Windows – How to fix shell folders like “My Pictures” in Windows 7

windows 7windows-explorer

Because I cannot leave well enough alone, I have tried "tweaking" things in my copy of Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).

I prefer to have the folders for things such as documents, pictures, videos, et cetera on a large hard drive while keeping Windows itself on a smaller partition on another drive.

So after installing Windows I routinely relocate the Windows "My" folders from the default location, such as "C:\Users\myuserid\Pictures", to a folder on a different drive.

Well, I am not sure how I did it, but things have gotten screwed up and I have no idea how to even search for a possible fix for the problem. Currently, Windows Explorer shows the following list of folders under my Windows 7 user id.

"snapshot of my (broken) Windows Explorer folders list"

Some notes on the above snapshot:

  1. The blacked out area is just hiding my user id on this Windows 7 system.
  2. The areas in yellow highlight duplicates for what should be the "My Pictures" and "My Videos" folders. The duplicates open up the exact same (relocated) folder. I have no idea why I have these folders have dups. I would like to safely get rid of the dup.
  3. For some reason the actual name of the relocated folder is displayed, i.e. "Pics" instead of "My Pictures". I can live with this, but I don't believe it is supposed to work this way.
  4. What the heck happened to "My Documents"?? I could swear there is supposed be a "My Documents" folder in that list. (No??)

Can anyone point me in a direction that might allow me to fix whatever it is that I've broken?

Best Answer

You might want to make the AppData folder hidden (not recursive), it's meant to be that way.


Steps to restore the folders to the way you want them to be:

  1. Take a back-up of your data, I don't want to responsible for nuking your data. I've warned you... ;-)

  2. Remove the non-special folders, this means the properties doesn't have a Location tab.

  3. For each special folder, go to the Location tab and click Restore Default.

  4. For each special folder you want to relocate, go to the Location tab and Move them.

If it doesn't work out for you, tell me what went wrong...


You can create a string Personal in the following key to restore My Documents:

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders

Point it to an existing folder, perhaps you could change all your folders this way and reboot.