Path to all users desktop and start menu in Windows 7

All users desktop:
C:\Users\Public\Desktop\

All users start menu:
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\

49 Comments

  1. Hasan says:

    Make sure Show hidden files is selected under Tools, Folder Options, View.

    Then it is located at:

    C:\Users\Public\Default\Desktop

  2. junk advice says:

    Wonder how many man hours of productivity is being wasted trying to deconstruct the Windows7 interface by people who could find absolutely nothing wrong with XP. What a total waste of time to rename functions and then shuffle them around in the interface so that people have great difficulty using them.

    Windows7 is all pain and no gain what so ever. Perhaps if i had no other demands it would be fun to figure this out but MOST of us being forced to Windows7 have plenty else to do. No wonder Gates retired. With XP it was done.

  3. junkbeater says:

    Junk: Are you kidding? XP sucks! Granted, it was better than some of the other Microsoft OSes out there, but it was far from perfect. Sorry you feel you are being ‘forced’ to use Windows 7… just like you are ‘forced’ to use a new cell phone, new vehicle, or anything else with new technology. Get with the times!

  4. Musqueteer says:

    You need to set View Hidden Files and Folders
    The All Users Desktop is found at:

    C:\Users\Public\Desktop\

    The default desktop is for default user, the profile copied when no local profile exists of the user logging on

    Thanks for the post!

  5. CPDnetadmin says:

    Thanks Musqueteer and Hasan for your help. And thanks junkbeater for…. not being any help at all.

  6. josiah says:

    hey all, i have a quick question, is it possible to pin something to the task bar for all users?

  7. Bob says:

    Thanks guys for pointing the way. Very helpful
    It is strange that Ms should rename OS functions and then shuffle them around in the interface for Win7 so that people have great difficulty using them. It is best they stay away from motoring. Most of us are happy knowing where the controls are and what they do. Lol

  8. MooneShadow says:

    I love windows 7!
    Yeah its a new challenge but then thats what keeps us going in life. Challenges. WE overcome and learn new things. There will be days that are tough but id rather have that then an easy boring life of the same thing over and over again.

    Thank you for the info, very helpful.

  9. Neon Splatter says:

    junkbeater,

    You are a retarded troll. He said THE INTERFACE…. not XP. Moving All Documents to Users, and All Users to Public is what he was complaining about.

  10. N!D says:

    My 2 penneth. Have they sorted out global users yet? Can I install a network printer to everybody, without deleting all their profiles and copy mine to Default. Seems to me that they havn’t messed with the interface enough.

  11. EK says:

    N!D

    This is pretty simple to do now with group policy preferences. Have a look here:

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/winserverGP/thread/60677856-af51-4e02-b767-28851d90e901

    I was of the understanding that you cannot copy NTuser.dat to DefaultUser any more with Win 7. Happy to be proven wrong though.

  12. missingxtension says:

    New doesn’t mean better…
    A new low end cellphone does not equal better than a premium cellphone from 3-4 years ago.
    whats the point of new if it doesnt meet your needs?

  13. ddeus says:

    While the folder structer in Windows Explorer says that the name is “Public Desktop,” the actual directory is “C:\users\public\desktop”

    Make sure you notate this, as batch files and such that point to “C:\users\public\public desktop” will NOT work.

  14. IT_tech says:

    To junkbeater:
    Maybe XP is far from perfect, but Win 7 is even further. It’s such a pain! The more I use it, the more I hate it. It’s just a glitterring piece of junk.

  15. CIO says:

    I agree – Win7 should never have been rolled out. I have mandated that we use Windows 3.11 at my company and it meets our needs perfectly. If everyone would stop clamoring for more eye candy and just use the OS for what it was intented, we would never have to buy a new OS, or learn anything about new technology again.

    Then we could get back to the business of business – that is, making money and not wasting money and time on these new OSes that do nothing for us.

  16. Bill says:

    Thanks Daniel

  17. John Q. Public says:

    I think Windows 7 is okay, but I agree that there does not seem to be a point to MS’s moving items around to different menus and directories. It adds nothing to the user experience, and even detracts from the experience to the vast majority of their customers, and is certainly NOT an example of “new technology.”

    As an aside, I think Office 2007 and Office 2010 are even worse in this regard…far worse.

  18. James says:

    All in all, you are all a little bit right.. XP needed to go.. it had glaring security issues and it was getting long in the tooth, but at the same time why in the hell did we need to change all that stuff.. Absolutely unneeded and better have a damn good reason it changed. I do nothing but os support EVERYDAY and what a pain it is to ask the “what os are you using, then have the client now have a clue what I am talking about, and the reason I have to ask is because if I want them to say run cmd I have to say click “start”, noo noo the button that used to say start, you mean the circle button with no freaking name that seems to control everything on my computer.. (yea that start) click run.. ohh yea you mean “start search” oohh I meant “search programs and files” WTF why do I need to remember all those steps. and don’t tell me to just have them type the windows button and r (I know that works but that is not the point)

  19. Jon says:

    Heres a more exact way to find the all users desktop location in Windows 7
    Windows 7 by default hides the folder C:\users\Public Desktop (This is what you want).

    By Default you only see C:\users\Public You won’t see anything in it.
    To see C:\users\Public Desktop go to c:\users\public Press Organize, Folder and Search Options, View, Show hidden files, folders and drives Now look back in c:\users\Public and you’ll see “Public Desktop” Throw whatever files, icons etc for all your users in it.

  20. Phydeux says:

    @James: They actually changed the paths for a few reasons. The “Documents and Settings” portion made for some very long and ugly paths, especially if you were putting things on CD and it put you over the 256 character limit for a path. Not to mention “Users” is a lot more friendly to legacy applications that don’t support long file names.

    But it also brings the file structure more in line with *nix operating systems. So Win7 plays better with Linux distros on dual-boot machines and makes finding files you want to share between OSes (like music and videos) that much easier to find.

    And realistically, the only reason any of you are whining about “who moved my cheese” is because you’re accustomed to how its been for 10 years plus. To people who are just starting out in the IT world, this will be the defacto standard of “where things ought to be”. If you worked in multiple OSes like Windows, Linux, Apple, and Solaris the way I do, you become more flexible about file structure design.

  21. Solarstar says:

    So what about C:\Users\All Users\Desktop ?

  22. JJ says:

    Ok lets see if i dont mix all this sh*t up
    (before you start you need to enable the view of the hidden files under Organize\ Folder and Search Options\ View\ Hidden files\Show hidden files, folders and drives)

    all users desktop is at C:\users\public\public desktop
    all users start menu is at C:\programdata\microsoft\windows\start menu

    user desktop is at C:\users\”user account name”\desktop
    user start menu is at C:\users\”user account name”\appdata\roaming\microsoft\windows\start menu

    user account pictures is at C:\programdata\microsoft\user account pictures

    wallpapers are at C:\windows\web\wallpaper

    Hope i helped in any way, please correct me if something is wrong.
    Alergic to VISTA (hate it actually), kind of hopeful and still enjoying 7 and very fond of XP

  23. nescient says:

    @JJ Thanks! Your post cleared up quite a few questions for me =)

  24. Mikehara says:

    Ok. I just finished updating a database file on 17 PC’s I manage and what is confusing is some of the W7 PC’s still have public desktop under all users\desktop folder. I like 7 but they need to be consistent.

  25. Kuko says:

    A lot of un-necessary steps.
    Open explorer.
    Navigate to C:\users\public
    click on the address bar of explorer
    click the right arrow to put your curor at the end of the path
    type “\desktop” (that’s right, you don’t even have to type ‘\public desktop’!)
    Hit enter
    Your explorer is now at c:\users\public\public desktop and showing it’s contents!
    It’s hidden, not in-accessable.
    Pro tip; after you type it once, just down arrow (to show your history) after clicking on the address bar.

  26. BROCKKL says:

    junkbeater::: Maybe you don’t do this at work, but for some of us, we have to follow the policies and deadlines of some CxO, who knows nothing about the logistics of rolling out an OS nationwide. So we are FORCED to install something that has nice eye candy, but internally is hosed. I happen to prefer Win7 over XP, but it’s a steep learning curve to keep thousands of machines going when M$ continually mixes things up.
    So instead of “getting with the times”, maybe you should get out of the basement and get a job. See, we can make asinine assumptions just as well as you can.

  27. junk beater beater says:

    Yeah, Vista, win7, office 2007+, win8, all suck because of the GUI.
    I agree with the majority of windows users who think that these changes are all horrible and result and much wasted man hours. not only that, these new GUI’s are freakin slow. XP’s interface is clean cut, responsive/fast and will forever be the best.

    It’s too bad MSFT hasn’t been able to separate the OS with the interface. imagine a secure/new improved Win version with the usable GUI like XP or win2k? that would be gold.
    wait until you guys use windows 8 and 2k12. oo boy!

  28. IT Lord says:

    Wow! What a bunch of whiners! W7 is the best product Microsoft has out to date. I understand non-IT folk having difficulties as everyone like familiarity.

    I don’t understand the IT people crying about it. I have worked in IT for 10 years and this is the best product MS has put out in terms of manageability and automation. Perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong field.

    @BROCKKL – Really? Are you 70 years old or something? XP’s interface clean? responsive/fast? bwahahahahahaha!

  29. wingernew3 says:

    I have to agree with IT Lord. I dont believe any of these so called techs are really employeed in IT in any company of size. I just finished a 7000 desktop international rollout of Windows 7 and it was the easiest I have ever done. The users are happy, management is happy, the support center is very happy. After supporting XP and before that 3.11 on this many desktops in 3 languages, Windows 7 is a dream.

  30. digilla says:

    In case anyone is interested, here is the path to the folder that contains all the shortcuts that are pinned to the Start Menu:

    C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\StartMenu

  31. Nick Bushell says:

    At some point during our working lives, we lose the ability and motivation to learn more new things just for the sake of it. There are many in this thread that seem to be in the same position as me – our familiarity with Windows XP, VB 6 and DOS, make them powerful tools in our work and invention. To have to learn new tools just because a super power stops supporting a platform or OS, becomes tedious. Of course there are benefits of the new, and problems with the old, but we are experts in the old. Don’t underestimate our expertise. In some years time, those who love the current new will be frustrated that they too have become old, and find some change tedious instead of inspiring…

  32. Rhiannon B says:

    “IT Lord” you’re missing the point entirely. People who are a one-person-fits all SysAdmins like myself who have to manage highly complex networks with multitiudes of OSs in production environments both locally and in datacenters across the nation in addition to end-user support find it hard to swallow every little upgrade to Windows requiring re-writing of automation and support scripts and trying to figure out where MS has hidden this or that in the name of progress just so we can perform a simple task. It makes it way harder to support end users when things jump around all the time. I can’t delegate – it’s on me and many times results in 70-hour weeks just to keep up. I don’t need this extra hassle. I’ve supported every version of Windows, DOS and Office that has ever been released, as well as pretty much every server and desktop operating system used in a networked environment over the past 25 years and nobody does this with the frequency Microsoft does. If my IBM AIX or HP-UX servers moved the underlying file structure around every flipping time I updated an OS version I think I’d jump off a bridge. Find something *simple* and stick to it, please. There’s no need to embed things so deep like they do (C:\users\”user account name”\appdata\roaming\microsoft\windows\start menu – really?? couldn’t just be \users\account\startmenu or something???).

    I learn new OSs just fine, it’s just pointless just to fiddle for fiddle sake. Not to mention to over-bloated GUI as has been mentioned here, and Win7′s inability to multi-task properly without freezing the entire screen every time you open a new app (which XP seemed to handle much more elegantly).

    If we weren’t tied into an entirely MS-centric world, I would have definitely left the fold long ago.

  33. T. Dicky says:

    All of you have valid points so lets bring back W2K desktop & server!!!! Everything since then has been garbage – just MS folks trying to justify their existance.

    Just like all of the software vendors going to new version releases on ever shorter cycles and wanting to auto update everything constantly. Not on my watch – I disable that nonsense every chance I get.

  34. Steve Sybesma says:

    Windows 7 was made to look different so you think you’re getting something better.

    The days of actually having major, landmark improvements in Windows OSes are long gone…most changes are really cosmetic…when will people finally wise up and stop thinking they have to buy everything M$ puts out…they’re charging a lot more for a lot less these days. In the Windows 3.0/3.1 days, you were getting something a world different from the previous OS…same thing with Windows 95/98 and then XP…after 2002, the major improvements died…Windows can’t make a home automation/home robot based OS yet, because that technology hasn’t arrived in force yet so that’s what the world is waiting for…when you see everyone controlling everything that happens at home remotely and has a robot that can handle every task, Windows will have a reason for a major upgrade.

  35. Eurik says:

    all users desktop is at C:\users\public\public desktop
    all users start menu is at C:\programdata\microsoft\windows\start menu
    user desktop is at C:\users\”user account name”\desktop
    user start menu is at C:\users\”user account name”\appdata\roaming\microsoft\windows\start menu
    user account pictures is at C:\programdata\microsoft\user account pictures
    wallpapers are at C:\windows\web\wallpaper

    Seriously? How fucked up is that? Why can’t it follow at least a remotely logical tree structure? Even on bloody Linux which is supposed to be ‘complicated’ all these are in the

  36. Eurik says:

    all users desktop is at C:\users\public\public desktop
    all users start menu is at C:\programdata\microsoft\windows\start menu
    user desktop is at C:\users\”user account name”\desktop
    user start menu is at C:\users\”user account name”\appdata\roaming\microsoft\windows\start menu
    user account pictures is at C:\programdata\microsoft\user account pictures
    wallpapers are at C:\windows\web\wallpaper

    Seriously? How fucked up is that? Why can’t it follow at least a remotely logical tree structure? Even on bloody Linux which is supposed to be ‘complicated’ all these are in the home folder.

  37. Alderin says:

    What I miss is the easy ways to get to settings. I wouldn’t mind them moving things around nearly so much if they’d just leave the easy way to get to them intact. Edit start menu contents?
    XP: As Administrator, right click the start button, select “Explore All Users”. Paste shortcuts in folder, they show on all user’s Start Menus.
    W7: Click Start, Computer, open C drive, dig until you finally find a folder that mentions Start Menu, add something, realize it isn’t the right place, keep digging, give up, Google it, finally find a reference to “C:\ProgramData” that never existed before and doesn’t seem to relate to User profiles or UI at all, AND is hidden, add something, it still doesn’t show up in the Start Menu, because of all the other “Default Programs”, and it isn’t “Pinned”. Dig more, find “C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\StartMenu”, but there would need to be a script run to make this happen for all users. In short: Forget about giving users the same simple XP Start Menu interface, and prepare for the inevitable support calls when they can’t find the programs.

    XP: Open My Computer, Click Tools->Folder Options, go to View Tab, Select Show hidden files and folders, Uncheck Hide Extensions for known file types. Ok, done.
    WW7: View->Folder Options doesn’t exist until you go into the Control Panel, open the Folder Options widget, and under the View tab check “Always Show Menus”. THEN you can use the Tools menu from Computer. As often as I show and re-hide Protected Operating System Files, this is a little bit frustrating.

    (Petty, but it bugs me)
    XP: (and all between 95 and XP) Add/Remove Programs
    Vista/W7: Programs and Features

    XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu
    W7: C:\users\public\public desktop
    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu (ONLY under “All Programs”)
    C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\StartMenu (Pinned, supposedly, but there is also a Registry component to make it work).

    I’m the full time person of a two person IT department supporting 20 servers and 120 users across 3 locations. These changes between XP and W7 are nonsensical, and either generate a huge amount of work for me, or a huge amount of adjustment for my users (which makes for a huge amount of work for me, just on the other side of deployment).

    Microsoft claims that they made these changes to prevent Installation Programs from spamming these locations, a problem I’ve never had nor heard of anyone having. It is like they uninstalled the power windows and put in a tiny hard-to-use handle because open car windows can let in bees that could kill the driver, removed the cruise control because if the driver isn’t paying attention they could rear-end someone, and then charged a premium for making the car “safer” and claiming “it’s better this way”.

    Yes, I’m whining, because I can already hear all of the “How do I get to application X?” and “Where is the icon for Y?” and “Person Z claims they couldn’t get their work done because they spent too much time looking for the things you changed”. Inefficient for my users and a poor use of my time, all because Microsoft had to “fix” something that was not broken.

  38. Windows Expert says:

    to whom who think that they are clever and comment about the new Windows like it is the best, like expert and person who know exactly the story of development of the OS, Windows XP is the best operating System which Microsoft ever made.
    do not tell me about how you can use windows 7 , windows 8 or any other windows,
    i agree many things changed and made some features more easy but they destroy the XP with it, and this is the most stupid behaviour of MS.
    MS did alway the same and with it they made big mistake,
    instead of continue development of XP and make from it better funktion like in windows 7 they began from old windows NT, and from it they began to make development.. … Windows 7 is nothing than correction of really bad worst Vista.

    in the story of MS, the first big step was bringing windows 95, and after that they make it better with windows 98, at the same time they made the NT and correct it with windows 2000.
    when windows millinium came it was more worst and with much trouble, most of people began to hate MS, for this reason they puted windows XP on markt, which was not ready yet , which is mix between windows 2000 and Win98

    and it is the most stable operating system at all.. after that they began to think about stupid vista, and it was the second mistake… and again after vista appeared they found which mistake is it, and for this reason they tried to correct vista and delete something so that it could be more stable and they puted windows 7 on the markt.. .. it is true windows 7 better than vista, but not better than xp, it has new functions, support new hardware and some of methode in copy and connect to internet is more better, but the basic is not good like in XP.
    they deleted windows mail and outlook expess, although still folder there with name windows mail, they changed the defragment programm to stupid one.
    even the way of sharing is began to be more horrible.

    windows 7 could be really one of the best if they continue windows xp and puted the new features in it, but as i said , because the people there stupid and has stupid imagination they did like usually this mistake..

    now windows 8 , such stupid operating system for Desktop , if you do not have touchscreen then it is stupid to buy windows 8.
    1. effects and visual is really more bad and horrible then 7
    2. they deleted the Start button from desktop, such a stupid step,
    3. they think it is easy to use even for children which is more difficult specially for people who used long time windows, i know many people after buying it they go to downgrade to other OS,
    4. there is only 2 things good in windows 8 , nothing else :
    a) the copieng of files is with more details and even you can see diagram for it.
    b) the Taskmanager is more powerful, with more details about process and even with diagrams.
    but everything else is not really better, even those people who said that it is more faster in boot time, just not for all Pcs, some of them there is no different.

    stop to say that windows 7 , windows 8 or any other windows better than Xp if you do not know how windows is, … only because you are using it and see many effects or many things which for you easy to use does not mean that the OS is really better…
    by the way.. MS making with update of XP manytimes mistakes and with it began to make this OS more worst than before… these updates solved some problems but making other problems, and i do not know, if they do this with reason or because they are stupid like usually.

  39. Windows Expert says:

    one more proof is that MS make windows 7 able to have XP mode, it is only because they know it is still important for people for much compatibility.
    in the story of MS there was no such step before.
    other good things which was in Xp and missing in all new OS.
    the recovery methode , which keep the programm working .
    in windows xp was able to repair the windows if somehting happened and all programm will work again.. , i mean in repair methode, is similar to new install but not clean install.
    windows 7 and 8 and vista they had repair on boot to see if there is problem in booting or in hardware, but not like windows xp which allow me to install windows again without loosing programms or any thing.. in case i must reinstall Windows 7 i will loose every thing, of course i can try to save my datas and documents before but i will loose all installed programm and activations of programms.. there is no possibility for the same recovery which came wiht XP.

  40. 2Freaking Busy says:

    I agree with the general consensus here… There was no need for MS to totally screw up the file system.
    Does anyone know where the start panel items like control panel, devices and printers, etc are located.?

  41. Ken Wood says:

    The need was profit. Thank my good friend – capitalism.

    Also, if you hate Windows 7, two words – Windows 8.

  42. Prashaant says:

    i want to change my start button icon

  43. Win7 FTW says:

    For those of you complaining about Windows 7, either stay on XP or switch to 7. Don’t come crying to me though when vendors won’t help you with support because you are still using XP.

    Suck it up and change with the times.

  44. ITGuy says:

    “W7: View->Folder Options doesn’t exist until you go into the Control Panel”

    Great example. Folder options can be accessed from any Explorer window. Try hitting the “Alt” key … KAZOW! Menu bar!

    Ignorance is the reason people just can’t let go of XP. Stop whining and learn something new. Progress happens. You either progress along with it, or get left behind. Whining changes nothing.

  45. vicky says:

    thanks

  46. Ste says:

    Great comments.

    Seems like what we need now is Windows 9 – with the GUI of XP and the improved functionality of W7 (or call it W7 lite)

  47. Microsoft Arrogance says:

    Microsoft = change for no reason. Breaking user familiarity every 16 months. Just got used to it? Feeling productive? Too bad, we’re “changin’” it AGAIN. Every Micro$$$oft employee should have the controls in their cars and homes CHANGED THE @#$% ALL AROUND FOR NO REASON every 10 months. Software used to be about engineering and quality first, now it’s MONEY, quality fifth and make it all “fancy”. This criticism includes mozilla and google too. It’s just a matter of time before enough people realize that oops, quality is supposed to be #1 and #2 familiarity allows us to be productive.

  48. Leeman says:

    ” You either progress along with it, or get left behind. Whining changes nothing.”

    Whining changed a lot. How many times was XP’s end-of-life extended? I think the answer says it all.

    The answer here is so simple too…MS, innovate and redecorate to your hearts’ content under the hood, almost nobody’s against that, but please allow the UI to be customized, and with all the billions of man hours you waste on “theme-packs” and other business-useless junk, you can give us the “Classic UI”.

    Ahh…but then there’s little need for recertification (fees) and online course (fees) and learning material (fees) on-site training (fees). The 3-ring binder industry would be devastated!

  49. GreyWolf says:

    Simple solution, install XP and don’t use Win7/8.

    Yes they could make the paths shorter and easier to find, big deal. Create a shortcut on your desktop or on a USB and you only have to double click it to open the desired folder, it isn’t rocket science.

    All you people talk about having jobs with big I.T companies yet many of you can’t spell simple words, get back to class and stop making out you are something you are not.

    Vista/Win7 had some immense security changes which could not be achieved on XP. These vulnerabilities required some sections of the kernel to be rewritten and some portions of the directory structure be tied to registry keys to ensure malicious software was not exploiting a section of the drive used by Windows.

    As many users including techs just install everything then throw blame to Microsoft for their stupidity saying that it should never have been designed that way…

    …remember hindsight is 20/20 but no one can predict the future

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