How to Access the Application Data Folder

The AppData folder is not intended for user access.
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Although you don't usually need to access the Application Data (AppData) folder, in some cases, you might need to use it – to transfer your Firefox user profile to another computer, for example. The problem is that the AppData folder is not intended for user access, so finding it is not as easy as finding other folders. However, you can find the AppData folder if you need to with an AppData shortcut in Windows 10, 8 and 7 or by revealing hidden folders and looking in the right place.

Understanding the AppData Folder

Microsoft first included the AppData folder in Windows Vista, but Windows 10, 8 and 7 all have the folder, too. The folder allows each user of a machine to have different settings for their applications – browser settings or the AppData for Minecraft or other games. AppData has three subfolders: Local, LocalLow and Roaming.

The roaming folder contains most of the application data stored in the folder. Specifically, it's intended for data you need if your user profile "roams" from machine to machine (if it was connected to a domain, for instance). In other words, most of the settings, such as browser settings that you might need to access, are in this folder.

The other two folders are for data that is specific to one computer, with the difference being that LocalLow is only for programs that run with strict security settings. It's worth pointing out that not all programs do what you'd expect: Chrome stores the data you'd expect to find in Roaming in the Local folder, and some programs put their data in ProgramData so that it's the same for all users.

AppData Shortcut in Windows 10, 8 and 7

The easiest way to access the AppData folder is to use the shortcut. In Windows 10, 8 or 7, you can search for "%appdata%" in the relevant place to be taken straight to the Roaming section of the AppData folder. In Windows 10, this place is the search bar beside the Windows icon. In Windows 8, use the Charms Bar, and in Windows 7, search at the bottom of the Start menu.

To access the main folder, click the "Appdata" title in the file path at the top of the window. You can also type "%appdata%" into the file path area in any File Explorer window to go to the same place. This method is the easiest way to access the AppData for a program, but there is an alternate method if you prefer to use it.

Finding the Hidden Folder

The AppData folder is hidden by default in Windows because you aren't likely to need it. However, if you make hidden folders visible, you can navigate to it like you do any folder. In Windows 10, go to the "View" tab of a File Explorer window and click the check box beside "Hidden items" in the "Show/hide" section. In Windows 8, the process is similar, but from the "View" tab, go to "Options," then "View," and then scroll down to the "Hidden files and folders" section and click the radio button beside "Show hidden files, folders and drives."

In Windows 7, click "Organize" in a File Explorer window and go to the "View" tab. Scroll down to "Hidden files and folders," and click the radio button beside "Show hidden files, folders and drives."

After showing hidden files and folders, you can locate the AppData folder by going to C:\Users[your username] and looking there. You don't need any special permissions to access. Just double-click and you're in.

Warning

Don’t delete anything from the AppData folder because this can prevent programs from functioning correctly. You can copy files to back up your data, though.

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