Personal User Shell Folders

How to Fix a Personal User Shell Folder Displayed as a Standard Yellow Folder Icon in Vista
If you open your personal user folder in the Start menu and the folder is displayed with a standard yellow folder icon instead of the special green folder icon, then this will show you how to fix it.
How to Fix a Personal User Shell Folder Displayed as a Standard Yellow Folder Icon in Vista

information   Information
If you open your personal user folder in the Start menu or from C:\Users\(user name), and a user folder has a standard yellow folder icon instead of the special green folder icon, then this will show you how to restore the green folder icon for that particular user folder.
Note   Note
This usually can occur when the desktop.ini file in the shell folder is missing or incorrect, or the user folder has no read only attribute set to it.

EXAMPLE: Special Green Personal User Profile Folder Icons

For the User Name Folder

NOTE: This is the User Name folder that appears in the Desktop folder tree view in Windows Explorer or the Start Menu.
1. Right click on a empty area of the desktop and click on Personalize.​
2. Click on Change desktop icons in the upper left corner. (See screenshot below)​

3. In the lower box, click on your User Name folder to highlight it in blue. (See screenshot below)​

4. Click on the Restore Default button. (See screenshot above)​
A) Click on Apply.​
NOTE: If it did not restore the default User Name folder icon, then proceed to step 5.​
B) Go to step 6.​

5. Click on the Change Icon button. (See screenshot below step 3)​
A) If not already in the top line, then click on the Browse button and browse to C:\Windows\system32\imageres.dll.​
B) Select the default User Name folder icon and click OK. (See highlighted in blue icon in the screenshot below)​

6. Click on OK. (See screenshot below step 3)​

For the User Folders in the User Name Folder

1. Verify that the user folder has it's correct default path in METHOD THREE here.​
Shell Command
2. Open the Start Menu.​
3. Type in the Shell command (see table below) for the Personal User folder and press Enter..​

User Folder

Shell Command














shell:My Music


shell:My Pictures

Saved Games





shell:My Video

4. This will open the personal user folder from it's location.​
5. Close the personal user folder window.​
6. Check to see if the personal user folder has turned back to the special green folder in the start menu.​
A) If yes, then your done.​
B) If not, proceed to STEP TWO below.​

Replace Desktop.ini File for User Folder
7. Have Show hidden files and folders dotted and Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) unchecked in Folder Options.​
NOTE: For how, see OPTION TWO here:How to Hide or Show Hidden Files and Folders in Vista
8. Click on the download button below to download the User file, then click on Save and save it to the Desktop.​

9. Right click on the User file (on Desktop) and click on Open.​
10. Extract the same folder(s) for your user folder name with the standard yellow icon displayed to the Desktop.​
11. Open the extracted folder and right click on the desktop.ini file and click Copy. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: This file is set as a hidden file. This is why it is faded.

12. Open the user folder that has the standard yellow folder icon displayed.​
A) Right click on a empty area in the folder's window and click Paste.​
NOTE: If you are asked if you want to replace the old desktop.ini file, then click Copy and Replace. (See screenshot below)
B) Repeat step 11 for each user folder you need to fix.​

13. Close all windows.​
15. If prompted, click on Continue in the UAC prompt.​
16. In the elevated command prompt, type the command below (see table below) for the user folder name you need to fix. (See screenshot below table)​
NOTE: This will set the user folder as Read-only. You can Copy and Paste these to make it easier for you.
WARNING: If you have changed the default location of your user folder, then you will need to type the full path of it's new location after attrib +r instead of the default %USERPROFILE% location below. For example, attrib +r D:\New location

User Folder



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Saved Games

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


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


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


17. Repeat step 16 for each user folder that you replaced the desktop.ini file for.​
18. Close the elevated command prompt.​
19. Restart the computer, or logoff and login again for the changes to take effect.​
20. Confirm that the folder icon is back to normal.​
21. You can now delete the downloaded folders on the desktop and set your hidden files and folders settings back to normal in step 7 above.​

That's it,

Last edited:
Shawn Brink


Hi Shawn,
I accidentally deleted my "My Music" shell folder, (consequently iTunes won't work) and i obviously no longer have the special blueish icon. However, under my user folder with all the other shell folders listed it has "Music" but it is just a shortcut to nothing.

I tried following your steps but can not view the hidden file you packaged in in the download. I also don't know if this will fix the problem as I currently don't have a "Music" shell folder. Are there different steps to recreating this folder, different to this thread which seems more like a repair of a shell folder?

Thanks in advance, I can provide screen shots if it'd help, and i'm a little concerned that I can't view the hidden file, even though I'm following your steps exactly.

Hi Henry,

Welcome to Vista Forums. :party:

In STEP TWO step 1, did you make sure that you changed both items on Folder Options? You will not see the hidden protected system file in the download unless you did. If you did, then try pressing F5 to refresh the screen to see if that reveals them.

I would like to see if replacing the Desktop.ini file will solve your problem before we proceed to a more involved solution.

Okay, I got the hidden items to work and placed it in the music folder etc and followed the rest of your steps. Upon restart, the arbitrary folder that i created called Music, now had the special blue icon, so i was happy, but it still isn't the same as the original Music folder. However, in my shell Henry, where the list of shell folders is (documents, music etc) there is an empty shortcut with no properties and can't be adjusted. It isn't even a folder, just a shortcut to nothing. This shortcut used to be the Music shell but now it is nothing.
Hi , i am not the sharpest knife in the draw when it comes to computers so i suspect i am doing something wrong , when i follow your instructions specifically to change my Music Folder back to the blue one it leaves it as the yellow folder but changes my desktop folder to the new music folder with the blue logo when i click it it opens as it should with desktop stuff , and the yellow folder for my music is still the same weird
can you shed any light

Cheers Dave
Think i have sorted it what i had to do was create a new folder in the same place as the rest don't name , cut and paste the thing from your zip folder into this, then cut and paste in my case the music folder in to the new folder that created a folder with the blue folder and icon then cut and paste it out of there back into the main folder area , it makes sense to me but i did work delete the old folder

Regards Dave
Hi! When all on a sudden the Downloads folder on my Vista Home Premium machine vanished to be replaced by a non-functional icon, I was worried. I could still access the folder through C:\Users\owner\downloads, but could not access it in Explorer from the cute icons. I did not expect to find a solution... Therefore, imagine my surprise and joy, when a Google search brought me to this website and the "Shell:downloads" command instantly brought back the folder to its original place. Thank you very much.

I still don't understand though, why it happened in the first place!!
Your welcome Suirauqa, and welcome to Vista Forums.

It could be from anything like a accidental deletion, dragging it into another folder, registry entry for it's location got changed somehow, etc.....

i have tried this and it goes fine until the cmd and i get 'parameter format not correct'.
i have typed the info in correctly.
this relates to the vieo folder.
Hi, I have a similar problem to this, but it has effected my "User" folder, instead of all the other folders covered in this. Can anyone help me? Thanks. Here's a picture to show you what I mean:
Hi, first post and as per suiraqa above this is a great forum as I too had problems with file relocations and icons.

I still have a problem with Documents if I relocate it to a hd partition. When I do this I just get a hd icon and can't change it back, also any programs with links that were in the documents folder can't redirect. Now if I redirect to a folder (for instance named data on the partition, say d:\ everything works ok.

Can you help with this as I would prefer to relocate to partitions on hd's. Interestingly I tried this for videos and it worked.

Sooo what is so different about the documents folder and redirection?

Any help appreciated.


Hi Harry,

The Documents folder can be a bit more tricky since a lot of programs, like Windows Live Messenger, may use it to place a folder in it. You will need to make sure that you change where the program places it's folder from it's settings before you can relocate the Documents folder. If the program does not have a setting to allow you to change where it places it's folder, then you cannot relocate Documents without getting a second yellow Documents folder. The only option then is to uninstall the program or leave Documents at it's default location.

Hope this helps,
Thanks Shawn, it sort of does help but.....

Why does a hd icon appear if a personal folder is relocated to a partition, Vista Help states they can be relocated to a partition or another folder. Seems to work ok when relocated to a folder but NOT a partition. Also many difficulties changing it back to default site location, I had to use SYSTEM RESTORE to get it back - keep getting a message that it could not rebuild file locations, and another, the file already exists but I couldn't see it. Is Vista 64 is a bit buggy in this regard, does the 32 bit version work any differently?

I would prefer to relocate documents, music etc to partitions on hd's as imo easier to manage but not useful if personal folder icons can't be retained. I guess my worst case is to just create folders in my drive partitions and redirect the personal folders to them, that seems to work ok, even other program links (utilising documents) seem to understand this as well.

Vista seems to offer quite a lot of new advantages but also more frustrations.

Thanks for you help and great reference site you guys have.


Last edited: