When you download or save a file on Windows 11 or Windows 10, the operating system wants to put your files in a default downloads folder or save location. This is suitable for many people, but for some, it can lead to the loss of vital space on their small OS drive. As a result, today we’re going to show you how to change download location on Windows 11 / Windows 10, as well as how to change the Windows 10 / Windows 11 default save location.

As well as freeing up space on your c: drive, changing save and download location in Windows 11 / Windows 10 can speed up your workflow allow you to better take backups. You can save them to a separate virtual drive that you back up, for example, or to your OneDrive folder. Though you could do this previously by browsing, having Windows start you in the correct folder saves a lot of time.

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Though we aim the methods below at a Windows 11 audience, they also work on Windows 10. You may see some changes to your UI, however, so just be aware of that. With that said, let’s get started:

How to Change Download Location on Windows 11 / Windows 10

If you want to change where downloads go on Windows 11 / Windows 10, you need to move your downloads folder. However, doing so isn’t as easy as cutting and pasting it to a different location. As you may have noticed, Windows 11 / Windows 10 does not allow you to move the folder via the traditional method, only create a shortcut to it or copy it.

So, how do you change the download location? Microsoft has thankfully implemented a handy UI in folder properties that makes it easy:

  1. Open File Explorer

    Press the Start button on your taskbar and click “File Explorer” in your pinned apps section. You can also press Windows + E if you don’t have File Explorer pinned.

    Windows 11 - Open File Explorer

  2. Right-click “Downloads” and select “Properties” from the list

     

    Windows 11 - Open File Explorer - Properties

  3. Open the “Location” tab and press the “Move…” button

    By default, your folder will point to C:\Users\YourUser\Downloads. We want to change that to a place of our choosing.

    Windows 11 - File Explorer - Downloads - Properties - Location - Move

  4. Navigate and click on your new downloads folder and press “Select Folder”

    If you don’t yet have a new downloads folder, you can right-click anywhere and press “New > Folder” to create one.

    Windows 11 - File Explorer - Downloads - Properties - Location - Move - Select Folder

  5. Press “OK” with your new folder path selected

     

    Windows 11 - File Explorer - Downloads - Properties - Location - Move - Select Folder Accept

  6. Press “Yes” to the warning prompt to move all of your downloads to the new location

     

    Windows 11 - File Explorer - Downloads - Properties - Move - Move All

How to Change the Default Save Location in Windows 11 / Windows 10

The Windows 10 / Windows 11 save location will modify which drive the OS prompts you to save files that you create or certain files from the internet to. Here’s how you change it:

  1. Open the Settings app

    To do so, press the Start button and then click “Settings” in the pinned apps. If it’s not in your pinned apps, you can press “Windows + I” to open it instead.

    Windows 11 - Open Settings

  2. Select “System” in the sidebar and click the “Storage” dropdown

     

    Windows 11 - Settings - System - Open Storage

  3. Click “Advanced storage settings”, then “Where new content is saved”

     

    Windows 11 - Settings - System - Storage - Adavanced Storage Settings - Where New Content is Saved

  4. Change the drive letter in the  “New apps will save to:” dropdown and press “Apply”

    You can repeat this process for each media type if you like. For example, you may want your photos and videos to save to a different drive as they take up a lot of space, but keep your documents on the C: drive.

    Windows 11 - Settings - System - Storage - Adavanced Storage Settings - Where New Content is Saved - Apply in New Volume E

How to Create a Virtual Hard Drive in Windows

Windows 10 - Create and Attach Virtual Hard Disk

If you have a single hard drive or SSD but still want to change your Windows 10 / Windows 11 default save location, you can create a virtual drive. This won’t free up any space, but it may help with organization or allow you to more easily perform backups. You can follow our dedicated virtual hard drive tutorial to do so or even create a dynamically expanding virtual hard drive

How to OneDrive Folder Sync Any Directory on Your PC

Windows 10 - OneDrive Location

Now that you know how to change your download folder location default save location in Windows 11 / Windows 10, make sure they’re syncing to OneDrive. You can use an mklink to save sync any directory to OneDrive and therefore make sure they’re backed up.

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