How to Find and Use the AppData Folder in Windows

Discover what's in this hidden folder

Every Windows computer contains a hidden folder called AppData. Most users never need to access this folder, and messing around with it can cause problems on your computer if you don't know what you're doing.

However, you may one day need to how to access this folder and what data is contained inside of it. If you're unsure about dealing with this type of data, create a backup of your system in case something goes awry.

The instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8 and 8.1, and Windows 7.

What Is the AppData Folder?

The AppData folder contains all the data specific to your Windows user profile. This means that your data can be transferred from one device to another as long as you sign in with the same profile.

Several apps use the AppData folder so it's easy to keep data synced between devices. Internet browsers, such as Firefox, store your profiles and bookmarks in the AppData folder. Email programs, like Thunderbird or Outlook, also store data in this folder. Many computer games' Save files wind up in the AppData folder.

How to Unhide AppData Folder in Windows

There are a couple of ways to get to the AppData folder. You can find it through Windows Search or by making Hidden Folders visible and navigating to it directly.

  • Windows Search: In the Search Bar on your Windows Toolbar, type %appdata% and press Enter. This opens the AppData folder in Windows Explorer.
  • Make Hidden Folders Visible: The AppData folder is hidden, so you have to toggle an option in your Settings to find it without searching directly.

How to Find the AppData Folder in Windows 10, 8, and 8.1

After you unhide the file, here's how to find the folder if you can't use search to find it.

  1. Open the Control Panel.

  2. Select File Explorer Options.

    Windows Control Panel showing File Explorer Options
  3. Select the View tab of the File Explorer Options window.

    The View tab of the File Explorer Options window
  4. Choose Show hidden files, folders, and drives. Press Apply to save any changes and then select OK.

    The Show hidden files, folders, and drives in the View tab
  5. The AppData folder is located at C:\users\YOURNAME, where YOURNAME is your Windows profile ID.

    The AppData folder

Find the AppData Folder in Windows 7

The process for finding your hidden AppData folder in Windows 7 is slightly different because of differences in the user interface. Use these quick steps to find the folder.

  1. Click the folder icon in the taskbar at the bottom of your screen to open the File Explorer.

  2. When the File Explorer opens, click Organize and then from the menu that appears, select Folders and search options.

  3. In the Folder Options window, select the View tab, and make sure the option for Show hidden files, folders, and drives is selected. Click Apply to save any changes and then click OK.

  4. Next, in the Windows Explorer panel on the left, click the C: Drive one time to open the Folders view below it.

  5. Double-click the Users folder to open it.

  6. Double-click the username for which you want to open the AppData folder. This expands a long list of folders available to that user.

  7. Double-click the AppData folder to open it.

What Can I Do With the AppData Files?

You never want to move or delete files from the AppData folder; doing so can break whatever program those files are connected to. If you want to back up data or transfer certain things from one device to another, you can to copy the files to cloud storage or a flash drive so that you can keep the folder intact on your current device.

This can be useful if you want to transfer saved files or games from one device to another, have set up specific settings that you want to guarantee transfer over, or you want to keep backups of your options and data.

Again, the AppData folder is something that most users never need to poke around in. That said, it's useful to know how to access the folder and what you can find there, in case you ever need to do so.

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