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What is my document folder?

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My Documents is the commonly recognized name of a special folder in Microsoft Windows (even though starting with Windows Vista, it is called Documents only, and the actual name of the folder might be different when the language of the installed copy of Windows is not English.) This folder is supposed to be a personal area where users store their personal non-shared documents. However, many software developers have ignored this convention and as a result, this folder has become a dumping ground for the application data such as files containing settings and saved games. Users cannot delete, move or organize these files without causing unwanted behavior in their software.

Until Windows XP, it contained other subfolders such as "My Pictures", "My Music" and "My Videos". Starting with Windows Vista, these subfolders were moved out of My Documents and were made its siblings.


Microsoft first introduced the "My Documents" folder in Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2, as a standard location for storing user-created files. The folder, located under the root directory of the boot volume. A shortcut to it is displayed directly on the user's desktop.

The Windows NT family of operating systems set up the "My Documents" folder in the user's profile folder. In Windows XP and earlier, the path is \Documents and Settings\[user name]\My Documents\ (alias %USERPROFILE%\My Documents\) on boot volume. A user can later change the physical location of "My Documents".[1] However, "My Documents" in Windows Explorer (and file dialog boxes) doesn't appear as an absolute path. In addition to translation, the display name of the folder might change depending on owner of the folder. For example, if a user who has logged on to Windows XP and later with user account A look at the personal folders of user account B via Windows Explorer, instead of "My Documents", he sees "B's Documents". This customization is achieved using desktop.ini file.[2][3]

Windows Vista makes a lot of changes to this folder. Dropping "My" in its name, it is stored in \Users\[user name]\Documents regardless of the Windows language. Windows Explorer, however, shows a different display name for it, depending on the chosen language. For instance, an English copy of Windows shows "My Documents", a French copy shows "Mes documents" and a German copy shows "Eigene Dokumente" (changed from "Eigene Dateien" in Windows XP). Additionally, "My Pictures", "My Music" and "My Videos" are not longer stored in it; they are now called "Pictures", "Music" and "Video" and are now its siblings
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