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With both of my Windows 7 machines, there is a Downloads folder in the user's directory, and also a Downloads folder in the user's My Documents folder. It seems that half of my applications put downloaded files in one, and the other half put them in the other.

Is there any easy way to get all applications to use the same Downloads folder?

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Most applications will allow you to change the default folder to anything you wish. –  Moab Sep 16 '10 at 21:52
    
I'd prefer to not have to go into the settings for every app. I'm hoping there is a global setting or some way to trick all the apps into using the same folder. –  Kristopher Johnson Sep 17 '10 at 1:11
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, this is due to application developers being lazy and just sticking things in My Docs\Downloads, without checking to see if there is a dedicated downloads folder specified. The easiest solution would probably be to just change the settings in those offending applications to force them to download to the right downloads folder. However, if that would be too tedious, here's another solution.

The NTFS file system has a feature called Junctions or Symbolic Links. These are essentially fake directories which an application sees as if they were real, but they are actually redirecting to another location on the hard drive. Windows 7 has several built in; for example, if you go to C:\documents and settings\username, it will show the folder that has your user profile, even though it is actually at C:\users\username. There isn't a duplicate copy of your profile, there's just a symbolic link from C:\documents and settings\ to C:\users\. What you want to do in this case is create a symlink from My Documents\Downloads to the actual Downloads folder.

HowToGeek has an article thoroughly explaining how to create symlinks in Vista using the mklink command line tool. These instructions should also work in Windows 7. For background information, you may want to read the Wikipedia article on NTFS Junction Points. If you would rather use a GUI tool, there is a free, open source tool called SymLinker which can do it for you, and another one called Junction Link Magic. Once you create the symlink, any application trying to write to My Docs\Downloads will still think it's writing there, when in fact the file is being saved to the actual downloads file.

Note that you should back up any files that were originally in the My Documents\Downloads folder, then delete that folder. Attempting to create a symbolic link for a path which already exists would likely result in errors, and you wouldn't want to lose your data.

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+1 Normally I wouldn't agree with duplicate answers but this one is worth it thun I removed mine... Indeed, the one in the user directory is the official. An alternative application to check out is Junction Link Magic. –  Tom Wijsman Sep 16 '10 at 17:32
    
Thanks, Tom. I didn't notice your answer until after I had already posted mine, otherwise I would've just edited yours. Thanks for the support; I'll add a link to Junction Link Magic in my answer. –  nhinkle Sep 16 '10 at 17:54
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I feel so untechnical for this answer, but if you have a lot of downloads, why not make a Downloads library and include both folders?

Go to either one in Windows Explorer, select "Include in Library" from the menu bar, select "Create New Library". Then just navigate to the other directory and use the same menu to include the other folder in the "Downloads" library.

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Great suggestion for users who don't want to mess around with advanced tools like symlinks. +1 –  nhinkle Sep 16 '10 at 18:57
    
that is an awesome idea. +1! –  studiohack Sep 17 '10 at 1:45
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Just to add to nhinle's answer, and to give you the commands needed:

..assuming the second Download folder is in the Documents folder (first empty it of anything you need), at the command prompt:

rd /s %userprofile%\documents\downloads

mklink /j %userprofile%\documents\downloads %userprofile%\downloads
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I had the same problem with Chrome dumping into My Documents/downloads.

I just changed the setting in Chrome to put stuff in the default download directory.

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