Shared Desktop on Vista and Windows Server 2008

Sometimes I want to place a shortcut or file on the desktop of a server and want all users of the server to see it.  By default, if you save a file or folders to the desktop, it is placed on only your desktop.

Prior to Vista/2008, you could manage this by copying or moving a file/folder directly to

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop

On Vista and Windows Server 2008, there are some changes to the structure.  You may see the Documents and Settings folder, but if you double click on it, you will likely get an Access Denied error.  Have no fear, you can still access the user data.  Rather than using C:\Documents and Settings, the User data is in C:\Users now.  C:\Documents and Settings is now just a redirect for legacy code.  Actually, it’s not always on the C drive, but it usually is.  You can see where your profile is by typing the following in the command prompt:

echo %userprofile%

The other gotcha comes with trying to access the shared desktop.  Previously it was in the “%userprofile%\All Users\Desktop” folder.  If you try to access that folder, you will likely get an Access Denied error there too.  The issue isn’t with access here either.  It’s that the folder has been renamed.

Here’s the kicker.  The new path to the shared desktop is now:

   (Since shortcuts are used, it may show as C:\Users\Public\Public Desktop)

Note: It is a hidden folder, so if you haven’t already, make sure to set windows explorer to show hidden folders.

Additionally, you can redirect this folder or any of the user profile folders to another path or drive.  This is easy to do.  Simply right-click on the folder and select the Location tab. 


That’s all there is to keep in mind.  Remember the new folder name and you should be set.


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