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I deleted the Downloads folder in my Windows 7 home directory (which I had moved and renamed to incoming)

I was able to restore the folder from a backup, this restores the contents as well as Desktop.ini (hidden) that gives it the right folder icon within the home directory.

However, right clicking does not show the "Location" tab, indicating that Windows doesn't recognize it as the special downloads folder. By Location tab I mean the tab that allows moving the location of the folder (try this on My Pictures, etc.). Until I see this restored I assumed Windows isn't aware that this is in fact my Downloads folder.

How to fix this?

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Right-clicking where? – Rhys Gibson Apr 7 '11 at 2:16
Ahhh I was vague. Basically the folder properties. Special shell folders have an extra location tab that relates to how windows tracks them. – mindless.panda Apr 7 '11 at 20:47
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Windows keeps track of the location of special folders in the registry. Have you ever used regedit.exe? Start that program and browse to:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders

In that folder, there is an entry with this name:


That entry should be set to the location of your Downloads folder, usually:


There is another entry here:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

Same name as before:


This entry should be set to:


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Clear step by step instructions and solved my problem. Thank you. – mindless.panda Apr 8 '11 at 14:28
Worked for me! Thanks a lot! – Pedro77 Feb 28 '14 at 19:45

I am not sure what you mean by "right clicking does not show the 'Location' tab", but here is the contents of the desktop.ini file from my Downloads folder, check to see if your desktop.ini is the same... maybe it will help. I am running W7X64.

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See edits above about Location tab, its the tab that is present in any of the Windows special folders, part of the shell understanding the folder is downloads, pictures, music, etc. – mindless.panda Apr 7 '11 at 15:31

I came here searching to resolve the corresponding problem "unavailable/messed-up Downloads folder" in Windows 10.

The top-voted answer from William Jackson almost completely solved my problem, but there is 1 more step to do in Windows 10 (Home):

In Win10, if you open "This PC" in Explorer, additional folders are shown above the section "Devices and drives" and one of these folders is the one related to "Downloads".

If this folder doesn't behave as expected, start regedit.exe and go to the folder:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

In this folder, the following entry specifies the target of the additional folder beneath "This PC" in Explorer:


The usual value for this entry is:


In my case, I had to change the value from %USERPROFILE%\Desktop to %USERPROFILE%\Downloads to restore the original behavior.

If this entry is missing, I guess adding it will bring back the additional "Downloads" folder beneath "This PC" in Explorer.

For the changes to take effect, at least log out from your Windows session and log in again.

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I think its good to add this in just in case anyone running windows 10 has this issue. – NetworkKingPin Feb 12 at 10:46

In explorer right click on the Favorites link on the left pane and click "restore favorites links"

you can also go to the Downloads location and then right click on Favorites and click "add current location to favorites"

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Microsoft has a tool to restore the shell folder paths to their defaults:

The site also lists all the registry values for for all the User Shell Folder in XP through Windows 7.

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Click Desktop, then there is a map named ur name.

Click on it then you can see Contacts, Desktop, Downloads, Favorites, Links, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures etc.

You just drop them :)

If you want them in libraries, right click then click Include in library.


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