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’
- Choose the Source Favorites folder under your user profile
- Right click on the folder and choose Properties
- 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)
- 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
- 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.
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.
IE Software Development Engineer in Test