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 programs to another drive.

Let us show you how to move an app or program to another drive.

How to Move Apps & Programs to Another Drive

It’s quick to move most of the native Windows apps, but the process of moving anything else will require additional work. First, we’ll outline the process for Microsoft Store apps, then we will take a look at traditional desktop programs.

Modern Apps

Press Windows key + I to bring up the Settings menu and click Apps. You should be on the Apps & features page of the left-hand navigation.

Here you will find a list of all apps and programs installed on your system. Some of these apps might have come with your system, the others you installed yourself. This method will only work with the latter group.

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 again.

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

If the Move button is greyed out, it means it’s a Windows 10 app that can’t be moved. If you see a Modify button instead, it’s a traditional desktop program and you’ll need to follow the method outlined below.

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 to Factory Reset Windows 10 or Use System Restore How to Factory Reset Windows 10 or Use System Restore Learn how System Restore and Factory Reset can help you survive any Windows 10 disasters and recover your system. 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 between drives, but will actually work on any program. You can use it to move programs from your HDD to SSD 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 , for example.

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.

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

Underneath the More storage settings heading, click Change where new content is saved. To change the default drive for new apps, use the New apps will save to: dropdown.

app save locations

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

Desktop Programs

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.

Create a restore point before you move any app

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

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's the Difference Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit Windows? What's the Difference Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit Windows? What's the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows? Here's a simple explanation and how to check which version you have. 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.

Clean Up Your Drive

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

And if you want to salvage even more disk space, consider deleting old Windows files and folders Delete These Windows Files and Folders to Free Up Disk Space Delete These Windows Files and Folders to Free Up Disk Space Want to clear disk space on your Windows computer? Take a look at these Windows files and folders you can safely delete. Read More . Along with having moved your programs to another drive, you’ll have a superbly organized drive.

Explore more about: Computer Maintenance, Install Software, Organization Software, Windows 10.

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  1. stephen holman
    October 21, 2019 at 10:40 am

    very handy tips! thank you!

  2. IgnitedIce
    November 26, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Win+I, not ctrl+I

  3. Jason St. Louis
    April 10, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    By changing the default install directory this will only affect new installs, correct? My current programs will remain in the directory on my C drive, correct? Does install dir changer do the same thing as if I went into the registry and changed the default path? All I am trying to do is install iTunes on a drive other than my C drive as it always defaults to my C drive when I install even when I choose a different drive. I don't have the space on my C drive to install it. My plan is after the install to change the default back to the C drive as it was originally so as not to affect some of the complications Microsoft warns about, but then does this mean every time an iTunes update comes out I will have to change the default install path again?

    Thank you!

  4. Gerard
    August 16, 2017 at 3:18 am

    This was the most helpful thing I've read today. I've used steam mover in the past but I had no idea it now moves other programmes

  5. Nitin
    April 19, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Is there any way to change the location to store new app using command prompt?

  6. Claire Brown
    December 30, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Is installing Modern Apps and Desktop Programs on an external drive a way to preserve settings, etc. when reinstalling Windows? In other words, is there a method to import/migrate the Apps and Programs from the external drive into a clean install of Win 10? Thanks.

  7. Anonymous
    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?

  8. Anonymous
    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.