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Anyone use 'My Documents'?

It's funny, I've never seen any programmer use the My Documents folder.  Never.  Although every one of my customers with no clue about computers has it chuck full of stuff.  In fact it's the only place they store things.  The 'Save' dialog box comes up, it points to 'my documents' they click save and don't think about it.  It never even occurs to them to create a different folder.  I would have to say that the My Documents folder is a crazy folder.  That is all...

Software Developer
Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I use it.  I have it divided up nice and organized-like.

Basically, I take the same approach as if it were my /home/myname directory.  It's where all the stuff goes...except code, which has its own drive.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Nope; all my data (with a very few exceptions) live on a separate partition.  The closest I get is a bunch of stuff in folders on the desktop.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I use it, but I relocate it to my data drive. And I don't put documents in it, so much as it's my "drop" place for things. I do keep it moderately organized, since it's my junk drawer of sorts.

Brad Wilson (
Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I use 'My Documents' religiously for my data. But I customized the location so as to not use the stupid 'Documents And Settings\blablablablabla' path. 'My Documents' has a directory name property that I set to be a single, easy to remember name at the root of C:\.

The advantage of this is that I can back up all current data from C:\xxx.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The only reason I use 'My Documents' is because it's the one folder that most programs open to when saving a new document, and I'm lazy.  However, I do hate it when programs don't default to the folder that I opened the document from when I click "Save as...".  Query Analyzer is notorious for this.

Other than that, I despise the name.  I'd rather be able to specify what it's called wherever it's refered to in the system.  I'd call mine "Home".

For those that don't know already, in Win2k+/XP you can make your My Documents folder point to any other folder, even on another partition.  The only problem with putting it on another partition though is that everytime you want to drag and drop something to it, the default action is to Copy, not Move.

If you don't use My Documents, at least put some shortcuts in there to the folders that you do use, so you don't have to use the horribly slow drop-down menu that freezes up when you have slow network drives mapped, or a CD in the drive (win2k).

Aaah, Windows annoys me to no end, but at least the installer doesn't puke on older hardware like Mandrake just did on my "old" Compaq Deskpro.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I use My Documents on my desktop (relocated to a data drive).  The My Documents shortcut on my laptop points to My Documents on my desktop PC, and I have Offline Files enabled on the laptop, so that I have the same My Documents stuff on both PCs.  Convenient access and a first line of backup.

I'd admit that I even keep code in a subfolder of My Documents (and thus have it synched between PCs) but that probably wouldn't sound professional, even if it is just home code, so I don't think I'll mention it after all.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Never use it. I have a directory called /work off the root and that contains everything. And it all goes into CVS.

The fact that My Documents contains a space and is actually located so deep in the directory hierarchy (/Documents and Settings/John C/My Documents or whatever) just makes it too painful to use from the command line etc. I know you can change it, but I don't want to repeat that change on every machine that I use.

John C.
Thursday, May 06, 2004

Anything "MY..." makes me feel as if I'm being treated like a child. I don't like it at all.

"My Documents" has a useful concept, in that it is used by the Intellimirror feature of Windows Server 2003.

If only it could be renamed to something less puerile.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

yeah, its retarded, but I keep all my files I like to backup in there.  Financial stuff, play code, aim logs, and where I checkout all my CVS modules.  This way, when my hard drive crashes (not if, when), I simply grab the last backup I did of My Documents and i'm almost good to go. (except for the painful part about resetting all my environment variables and crap). 

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I used to not use it, but then the file server on which our department's home directories live started running out of disk space 2-3 times / week and I got tired of having my home directory turn read-only without any warning.  Subsequently, our development team got kicked off that server and left to fend for ourselves because our stuff was taking up 2 whole gigs.  We had to create our own shares on our develepment web server.

Anyway, now I use the plain old Documents and Settings... My Documents folder, and back it up myself (sigh).  I have it nicely organized, but I use the root of My Documents for temporary storage of files before they get sorted into their permanent homes or to store frequently accessed items.  I think it's the path of least resistance, since Windows pops up at every turn offering to store files in or retrieve files from My Documents -- I guess I finally figured why fight it.  I even have my local instances of Visual Studio projects in that default "Visual Studio Projects" folder that gets created (again, path of least resistance).  Of course they're linked to our source safe server, so at least everything I check in is backed up.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I use it regularly, but I hate that fact that I have to dig down 17 directory levels in "File Open" dialogs with older software.

Especially when half the directories are shown as "abcdef~1".

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Not only do I use it, but I actually have my mp3 files in My Music, and my pictures in My Pictures. I even have a few videos in My Videos. I also use my own folders to organize within each.

I've also used TweakUI to put shortcuts to My Pictures and My Videos in the sidebar of the File Save common dialog.

It also helps that XP has items pointing to 3 of the 4 folders in question on the start menu (at least mine does).

I do have a second drive for Music projects and DVD images

I also need to do something about my unorganized pit of random downloads (demos, patches, etc).

Chris Altmann
Thursday, May 06, 2004

I use it, but moved it to a different partition. Would be a completely separate drive if I could, but don't have one.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

IIRC, the whole point of "My Documents" is portability between machines of user data.  When Joe Bloggs in the office gets his new pc the tech support guy only has to migrate the "My Documents" folder and reinstall whatever software Joe was using.  If some apps are badly behaved and start saving (user) data to "c:\program files" for example, then the chances of that data being migrated to the new system are slim because the tech support guy just won't know to look for it.

I remember reading an MSDN article about standard windows development practices designed to aid portability and this was one of the points made.  Can't remember or find the url though.  Anyone else know of it?

Not Waving But Drowning
Thursday, May 06, 2004

I repointed "My Documents" to my nicely organised folder on the file server.  It makes life much easier.

a cynic writes...
Thursday, May 06, 2004

Bought a new harddrive, pointed My Documents to it and organized my entire life inside of it.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I use My Documents for school stuff, pictures I find on the net and music. But it's on a seperate partition, drive M to remember it easy, and I don't bother backing it up (I don't often have school work that needs backing up frequently).

I keep every single software project on a seperate drive too. I have an 80gig hard drive, with 16 partitions!

Maybe it's slower, but I don't notice it, and it makes things much more organised IMO.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


Thursday, May 06, 2004

I keep all my projet work in a directory called projects on my  d: drive. That's backed up every night to a server directory also called projects on a mapped p: drive.

I recently redirected 'My Documents' to the d:\projects directory.  (I can't remember why: it seemed like a good idea at the time)

Today I tried to use Explorer to search on the p:\projects directory for something. Because I'd got a d:\projects for as 'My Documents', the !@#$@#$!@ Explorer would only search that, not the p:\projects I told it to look in.

No, I don't use 'My Doucments' anymore, and I continue to loathe the arrogant, patronising creeps at Microsoft that decide that sort of behaviour is what I really meant, and they know better than I do.

Nic C-L
Thursday, May 06, 2004

If you are going to put everything under a single root homedirectory, why not "My Documents"?

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 06, 2004

Microsoft knows best on this as usual.

The advantage of having a My Documents folder is that it can be used as the default save location for other applications. Users are notorioulsy bad at understanding directory structures so having default foders set up saves them losing their data on their own machine. If you don't like the name, rename it, and if you don't like the location just cut and paste it somewhere else, and all properly written programs will use the new location.

Newbie users aren't bothered about the long file path because they don't understand file paths anyway, and programmers could always rename it, or delete the space, if they didn't prefer to spend their time whining about how stupid the name is.

The reason the folder is so deeply embedded is that you often have users who share the same machine (less common now the cost of software is plummeting but still happening and very common in 1999 when W2000 came out). W2000 allows each one to have a separate folder to himself, with the result that the only highly embarrassing documents I get to read from colleagues are those left on W98 machines :)

As has been pointed out, if you follow the MS defaults, then when you change machine all you need to do is take your personal documetns and settings folder with you.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 06, 2004

I don't use My Documents because I hate the fact that other apps write directories there.  If it were really MY documents then where are all these other files coming from??

For all you folks storing documents in some alternate location you might be interested in a little tool I found while back:

Using it, I have a link to C:\Projects under My Computer and on my desktop.  It can save you a few clicks here and there and make things more organized.

also, check out makelink.exe:

it allows you to create symbolic links under NTFS.  godstuff.

Steve H
Thursday, May 06, 2004


Steve H
Thursday, May 06, 2004

Every program on my machine religiously defaults to My Documents and sub folders. It drives me nuts. I have been fighting the futile fight, making a folder call C:\DATA D:\DATA as long as I can remember. But I am getting tired of this b.s. and will give in sometimes around 2007.

Li-fan Chen
Thursday, May 06, 2004

"The 'Save' dialog box comes up, it points to 'my documents' they click save and don't think about it. "

"Users are notorioulsy bad at understanding directory structures so having default foders set up saves them losing their data on their own machine."

Makes you wonder why users need to know about files, folders ram/disk etc. anyway.

Interaction Architect
Thursday, May 06, 2004

Dear Li-fan,
                  Just go to the My Documents shortcut on your desktop and point it to the C:\Data folder you have created. All your programs will then default to that folder. Alternatively you change the path for Personal in the usershellfolders and shellfolders (you must change it in both) keys in the registry.

                  Am I the only one who sees the irony of  complaining loudly about anybody claiming to be a programmer in one thread, and then showing you don't even know about Windows default directories in another?

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 06, 2004

Yes, I use it. Yes, I moved it to a data partition. No, I don't call it that, mine is just called Documents. I also moved things like my Outlook files and Favorites to the data partition, where they can be more easily backed up. And so on.

Dave Hallett
Thursday, May 06, 2004

I pointed the shell folder to c:\home\chris. Every windows app that starts in "My Documents" finds the right place, it's still easy to use from the command line, and I have a similar place to put other people's home directories if I need to. Works out pretty well.

Chris Tavares
Thursday, May 06, 2004

I like My Documents - then when my wife and kid are looking for stuff, that's the only place they look.  There is^H^Hcould be a directory name C:\MyPorn and they'd never know it was there.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I think I read one of your kid's letters in "Savage Love" this week.

You pervert
Thursday, May 06, 2004

>The advantage of having a My Documents folder is that it can be used as the default save location for other application

Yeah but in typical Microsoft fashion they did it in a half baked manner.

My Documents would have been much more useful if Microsoft would have extended to have a different folder underneath it for different file types (or even for different applications) and have the "Save" or "Save As" dialog automatically default to the correct directory.  Searching for documents would also be much more quicker

As it stands now it is not that much different than dumping everything in c:\

Code Monkey
Thursday, May 06, 2004

"My Documents would have been much more useful if Microsoft would have extended to have a different folder underneath it for different file types"

Damn you microsoft! How can you be so stupid! Don't you understand that _my_ way is the right way?!?! ;)

Personally, I don't want all my docs for one project spread out through the dir tree. I want proj one here. My pics here. My misc download... etc. How many times have you read here that someone's pissed off because MS makes decisions for them?

You can please some of the people some of the time...

Jack of all
Thursday, May 06, 2004

Dear Code Monkey,
                            Isn't that what MS is doing with the MY Pictures and My Music  folders. Their location is in the registry, so you can tell your graphics program to save to the default my pictures folder.

                            Most well writtien applications have the default open and save configurabel anyway. And if you use the Common Open and Save Dialog boxes in your application, the savvy user can set the five locations in the toolbar to be what he considers the best.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 07, 2004

I use it for all my documents, regardless of type, including code. Everything then goes into CVS. I also relocated the "My Documents" folder onto my data drive.

Data Miner
Sunday, May 09, 2004

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