Common folder variables

Folder variables refer to folders that are located differently on various Windows platforms and even individual computers. These variables are used by both legitimate applications and malware when accessing, changing, or creating files or folders. This page provides a reference for the default locations referenced by common folder variables.

To quickly open the actual location referenced by a folder variable on your computer:

  1. Open a Windows Explorer window (the keyboard shortcut is Windows logo key + E).
  2. Type the name of the variable in the address bar, including the %sign at the start and end of the variable (such as %APPDATA%). Press Enter.
  3. The actual folder refered to by the variable will open. This folder can vary between computers.

NOTE: This procedure applies only to variables defined by % symbols, such as %APPDATA%.

In Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows Vista , variable folders are called known folders. In Windows XP and Windows 2000, variable folders are called CSIDL values.


Default locations of common folder variables in various platforms

%ALLUSERSPROFILE%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Documents and Settings\All Users
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaReferred to as %ProgramData%

%APPDATA%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming

<commonappdata>
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\ProgramData

%CommonProgramFiles%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Program Files\Common Files
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Program Files\Common Files

%HOMEPATH%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Users\<user name>

%LOCALAPPDATA%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Local Settings\Application Data
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Local

%ProgramData%
Windows XP and Windows 2000Referred to as %ALLUSERSPROFILE%
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\ProgramData

%ProgramFiles%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86)
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86)

%ProgramW6432%
Windows XP and Windows 2000N/A
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaN/A for Windows Vista; varies on other platorms, see WOW64 Implementation Details

%PUBLIC%
Windows XP and Windows 2000N/A
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Users\Public

$recycle.bin
Windows XP and Windows 2000Windows recycle bin (hidden location)
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaWindows recycle bin (hidden location)

<start menu>
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Start Menu or C:\Users\<user name>\Start Menu
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

<startup folder>
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

%SystemDrive%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:

<system folder>
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\WinNT\System32
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Windows\System32

%SystemRoot%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Windows
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Windows

%TEMP%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Local Settings\Temp
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Local\Temp

%USERPROFILE%
Windows XP and Windows 2000C:\Documents and Settings\<user name> or C:\Users\<user name>
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows VistaC:\Users\<user name>

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