How to Move Installed Apps & Programs in Windows 10

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If you’ve got a lot of apps and programs installed on your Windows 10 system, you might want to move them to another drive to free up space. It may also be necessary to change your default install location. Happily, all of these things are possible.

Windows has a built-in utility that allows you to move modern apps to a location of your choice. Although this method doesn’t work for traditional desktop programs, it’s still possible to move these, too. Let us show you how.

If you’ve gone through this process yourself and have your own method to share, be sure to let us know in the comments.

Move Installed Apps & Programs

It’s quick to move apps that you’ve installed yourself, but the process of moving anything else will require additional work.

Modern Apps

Press Ctrl + I to bring up the Settings menu. Now click System, then select Apps & features from the left-hand navigation.

Here you will find a list of all apps and programs installed on your system. Note that this move method will only work for apps that you have installed – that means those which were pre-installed can’t be moved.

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move apps

Scroll to the app that you want to move and select it from the list. Now, click Move. Select the new drive location from the dropdown, then click Move.

You can repeat the process if you ever want to move the app back or to a different drive.

Desktop Programs

Microsoft doesn’t recommend moving the file location of installed programs because it can cause issues, like the program ceasing to run. A safer (though less efficient) method, is to uninstall the program and then just reinstall it to your desired drive. If you do want to proceed, create a restore point so you can reverse the changes, if anything goes wrong.

We recommend using a program called Steam Mover. This was originally designed to move Steam games between drives, but will actually work on any program.

Note that any drive you want to use with this program, whether it’s where the installed program currently sits or where you want it moved to, needs to be in the NTFS format. You can check this by loading File Explorer and then clicking This PC from the left-hand navigation. Now, right-click a drive and select Properties. Refer to the File system to see if it’s using NTFS.

local disc properties

Open Steam Mover. First, select the button next to Steam Apps Common Folder to select the folder path which contains the program you want to move (for example, your Program Files). Now, select the button next to Alternative Folder and select the folder path where you want to move the program to.

steam mover

Next, select the program from the list that you want to move. You can select multiple programs by holding CTRL as you click. When ready to move, click the blue right arrow at the bottom to begin. Command Prompt will open and process the move. When complete, you’ll see the new folder path next to the program in the Junction Point column.

With thanks to Into Windows for the tip on this one.

Change the Default Install Location

If you just want to change the default install location for apps, that’s simple. Changing it for standard programs is a bit more complicated.

Modern Apps

Press Ctrl + I to bring up the Settings menu. From here, click System and then select Storage from the left-hand menu.

Underneath Save locations, you will see various dropdowns. To change the default drive for new apps, use the New apps will save to: dropdown.

app save locations

You will note that this page also allows you to change the default location of things like documents, music, and pictures.

Desktop Programs

Please note that Microsoft doesn’t recommend changing the default install path for programs. Doing so could cause problems with existing programs and some Windows features. It’s best to perform this operation on a clean system. If that’s not suitable, create a restore point so that you can roll back if necessary.

The majority of programs will let you change the install path when installing them, which might be a better solution than fiddling with the system.

muo-windows-w10-restore-reset-restorepoint

If you do want to proceed, we recommend a program called Install Dir Changer. Download it from SourceForge and then open the exe.

Once the program has opened, click Enable Editing and then click Yes when the User Account Control window pops up. You’ll now be able to select a default install path, using the button to browse to a folder path if necessary.

install dir changer

Program Files is where 64-bit applications will be installed and Program Files (x86) is for 32-bit applications. If you’re not sure what that means, read our guide for the difference between the 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows. But you’ll probably want both of them on the same drive anyway.

Once you’ve selected your new path, click Apply Changes. Now all new programs you install will default to these folder paths.

Move on Over

Now that you know how to move your apps and programs and how to change their default install location, you can get to freeing up space on your drives. But remember to take precaution when using the third-party programs.

If you’re satisfied with your Windows 10 installation and don’t plan on downgrading, you may want to remove the Windows.old folder to salvage additional disk space.

When moving from a hard disk drive to a solid state drive, you should transfer your commonly accessed programs to the SSD. That way they’ll load much quicker, leaving the HDD to handle archived data.

Have you used these methods before? Do you have your own tips to share?

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