How to Change the Default App Install Location in Windows

All installed apps remain in their default file locations unless you manually change them. As more files accumulate with time on your computer, the default folder may run out of storage.

In these cases, changing the default install location comes in handy. You can change the default location for app installation in several different ways.

The process can seem tricky, but we have easy-to-understand steps for you. Follow the methods mentioned in this article to learn them in just a few minutes.

When Should I Change My Default Installation Location?

All the programs that you install stay on the local drive (C drive by default). Your computer can get laggy, and opening programs can get slow with a full local drive. If your computer experiences these things, change the install location elsewhere as soon as you can.

To avoid overusing your local drive, create separate drives and folders for your files. You can create a partition for your drive to do so. Then, keep your system files on the local drive and other programs on a separate drive. 

Also, you may want to change the location so that it is easier to access. If so, you can move it to a familiar folder on the same drive. Or, as mentioned previously, you can change it to a different drive with more space.

How to Change the Default App Install Location in Windows

There are a few ways to change Windows’s default app installation location. Using the registry editor enables you to dictate the exact location of your installed apps.

Similarly, you can change the drive for your future installations through system settings. You can apply these solutions using the methods mentioned below:

From the Registry Editor

Initially, determine the folder to which you want to change the default install location. Copy the target folder path to your clipboard, as you will need it later.

If you do not have a preferred destination folder for the apps, you’ll need to create one. But it’s better not to create multiple subfolders to avoid confusion. Preferably, you can create the folders on a new drive with enough storage. Then, follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Click on the Search box and type in Registry Editor
  2. Right-click and choose Run as administrator 
  3. A dialog box opens. Press Yes
  4. On the left side of the Registry Editor, double-click on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
  5. Then go to Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion 
  6. Double-click on ProgramFilesDir on the right side of the Registry Editor
  7. On the Value data box, paste the location of the target folder that you copied earlier.
  8. Then, press OK and restart your computer.

Afterward, you should be able to view if the location has changed from the Data section. Then, all the applications you install will be stored in the new folder.

Note: Your system might not support location changes in some cases. Additionally, you might make mistakes when you change the default location for the first time. So, before you modify it, keep a backup of the Registry

From Storage Settings

You can decide the exact location for your default installation using the Registry editor. However, You can just change the default drive for app installation from the storage settings. 

On top of application installation, you can also change the default location for music, videos, and documents using the process mentioned below.

  1. Click on Start and select the Settings icon.
  2. Select on System
  3. Click on storage from the left side of the window.
  4. Then, click on the Advanced storage setting. (Only for Windows 11)
  5. Click on Change where new content is saved from the More storage settings section.
  6. Change the target folder from the New apps will save to: section
  7. Change from Local Drive (C:) to your preferred drive (D:)
  8. Press Apply

Note: You can check if the location has changed. For this, check the drive (D:) before and after you press Apply. The target drive will have three new folders for new apps. They are Admin, Program Files, and Windows Apps.

How Do I Move Installed Apps to Another Drive?

Transferring applications to a new drive helps if your local drive gets full. You can transfer the apps that you installed from the Microsoft Store from one drive to another. For this, follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Click on Start and select the settings icon. Or, search for Settings from the search bar.
  2. Click on Apps and open Apps and features.
  3. Scroll and click on the app that you want to transfer.
  4. Click on Move and select your destination drive from Select a drive to move this app to: section.
  5. Then click on Move in the dialog box.

You cannot move apps that you install from browsers or other external sources. You need to reinstall such apps.

However, this process only works for installed apps. This is not the process for installing desktop programs.

Note: Some apps might experience loss of data or function issues due to being moved after installation. If you run into this problem, it’d be best to reinstall those apps.

How Do I Change the Default Download Location?

Changing the default installation folder might not help if you keep downloading to the same folder. So, moving it to a new location will help. 

  1. Open This PC and Downloads folder.
  2. Right-click and select Properties
  3. Select the Location tab
  4. Click on Move 
  5. Select a new destination folder for your downloads
  6. Then, click on Apply
  7. A confirmation pop-up window opens. Click on Yes.
Liam Johnson
Liam Johnson

Liam is a tech enthusiast with a knack for helping others use the internet and computer software. He focuses on "HOW TOs" and "FIXES" at SpllittzTech to make your experience with technology better each day.

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