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Unable to Locate Files Saved in My Documents or My Pictures

Support for Windows XP has ended

Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

This article was previously published under Q282124
If you use Microsoft Windows Explorer to view the contents of special (user-specific) folders such as My Documents or My Pictures, you may not find the files that you have been saving to those folders if you are logged on as another user.
In earlier client operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows 98, all documents were stored in a common C:\My Documents directory for all users that logged on to the system. In Microsoft Windows XP, this behavior has been changed so that user-specific data is stored in separate locations for each user under that user's profile, in the following location:
C:\Documents and Settings\%User Name%\My Documents
To discover where a user has been saving his or her documents, log on as that user, right-click the special folder, and then view the target path under its properties.

You can also use the Search feature to search the entire contents of drive C to find that user's documents.
This behavior is by design. Windows XP is designed to be user-specific, so that a user's documents and information remain with that user. This functionality allows for better security as well as better file management.
There is an added feature that allow users to share certain folders with other users, store all files in the same folder, and provide better security. To view the options, select a folder, and then select Share this folder from the My Documents window.

For additional information about user profiles, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
243420 Roaming Profile Creation in Windows 2000 Using the 'Copy To' Command

Article ID: 282124 - Last Review: 01/15/2006 22:37:13 - Revision: 1.2

  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • kbenv kbprb KB282124