How to Change the Default Save Location in Windows

Featured image depicting the change of default save locations by file types in Windows courtesy Unsplash.

Tired of your downloads taking up all the space in an important folder? Windows saves files to preset folders like Downloads and Documents, but you’re in control here. For instance, if you’re building a video library, you can alter the save settings so that any newly created video file always goes to a folder designated for that purpose. Follow the simple methods in this guide to change the default save location in Windows for different file types.

1. Using Advanced Storage Settings

One of the best ways to change the default save location in Windows is to tweak the advanced storage settings for different content types. No matter if it’s a music file, Word document or a screenshot image, you can assign a separate and dedicated storage drive to each one of them.

In Windows 11, open Settings -> System -> Storage -> Storage management -> Advanced storage settings -> Where new content is saved. For Windows 10, the path is Settings -> System -> Storage -> Change where new content is saved. You may also go to Default save locations via Windows Search.

Changing the default save location for apps, photos and videos based on where new content is saved.

Find the default save location for new apps, documents, music, photos and videos (including screenshots), movies and TV shows, and offline maps. Change the old location to the one in which you plan to save your files, then click Apply to save then change. The saved files will be saved to the new destination.

Tip: is “where new content is saved” not working for your destination drive? You may have forgotten to turn off the WindowsApps folder in it.

2. Using File Explorer

The Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Pictures, and Videos folders are primary save locations on your Windows device. Collectively, they’re known as Windows folders. Their job is to receive the bulk of anything you want to save or download on your PC. However, you can change where the files in these folders are stored to another place on the hard drive, including hidden folders.

You will need to modify the File Explorer settings in advance, as shown here. Go to the Quick Access menu, and select a folder that you no longer want used as a destination folder. We have selected the Downloads folder. Right-click to view its Properties.

Right-clicking the Downloads folder in Quick Access menu to select its Properties.

A new pop-up window opens, displaying the folder’s properties. Navigate to the Location tab, and select the folder path that you want to replace as a destination folder. Click on the Find Target menu, and a new File Explorer window will open. Select your destination folder. In this example, it is My Documents.

Click Apply and OK to confirm. In the future, when you save or download any file types, be it music, videos, or documents, they will go to the folder you created, rather than the default folders.

Downloads folders default save location changed to

Note: to download anything via installed apps to various PC locations, you need to have its setting enabled first. Go to Downloads folder privacy settings via Settings -> Privacy & security -> Downloads folder. Turn on Let apps access your downloads folder.

3. Using Registry Editor

You can also use Windows Registry Editor to modify the default Windows download/save location. Just remember to make a registry backup first.

Open the Registry Editor from the Run command, Win + R, by typing regedit.exe, then navigate to the following path:

Computer/HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

Right-click on the panel on the right, and create a new string called “Data,” using New -> String value. If it’s already there, you don’t need to create the string again.

Double-click on the string to open a new pop-up, Edit string. Copy your destination folder location, and paste it into Value data. Click OK to confirm.

Value data entry changed location in Registry Editor.

Tip: is your Registry not working properly? If it’s time to clean up the registry files, we have the best solutions.

So far, we have seen a number of built-in Windows methods to change the default folder location. The above methods, however, won’t work with specific file extensions, such as .pdf, .doc, .jpg, and .mp4. That’s where some external software applications can help.

Free Download Manager is one of the best tools to customize your Windows folder downloads by file extensions. It’s available through both Microsoft Store and a regular stable installer, and also supports Mac and Linux.

Open the app after installation, and go to Preferences -> General -> Default download folder from the three-bar menu on top. Select the Choose default download folder automatically option, and check the box next to Suggest folders based on file type. Click OK to save these changes.

Default Save Location Free Download Manager Suggest Folders File Types

Next time you need to save or download a specific file type, click the “+” button. This example shows how to download documents with a .pdf file extension. But you can use the same method for any other file extension.

Copy the File name URL, which can be from a browser or your own File Explorer. Click the three-dot icon to save to a destination folder of your choice. This example is saving to My Documents. Click Download and the file extension type will download to the assigned folder.

Downloading a PDF file to a folder of choice in Windows using Free Download Manager.

Apart from Free Download Manager, Internet Download Accelerator is another reliable app that lets you save files based on file and content types.

The Downloads folder is the default save location for most Windows files that you download online. However, based on file types, you can vary this location and change the default save location. Windows also lets you sort folders by their size, which will help you choose the right download location.

Image source: Unsplash. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.

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Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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