How to Access the Application Data Folder

By David Weedmark

The Windows AppData folder is admittedly obscure and hidden, but it contains information that you may occasionally need to access. For example, iTunes backups are stored in this folder, as are Web browser bookmarks and information from other apps. The fastest way to access the AppData folder is to simply type "%appdata%" in Windows Search. The second way is to change your Control Panel options to make all hidden files and folders visible in File Explorer.

Using Windows Search

Step 1

Click the "Search" icon on the Windows Start screen. Type "%appdata%" and press "Enter." This opens File Explorer and takes you directly to the AppData Roaming subfolder. Alternately, you can open any folder on the desktop and type that into the Navigation bar at the top.

Step 2

Double-click any folder within the Roaming subfolder that you need. These folders contain information that is designed to move with you from one computer to another, like iTunes data or Web browser bookmarks.

Step 3

Click AppData in the Navigation bar at the top of the window to access any of the Local or LocalLow subfolders. The files in both of these subfolders contain data that stays only on this computer, like Web browser history and files that are too large to sync online.

Making Hidden Folders Visible

Step 1

Open the Control Panel. Depending upon which version of Windows you have, you will see this in the Start menu, or you can type "Control Panel" in the Windows Start screen Search field and press "Enter."

Step 2

Select "Appearance and Personalization" in the Control Panel, then click "Folder Options."

Step 3

Click the "View" tab and then click the "Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives" option located in the list of Advanced Settings. Click "Apply." All hidden folders, including the AppData folder, are now visible in File Explorer.

Step 4

Go to the Windows desktop and click the "File Explorer" icon at the bottom of the screen. Select "Windows (C:)" from the left menu, then "Users," and then your Username. Double-click the "AppData" folder that is now visible in the right pane.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you would prefer to go directly to the Roaming subfolder in AppData, type "%localappdata%" in Windows Search. To go directly to the AppData LocalLow subfolder, type "%appdata%\..\locallow" instead.
  • Deleting or altering hidden files or folders, including those in the AppData folder, can cause you serious grief. Always make a backup copy of your folders before making any changes so you can easily revert if you do something wrong.