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Windows 7 64-bit version installs 32-bit programs to Program Files (x86) folder, and 64-bit programs to Program Files folder. Of course, Microsoft must have a reason for doing that, but as a user I don't find it handy to have 2 separate program folders. Is there any way to merge those folders into one (preferably, Program Files) without corrupting installed programs?

And would it be a problem to install 32-bit applications into Program Files folder?

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Can I just ask why? Do you really go mulling around in the Program Files folders that often? If so, what are you doing, and why? For the most part these should be considered system folders since if you screw them up the applications on your system will likely not work. As such, you probably shouldn't be messing with them much. – heavyd Mar 11 '10 at 22:51
While having to "Program Files" directories annoys me as well, I think you're asking for a whole lot of trouble if you try to merge them into one. – Roy Rico Mar 11 '10 at 23:12
up vote 17 down vote accepted

I think some bigger programs might install things into both directories. Like if they had both 32 and 64 bit versions of things. Especially when it comes to common files and various libraries. And you don't want a 32 bit assembly to be overwritten by a 64 bit one or vice-versa. Would probably not work so well the next time that assembly were to be used.

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It's important that the "Common Files" folder in each is kept separate. – jtreser Mar 11 '10 at 11:56
@Jeff, Exactly. – Svish Mar 12 '10 at 9:55

No, there is no way to move an installed application. You'll need to uninstall and try to select installation destination manually when reinstalling.

But my advice is to leave it alone.

Well you could possibly do some advanced registry hacking but that's probably a lot more work than reinstalling an application (and a lot more dangerous)

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I'm not much of a computer wiz, so when I saw that I had two "Program Files" folders, I did try merging them together to keep things tidy.

It allowed me to merge most things, but now I can't use alot of programs as obviously the directory points to the wrong place. I'm now copying all the files back to the original spot using the "previous versions" tab in the folder properties.

Hopefully this fixes my muck up?

So yeah: Don't try merging "program files" and "program files (x86)".

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Just reading all the above, and what I believe is that if you uninstall the (x86) file your product ID licence is hijacked meaning your warranty is lost, Microsoft themselves advised me not to try and get rid of this folder as I thought it was quite strange myself with a 64 bit win 7 OS with (x86) program files too.

They did say it would leave my computer very instability and @ high risk of crashing.

Pretty much your best thing to do is to leave the file, when installing new software on your PC make sure it’s just going into your correct program folder, Like really when you think about it what’s it really hurting? You get the best of both worlds with the 32 bit programs and you 64 bit which some applications need that folder to function.

Take adobe master collection for example it runs mostly with the (x86) program folder and a small amount ends up in your new OS. Honestly just leave the program; you’re not going to get back heaps of disk space anyways

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One possible workaround is to make one of the directories a junction point that points to the other. That is, you could move all subfolders from Program Files (x86) to Program Files, delete the folder Program Files (x86) and then create a junction point with that name which points to Program Files. You would now appear have two directories with identical content, and all references to the applications within would still be intact.

Of course, if there really is a reason to keep those directories separate (like Svish suggests), you probably shouldn't try this anyway.

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(I use virtually no MS apps other then the OS itself.)

I virtually always use Custom installs & virtually always never install into "Program Files" folders. (Actually I never even install into my System drive, E: as it is, but instead into C:.)

Looking now, I see the only application that has made its way into Program Files is WinPcap (other then items installed at Windows 7 installation).

So thinking that if you are more specific in where you want something installed, you may have a better chance of it ending up there too.

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You definitely do not want to mess with that. This link has a good overview: Windows actually redirects to the correct folder so even if a application is not aware of the x86 vs. normal folder and that older application is 32 bit windows knows to put it in the x86 folder and programatic references to program files within that older application successfully get redirected to the x86 program files folder.

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I've done this multiple time just for the fun of it. DO NOT DO this unless you're ok with your computer crapping out immediately or eventually.

I've merged Program files, Program files x86 and both their common files, program data, the users folder, and several other system folders in every possible combination simply to see how the computer felt about it.

At some point it doesn't like it. Sometimes it's no more severe than certain programs can't be install, but others the computer refused to boot altogether. So many varieties of errors occurred that I can't recall which ones were related to my various regedits so I couldn't tell you specifics, but it will eventually cause a problem and you may or not notice/attribute it to the merge, but it'll be there... somewhere. Lurking, waiting. Anyways if you really want to screw with it go here in the registry and make paths the same assuming Windows 8.1 has the same as 7... I can't recall if it is or not.

enter image description here

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i think my regedit path disspeared on post. prolly the user's fault HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion – shatterlamp Aug 20 '14 at 0:30

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