Standard folders

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.

Run-time behavior

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

As a result, InstallMate can install both All Users and Current User files and shortcuts during an 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 All Users installation Current User installation
Program Files Remains under Program Files Mapped to the Users\Current User\AppData (Local) tree during installation
(Public) folders Remain in the (Public) folders Mapped to corresponding Users\Current User folders during installation
Current User Users\Current User tree Users\Current User tree

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 Public profile, in particular Desktop (Public), Desktop (Public)\Start Menu, Desktop (Public)\Start Menu\Programs, and its subfolders. You can place additional shortcuts in the Users\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
Desktop (Public) <CommonDesktopFolder>
Start Menu <CommonStartMenuFolder>
Programs <CommonProgramMenuFolder>
<ProductName> <CommonProgramGroupFolder>
Administrative Tools <CommonAdminToolsFolder>
Startup <CommonStartupFolder>
ProgramData <CommonAppDataFolder>
<Publisher> <CommonCompanyAppDataFolder>
<ProductName> <CommonProductAppDataFolder>
InstallMate <TinFolder>
<ProductCode> <TinProductFolder>
Users <ProfilesFolder>
All Users (XP) <CommonProfileFolder>
Current User <ProfileFolder>
AppData (Local) <LocalAppDataFolder>
AppData (Roaming) <AppDataFolder>
Cookies <CookiesFolder>
Desktop <DesktopFolder>
Favorites <FavoritesFolder>
Local Settings (XP) <LocalSettingsFolder>
My Documents <PersonalFolder>
My Pictures <MyPicturesFolder>
NetHood <NetHoodFolder>
PrintHood <PrintHoodFolder>
Recent <RecentFolder>
SendTo <SendToFolder>
Start Menu <StartMenuFolder>
Programs <ProgramMenuFolder>
<ProductName> <ProgramGroupFolder>
Administrative Tools <AdminToolsFolder>
Startup <StartupFolder>
Templates <TemplateFolder>
Public <PublicFolder>
Public Documents <CommonDocumentsFolder>
Favorites <CommonFavoritesFolder>
Templates <CommonTemplateFolder>