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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 How to Free Up Storage Space to Run Windows 10 How to Free Up Storage Space to Run Windows 10 Did you run out of space for Windows 10, but want to upgrade or add more apps and data? We have compiled resources that will help you free up disk space on and for Windows... Read More . 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 12 Essential Windows Apps to Make Your Life Simpler in 2016 12 Essential Windows Apps to Make Your Life Simpler in 2016 Are you married to your Windows computer? Start the New Year with a collection of desktop and universal apps to work easier, relax, and stay on top of the world around you. Read More – 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 How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 Space wasted to a recovery partition is a thing of the past. System Restore and Factory Reset have improved in Windows 10. We show you how it works. Read More 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 5 Lesser Known Episodic Games on Steam You Should be Playing 5 Lesser Known Episodic Games on Steam You Should be Playing Don't call it a comeback. Episodic games have been here for years! Read More 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 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy Don't let the command prompt intimidate you. It's simpler and more useful than you expect. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish with just a few keystrokes. Read More 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 What Is The Difference Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows? What Is The Difference Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows? Read More . 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 Low Disk Space? 5 Native Windows Tools To Free Up Storage Space Low Disk Space? 5 Native Windows Tools To Free Up Storage Space Don't download a fishy third party tool to reclaim valuable disk space! Windows has its own tools for the job and they're easy to use. Read More . 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 Free Up Disk Space by Removing Windows.old Folder Free Up Disk Space by Removing Windows.old Folder Windows prepares an automatic backup before you re-install. The Windows.old folder includes user profiles and personal files. Here's how to restore the data and remove the folder to free up space. Read More  to salvage additional disk space.

When moving from a hard disk drive to a solid state drive Hard Drives, SSDs, Flash Drives: How Long Will Your Storage Media Last? Hard Drives, SSDs, Flash Drives: How Long Will Your Storage Media Last? How long will hard drives, SSDs, flash drives continue to work, and how long will they store your data if you use them for archiving? Read More , 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?

  1. Read and Share
    February 18, 2016 at 2:20 am

    My travel computer is an Android tablet. My home computer is a Win 10 laptop with touch screen. I don't use a single 'modern' app. Between my Chrome browser/extensions and my traditional Win apps, I feel they do a more complete (and better) job than modern apps.

    Just curious and wondering how many out there use both legacy and modern apps together on the same machine?

  2. Howard Blair
    February 16, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    If Microsoft had promoted "portable" apps, instead of tying every program to the Windows Registry, things would be much easier today.
    Fortunately, PortableApps.com, PortableFreeware.com, and other great programmers (Nir Sofer, among others) have come to the rescue.

    There used to be a program from Symantec that allowed you to "bundle up" an app, with all its Registry entries and DLL dependencies, then "re-install" it, with all its settings, on another PC.

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