Standard folders

Warning This help topic refers to a previous version of InstallMate. It has not been updated for InstallMate 9 yet.

The standard folders on computers with the Windows operating system can be subdivided roughly as follows.

General system-dependent folders
This category includes, among others, C:\Program Files and subfolders, and C:\Windows and subfolders. The folders in this category contain the Windows system files and the installed application (program) files.
Profile-dependent folders
This includes C:\Documents and Settings and its subfolders on Windows 2000 and XP, or C:\Users or C:\ProgramData on Windows Vista and later, (on previous Windows versions alternative names included C:\WINNT\Profiles and various others). The folders in this category typically store files with configuration or other changeable data, either on a per-machine or on a per-user basis. They also contain the shortcuts that are visible on the Windows Desktop and its Start menu.

The actual names and locations of these standard system folders depend on the version of Windows, on its localization, and sometimes on user preferences. Profile-dependent folders also depend on the login name of the user account to which they belong: each user has his or her own set of profile-dependent folders, with a separate "All Users" profile that is shared by all.

Note: For a general introduction to installation folder handling in InstallMate, see Files and folders.

Profile-dependent folders

Profile-dependent folders are typically used to install shortcuts and sometimes application- or user-specific configuration data. Which profile-dependent folders to use depends on the installation type.

The difference between the All Users and the Current User profile trees is only relevant for Windows NT-based systems (NT4, 2000, XP, 2003, and later). Windows 95, 98, and Me have only very limited support for different user accounts; for most practical purposes, they can be considered as having only an All Users profile.

Run-time behavior

InstallMate fully supports both the All Users profile tree and the Current User profile tree. During Current User installations, it will map the All Users tree to the Current User tree, but otherwise the two profile trees are independent. The same mapping is also applied to any custom folders that you might install in the All Users tree; they too are automatically mapped to their Current User equivalent during a Current User installation.

As a result, InstallMate can install both All Users and Current User files and shortcuts during a All Users installation. This is useful if you want to give the Current User (i.e., the installing user) additional shortcuts over and beyond the shortcuts installed for all other users. For example, if the installing user is an Administrator who is performing a All Users installation, you could install the normal application shortcuts for All Users, but place the uninstallation shortcut and perhaps some maintenance shortcuts under the Administrator's Current User tree, where they would be inaccessible to other users.

Folder tree Current User installation All Users installation
All Users Mapped to Current User tree during installation All Users tree
Current User Current User tree Current User tree
Program Files Mapped to the Current User\Application Data tree during installation Remains under Program Files

General recommendations

InstallMate packages have no significant restrictions on profile-dependent folders. All standard profile-dependent folders are available for installation and any custom folders that you create in a profile tree will install as expected.

Shortcut recommendations

We recommend that you place your main shortcuts in the All Users profile, in particular All Users\Desktop, All Users\Start Menu, All Users\Start Menu\Programs, and its subfolders. You can place additional shortcuts in the Current User tree if you wish. This will behave exactly as specified, and will adjust to Current User installations in a predictable manner. If you have separate All Users and Current User shortcuts, they will be installed separately during All Users installations; for Current User installations they are combined.

Profile-dependent folder tree

The following table shows in detail how the various profile-dependent folders behave under InstallMate.

Folder Symbolic reference
All Users
Application Data
Start Menu
Administrative Tools
Current User
Application Data
Local Settings
Application Data
Temporary Internet Files
My Documents
My Pictures
Start Menu
Administrative Tools