Saturday, August 19, 2017

Where is the "My Documents" Folder Actually Stored in Windows 7?

It is not under C:\Users\clayton\Documents.  There is a C:\Users\clayton\My Documents folder, but it is empty.  Nor do subfolders of it appear when I search C: from Windows Explorer.

According to Windows Explorer, Libraries->Documents->My Documents
Documents has a folder teaching which it claims is in C:\users\Clayton\Documents.  This folder contains many others.  In the command shell, C:\users\Clayton\Documents\teaching contains only one folder.

If I open C:\users\clayton in Windows Explorer, it shows My Documents folder, but in the command shell, it is not there.  I know that My Documents actually points to C:\Users\clayton\Documents, but why cannot I see the folders there in the command shell?

Curiously, folders that appear in C:\Users\clayton\Documents through the command shell have a clearly visible folder icon, while the missing ones have a faded folder icon.

My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos are all where you would expect them.

If you came here looking for a solution: the folders and files in Windows Explorer that have dimmed out icons are hidden.  They are therefore invisible in the shell.  Use properties to change the hidden attribute.


  1. I just went to my Documents folder and clicked on the up arrow immediately to the left of the path display box. This took me to a folder called "This PC" which displayed a number of folders, including "Documents". I right-clicked on the "Documents" folder, and selected "Properties".

    One of the properties is "Location", which in my case is C:\Users\Karl.

    See what yours lists.

  2. I hate the whole windows user file system. It should allow these folders to be placed on a drive other than "C" - if the drive fails and needs windows reinstalled all documents can be lost. It would make a lot more sense to put the data on a different drive than system and software files.

  3. Location is C:\Users\clayton. When I go there in my command shell, I can see the folder. But it only contains one folder, not the several folders and files that appear in My Documents in Windows Explorer. Is this some odd form of symbolic link?

  4. Figured it out. Most of these files and directories are hidden, so my backup script cannot see them.

  5. Hidden explains a lot. Happy backuping!

  6. Karl: You can move these.