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I love using my desktop to store all of my latest projects and work however It troubles me this is kept on my local machine. Is there any way to map the desktop so that everything it contains is stored onto a network location instead?

I already have shortcuts to network folders/drives on my desktop, but what I'm after is a more pure solution.

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Are you on a Windows Server Active Directory domain? – Dave M Sep 28 '11 at 14:46
yes, its on our corporate network – shiznit123 Sep 28 '11 at 16:34
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think you're saying that you would like your desktop to be populated with the contents of a folder that is somewhere on the network, presumably with better management, backups, etc. (since your desktop is really just a folder anyway). Also, I will assume you have permissions to the network locations and local admin permissions. Warning, if you network goes down you won't be able to get your desktop!

  1. Start by making a folder in the network location you want your desktop to be. Then "Map Network Drive" from "Computer" in Explorer (XP: Tools > Map Netowrk Drive). Select the drive letter and the \\server\folder (you can browse if you want).
  2. Then (Vista/7), go into your user folder (typing %USERNAME% works in all versions): C:\Users\<username>\ and right click on the Desktop folder, click Properties, Click Location tab and type in <mapped drive letter>:\ or click Move to find the network mapped drive. That should do it. You may need to restart.

OR: 2. In XP I think you would have to change a registry setting.

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

On the right sind you should see the path to Desktop: change it to your mapped network drive. Big warnings here about changing your registry. Also, I've never changed this key so I can't predict if there are any issues or complications with it. Research this more before you do it.

Of course, all this could be done by cmd with junctions, but I think this is messy.

mklink /J "%USERNAME%\Desktop" "<mapped drive letter>:\ or network folder"

or in XP (requires linkd.exe from the Resource Kit)

linkd "%USERNAME%\Desktop" "<mapped drive letter>:\ or network folder"

I hope this helps.

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No need to map a Network drive. You can put network path directly into Location – Veton Apr 11 '14 at 22:03
I need help, my desktop is located on a network drive but I work from home sometimes and it's really slow to log in when Offline? – JPelletier Sep 24 '15 at 18:59

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