IE7 in Vista: Folder Redirection for Favorites on the Same Machine


One thing I like to do when I set up my machine is customize the location of my personal stuff like photos, documents, pictures, and favorites to a different drive in order to preserve my files during the onslaught of dual booting, upgrading the OS etc. which I often perform as a tester on IE.

For the sake of relevance and simplicity, I am going to limit this discussion to only Favorites and not all of the shell folders.

What used to be an undesirable hack in XP is now a fully supported feature in Vista. To fully appreciate what I am talking about you need to check out this cool feature in Vista that makes Favorites redirection both easy and reliable.

Using Windows Explorer

  • Open Windows explorer
  • Create a new destination folder in an alternate location

Note: When you create a new folder on a different drive, make sure you right click on the folder, go to the properties dialog, choose the Security tab and give yourself Full control. If you do not have full control, you will not be able to add new favorites and will encounter an ‘unspecified error’

Favorites Properties Security Tab

  • Choose the Source Favorites folder under your user profile
  • Right click on the folder and choose Properties

Favorites Properties Location Tab

  • Go to the location tab and replace C:Users<username>Favorites with the new drive and destination folder location (for e.g. E:Myfavorites that you have created above)

Select Favorites Destination

  • Click on the Move button in the select destination dialog, choose the new folder you have created in the steps above and click the Select folder button
  • Say “yes” to the confirmation dialog that asks if you would like to move all your files from the old location to the new one

    Move Files Dialog

  • Hit OK on the properties dialog

Your Favorites folder has now been successfully redirected to E:MyFavorites. Open IE and you should be able to view all your favorites and also add new ones to this new location.

Notice that you can name your favorites folder whatever you choose and move it to any drive, any number of levels deep.

Please note: If you are attempting to do this in Windows XP, the Shell UI(location tab) does not exist. You simply cut and paste or copy and paste your old favorites folder to the new location. This hack is definitely not supported in Vista.

Alternatively, another way of redirecting your favorites is to create a folder in the alternate location and redirect the registry key that holds your original favorites location to this alternate location. The method below works in both XP and Vista.

Registry key redirection

  • Open the registry by typing ‘regedit’ in the run command and navigate to the following node:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerUser Shell Folders

  • You will find a registry key called Favorites set to %userprofile%favorites.
  • Create a folder called ‘Favorites’ or any name of choice, on your alternate location, for example, your E: drive, and set this registry key value to point to it.

If you wish to migrate your favorites to a new machine or  are performing an operating system upgrade, there are several ways to accomplish this.

Moving favorites across machines

  • Use the Import Export wizard from the File menu in IE to copy your favorites to a network share.
  •  Copy your favorites to a network share, CD or any other storage device by directly using the copy/paste option.

Additionally,Vista offers a unique way of transferring not only your favorites, but all of your special folders, namely, My Documents, My Pictures, Application Data, Desktop, and Start Menu

Follow the instructions in the tutorial for using the easy transfer wizard.

Other Methods

There are two other supported ways of redirecting favorites, not discussed here, that are mostly used by System Administrators. More information on these methods can be found here.

  • Redirect via group policy setting
  • Redirect using a roaming profile

I encourage enthusiasts to try these methods for favorites redirection on Vista.

Nomita Paul
IE Software Development Engineer in Test

Comments (28)

  1. I’ve done the registry key redirection on XPSP2 and if I use a drive mapping, as in your example, IE bombs on startup in ieframe.dll. If I use a UNC mapping it loads OK.

  2. Jason Coombes says:

    Quote: Please note: If you are attempting to do this in Windows XP, the Shell UI(location tab) does not exist. You simply cut and paste [..] your old favorites folder to the new location. This hack is definitely not supported in Vista.

    Yes it is very much supported in Vista and is how I "move" all of my personal shell folders by cutting and pasting them into a new location.  This is the first thing I do after installing Vista as I’ve always kept my shell folders on another drive. There is one extra step however and that is removing the old empty folders from their original location.

    Thanks for the post though, really useful information and the more people storing their personal data away from the OS the better as it allows for easier recovery should you need to format the OS drive and re-install.

  3. michaud says:

    I’m thinking: Can I put an url in this field???

  4. KS says:

    It should be noted that "copy and paste" does *not* work. Not on Vista and not on XP. The article is wrong in this respect. It should be obvious, why. If you copy and paste you would end up with *two* Favorites folders and the shell wouldn’t know which one to use. The correct way to "move" the Favorites folder in XP (or any other Windows version for that matter) is to "move" that folder. That is either drag and drop it to a new location (which I find the easiest way doing it) or cut and paste it to a new location. That is basically the same kind of operation for the shell.

    Jason, thanks for confirming that it still works.

  5. KS says:

    Nomita, I would like to see a comment from you or anyone knowledgable on the fact that there is no global (shared) Favorites folder for all users, despite the fact that it is a much demanded feature and despite the fact that such a folder exists in profile pathall users – but doesn’t get used. It’s been existing since IE3 or 4, but has never been used by any IE incarnation, including IE7. Why?

  6. tim says:

    Wouldn’t all this be much easier if IE fixed their favorites to use one file, containing all the links rather than 1 file for every link?

    This would solve the length limitation that makes bookmarklets on IE a waste of time, it would make searching inline, much easier, and more metadata can be tracked, and best of all, if you want to copy/move your bookmarks, all you have to do is grab 1 file, easy as pie!

    tim

  7. Nate says:

    I do this with all my folders, unfortunatley, some Microsoft teams, Windows Messenger, shell teams, can’t seem to read the redirected path from the registry and instead hard-code the path, which recreates another folder in your profile with the same name. It’s stupid.

    Windows Messenger is guilty, and the Desktop redirection doesn’t work. Saved Games folder didn’t work up until RTM. We can all thank me for that one! :)

  8. Scoop0901 says:

    Great tip for IE’s favorites.  I have all my "real" files — my critical stuff on different drives and directory paths. The C drive is used only for installation — then into paths I choose — ones that make sense to me.

    I hate when some software companies have a product that wants to burrow down six directories before installing the product, such as:

    c:/program files/Company Name/Product Line/Product Cheerleader/Version/Product Name/Install Dir/

    That kind of thing drives me mad.

    Thanks for the tip on easily moving the Favorites directory to the path I want. It works better than making a shortcut to the path where I keep them, for real, which has worked for years.

  9. Andy C says:

    Hacking the Shell Folders key is surely not a supported option, since that key exists purely as a backwards compatibility hack.

    http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2003/11/03/55532.aspx

    lf you don’t want to use the UI, the group policy settings would be the way to go.

  10. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! says:

    OMG! That reload button position is sooooooo annoying!!!!

    Please, please, please will someone tell me how on earth I can move it back where it belongs on the left side of the address bar. (bonus points if you know how to get the Stop button there too)

    I don’t care if it is a registry hack, or even an extension, no matter what crud it comes with, or even if it is not free!

    Most annoying "new feature" in IE7 EVA!

    I can see how it happend now:

    MS Developers:

    "Yeah, well we can create this new interface with tabs n stuff, but users won’t be able to modify the layout of their toolbars anymore and many will complain about us moving critical buttons to the other side of the screen"

    Managers:

    "Well, we have to have tabs to compete will all the other browsers, they can live with some lack of customizability for now, and in a couple years we’ll add it back in."

    Thanks for Innovating!….. NOT

  11. Zoetrope says:

    Just one quickity-speedy thing…why have I been asked to download IE7 three times when I already have it? Very puzzling…

    And also…Feeds. Why can’t you add them without opening them? It’s a point of extreme annoyance for all us slower-internet types. Meaning those of us without broadband. It’d be nice if you’d cater for us.

  12. T says:

    If you do not have full control, you will not be able to add new favorites and will encounter an ‘unspecified error’

    ^^ That’s Microsoft

  13. @ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

    Relocating Reload/Stop button:

    Here is the extension you are looking for: http://www.quero.at/

  14. Craig says:

    Don’t know where else to put this – performance problem

    Upgraded xpsp2 home to premium home vista, upgrade successful by every account, performs well, OS great

    I’m a long time lover of IE but something is horribly wrong with IE7 on vista – it is painfully slow – to the point of being unusable – firefox is much quicker – this can’t be right, there must be some optimization i am missing – i am current with all windows updates

    can you blog about ie7/vista performance issues? any other takers? do i have specific machine problems or is this a common view?

    how can i possibly drop ie in favour of firefox?? help me out here…

  15. Nomita(MSFT) says:

    ‘Copy and paste’ will work in XP as long as you delete the original favorites folder after the copy action and thus have only one set of favorites. However I agree that cut and paste or move is a better option as it reduces the extra step of deleting.

  16. Randy says:

    Thanks for the extra stuff in this – I move other "special" folders in XP/2003 so I did the same to Vista… found the permissions issue the hard way: http://www.randyrants.com/2007/01/note_to_self_pe.html

  17. ... says:

    luogo interessante, soddisfare interessante, buon!

  18. Nomita(MSFT) says:

    @Larry Seltzer

    I would really like to learn a bit more about your scenario. It will be nice if you could share more specifics about your environment etc by sending email to the ieblog. That will give me a chance to assist you in resolving your issue.

  19. antisexy says:

    I’ve done the registry key redirection on XPSP2 and if I use a drive mapping, as in your example, IE bombs on startup in ieframe.dll. If I use a UNC mapping it loads OK.

  20. Chris Hynes says:

    This is nice, but what I really want to do is move the whole users folder to a different drive. So C:Users becomes D:Users and all user data is there. How can I do that?

  21. Ron says:

    Can I also move the Recorded TV folder (Vista Media Center) to another drive? It doesn’t have this Location tab and I would really like to put my recorded TV on a separate disk.

  22. ... says:

    Luogo molto buon:) Buona fortuna!

  23. ... says:

    E evidente che il luogo e stato fatto dalla persona che realmente conosce il mestiere!

  24. duuude says:

    Make a folder on your separate drive or partition like e:UsersSmartguyFavorites

    Then click on Start button, right-click on your user name

    Then you will see the blue folder "Favorites" (with the yellow star creeping out)… Right click on that, and select "Properties"

    Click on "Location"

    Enter e:UsersSmartguyFavorites as the new location

  25. delinetciler says:

    This would solve the length limitation that makes bookmarklets on IE a waste of time, it would make searching inline, much easier, and more metadata can be tracked, and best of all, if you want to copy/move your bookmarks, all you have to do is grab 1 file, easy as pie!

  26. ... says:

    luogo interessante, soddisfare interessante, buon!

  27. 10 – Windows Vista’s Integrity Mechanism Windows Vista includes an addition to the access control security