deleted in a regular way. I had no idea that these personal folder are so vulnerable. In an instance you loose everything. Is there anyway we can protect them from the inadvertent moving? At least a lesson is learned.

Thank you again.
Ahmed
 
Ahmed,

I'm not sure what may have caused the issue with you Downloads folder, but the best protection for your files would be to keep a backup copy of the files that you do not want to lose on another HDD or partition.
 
Shadow explorer doesn't look for deleted files it shows your Volume Shadow Copy
a copy of your files that Vista records at set intervals. It would be your best option.
 
I think, i need "Option Three" as mentioned above ...

But i cannot find "Option Three" - only "Option One" and "Option Two".

What am i doing wrong? :-O

Maybe i try describe my problem :)

I changed the location of several such user folders - with success, mostly.

But the last time, i changed something, it went wrong.
I tried to fix that on my own before i discovered this phantastic forum and topic :D

Problem one:

Beside other problems, i am now missing the C:\Users\Downloads directory and the corresponding link in my Favorites.

Therefor, using "shell:downloads", opens nothing.

The registry entry contains:

{374DE290-123F-4565-9164-39C4925E467B}
%USERPROFILE%\Downloads

And i rebooted several times, including and excluding new logins.

But nothing changed so far.

Could anybody point me to the above mentioned "Option Three" that i cannot find in this whole topic.
Maybe it was deleted on accident?

Most interesting:

Out of frustration, i re-created the C:\Users\<USER>\Downloads directory - and suddendly, it HAD the "Location" tab!

Something that did not work previously.

Anyway, it still has one strange effect:

Changing the Location of that new directory to the real place where my downloads are sitting, it did not change the name of that real directory from "LATEST_DOWNLOADS" to "Downloads".

Regulary, when i change the location - for example for "My Music", it also changes the name of the target directory!
For example from "MY_MUSIC" to "My Music", the regular name.

This did NOT happen with this new "Downloads" folder - it still is named "LATEST_DOWNLOADS".

:-O


And even more interesing, even if i created a this new "Downloads" folder in C:\Users\<USER>, it is NOW missing!
Contrary to "Pictures", "Videos" and "Music", which DO exist there, even when they are now moved to a new location - the "original" folders are still there.
But not the "Downloads" folder!

I think, that may be related to the fact, that the above three folders are used as Libraries, while "Downloads" is just a "regular" folder?


Any idea?
 
The tutorial says:

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 THREE in this case instead.

But there is no Option Three. Did you mean to refer them to another tutorial like Personal User Shell Folders and/or Personal User Shell Folders - Move Location instead? I have someone in a thread stuck on this step and I suggested going to the first tutorial I posted here instead of ignoring it and just doing Option Two - but I'm not 100% certain if that's right.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.
 
Hello Lorien,

Sorry, I had missed that part when I updated the tutorial last. It should be for OPTION TWO in this tutorial instead. I had combined OPTION TWO and OPTION THREE when I updated it last to make it a more thorough option instead.
 
Hi Brink,

Thanks for the clarification. I've amended my reply in the other thread to provide the correct instruction.

He REALLY hosed his shell folders but good trying to move them like they were normal folders and then compounded the problem by creating new folders with the same name (but normal folders) and putting them where the shell folders were supposed to be and then moved all the contents. What a mess!!! Thank heavens for this and your several other tutorials on the subject which I'm certain will eventually resolve the problem.

EDIT: It solved his problem - and he wanted to thank you. Here's that post: http://www.vistax64.com/browsers-mail/285077-problem-contacts-cannot-opend-error-during-opening-windows-adressbook-file.html#post1300026.
 
Last edited:
Where do I start? Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I worked on this problem until 3am this morning. I gave up. System restore would not fix this problem about the multiple desktop folders. I could not get them to delete without makeing more folders, it was crazy. I was just about to use my 7 months old back up, when I found your web site. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Shawn; you tha man!!! (I am new and just incase your not a man, you know what I mean.)
 
Hey Brink,

It's almost been a year since the last post, so I hope you are still checking this thread. I am having a somewhat related issue. I moved My documents to a storage disk (my L drive) and now I am trying to get them restored to defaults, by right clicking on Documents in the start menu and going to Properties/Location tab but when I try to do so, I get an error that reads "Failed to build the list of regular subfolders under “L:\System Volume Information” Access is denied." Any idea how to get around this? Would manually changing the reg paths for Documents, Music, Pictures, etc...move all the files with it? Would I encounter permissions problems when trying to edit the registry? I am the administrator account, so I am not sure why I am encountering permission problems to begin with. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
Hello Rsibs, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Using OPTION TWO in the tutorial would be your better choice to restore your Documents folder. If you get a access denied message while doing it, then take ownership of the Documents folder on your L drive, and set it's permission settings to "Allow" your user account "Full Control". Afterwards, try OPTION TWO again. :)

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
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