[4 Methods]Change Default Program Files Installation Directory Location

If you want to change default program files installation directory location, don’t miss this tutorial. We’ll share 5 effective methods to do it.


By Tina / Updated on May 12, 2023

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Why change default program files installation directory location?

In Windows OS, there is a Program Files folder in the C drive. It stores files related to installed programs, ensuring the relevance of programs to Windows systems. The 32-bit software is stored in the Program Files (x86) folder, and the 64-bit programs are stored in the Program Files folder.

Program files folder

C drive refers to the system drive, its health condition determines the working efficiency of the PC. However, since the downloaded program files are stored in the Program Files folder of the C drive by default, they take up much space. The C drive starts to become full, which causes the PC slows down.

If the space on the C drive is not released in time, there may even be trouble such as blue screen and computer freezes. So some users want to change default program files installation directory location.

How to change default program files installation directory location

In the following part, we will share 4 methods to change default program files installation directory location in Windows 10.

▶ Method 1. Change the default files location though Setting

Windows Settings has many useful functions, including cleaning up the PC, changing the default storage path of files, etc. Please follow the steps below to change default program files installation directory location.

Step 1. Click the "Start" button and click "Settings", then click "System", "Storage" and "Where new content is saved" in order.

Setting Where New Content Is Saved

Step 2. Click the drop-down menu and choose another drive to save new programs and applications.

Change Documents Drive

▶ Method 2. Change the location of program files with CMD

CMD is a commonly used built-in tool in Windows, it has functions such as resizing partitions and formatting partitions. You can also use it to change the location of program files.

Step 1. Copy the folder of Program Files and Program Files(X86) from the C drive to the D drive. Then press "Windows" and type "cmd", click "Run as Administrator" to open it.

Step 2. In the CMD window, input "mklink" and press "Enter". Then type "mklink /D "Program Files" "D: Program Files" " and press "Enter".


▶ Method 3. Change file storage location in File Explorer

File Explorer is a resource managing tool for Windows, it shows all file resources of this PC. Because of its tree-shaped file system structure, you can check the files and folders more clearly. Besides, it also supports changing default program files installation directory location in Windows PC.

Step 1. Input "file explorer" in the Start search bar, and click "Open". Then, right-click on the "Downloads" folder, and click "Properties".


Step 2. In the new popped window, click the "Location" button.


Step 3. Click "Move" to change default program files installation directory location, and click "Apply".

Apply Location

Step 4. You will be asked "Do you want to move all the files from the old location to the new location", click "Yes".

Move Yes

▶ Method 4. Change the default file storage location in Registry Editor

The Windows registry is a PC database, it stores important data including configuration and status information about the PC, applications, etc. The steps to change the default file location are as follows:

Step 1. Press "Windows + R", then input "regedit.exe" and press "Enter".


Step 2. You should find out the path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders.


Step 3. Find the data named by "%USERPROFILE%\Downloads", then click it.


Step 4. Under the "Value data" option, you can change default program files installation directory location, then click "OK".

Value Data

A better way to change default program files installation directory location

There is also a more functional hard disk manager - AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. It can also change the storage location of various folders in a few simple clicks.

It can not only change default program files installation directory location in Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP, but also move programs to another drive without losing data.

If you want to further optimize your hard drive, its Disk Defreg (for HDD), Partition Alignment (for SSD), Delete large files, Migrate OS to SSD can help you.

Download Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

This operation only supports moving folders on NTFS drives to NTFS or FAT32 drives. If the current drive is a FAT32 drive, please convert to NTFS first.
The entire "Program files" folder cannot be moved, but all sub-folders and folders on it can be transferred.

Step 1. Download and install AOMEI, then click "Free up" and "APP Mover".

App Mover

Step 2. You can move the following items: "App Mover" and "Move folders". Here, choose "Move folders". In a new window, click "Add Folders" and double-click the "Program files" folder, then select the sub-folders of it.

Move Folder

Step 3. In the new window, choose the folder you want to move. Then select the new drive and click "Move". 

Select Destination Drive

Step 4. There'll be a popped out warning about forcibly closing running applications in the folder moving process, then click "OK".


Step 5. Click "Finish" when the task is finished.


Tip: If you want to change default program files installation directory location on Windows Server, you can turn to the Server Version.

✦ Bonus: Allocate free space to the C drive

When you encounter the "C drive is full, D drive empty" issue, you can use the "Allocate free space" to move free space from D drive (or other drives) to the C drive.

Step 1. In the main interface, right-click the D drive or other drives with much free space.

Allocate Free Space

Step 2. You will be asked to choose the size and target partition, then click "OK".

Click OK

Step 3. Click "Apply" to extend the space of the C drive.



In the post, we have shared 5 tips to change default program files installation directory location. In addition, we also share the way to extend the free space of the C drive. If you want to enjoy more advanced functions, please try to use AOMEI Partition Assistant.

Tina · Staff Editor
Tina is an English editor of AOMEI Technology. She has a positive attitude and full of energy. On her work, she always keeps thinking to figure out the solutions for users' problems, and writes the answers so that can help someone. In her daily life, she likes to sing, watch TV and sleep. She always being grateful and happy to all the things happened and all the people encountered.