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How to retrieve the user's "My Documents" folder

Posted on 2006-06-14
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I want to copy some document templates to the user's "My Documents" folder at setup time. In my C++ program I need to read from that folder. Though the folder mostly is located at "%userprofile%\My Documents" there is a chance that the user moved it to some other path.

I found out that the path of the folder was stored in registry at "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Personal". I easily could read that value in C++.

I also found a VB code snippet by googling that retrieves the folder name by

   from win32com.shell import shell
   df = shell.SHGetDesktopFolder()
   pidl = df.ParseDisplayName(0, None,  
    "::{450d8fba-ad25-11d0-98a8-0800361b1103}")[1]
   mydocs = shell.SHGetPathFromIDList(pidl)

I am weak in VB but I think I would be able to convert the snippet to C++.

I have a few questions related to that:

1. Are these solutions equivalent and valid? Means, do they always retrieve a valid path name?
2. Isn't there an easier solution, e. g. using a predefined name like %mydocs%?
3. If not, does anyone know another solution that can be used in a batch file?

Thanks in advance

Regards Alex
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Question by:itsmeandnobodyelse
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23 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Axter
ID: 16901224
You should be able to use SHGetSpecialFolderLocation
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Accepted Solution

by:
Axter earned 1600 total points
ID: 16901229
Here's a copy and paste code example from another PAQ:

#include <windows.h>
#include <shlobj.h>
#include <shlwapi.h>

bool GetDesktopFolder (char *szDesktopDir)
{
    HRESULT hr;
    ITEMIDLIST *pidl;

    hr = SHGetSpecialFolderLocation (0,
              CSIDL_DESKTOPDIRECTORY, &pidl);
    szDesktopDir[0] = '\0';
    if (hr == NOERROR)
    {
        BOOL rtn;
        rtn = SHGetPathFromIDList (pidl, szDesktopDir);
        return rtn == TRUE ? true : false;
    }
    return false; // SHGetSpecialFolderLocation failed
}
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Expert Comment

by:Axter
ID: 16901238
For your requirements, you'll want to use CSIDL_MYDOCUMENTS  or CSIDL_COMMON_DOCUMENTS.

    hr = SHGetSpecialFolderLocation (0,
              CSIDL_MYDOCUMENTS, &pidl);
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Expert Comment

by:Axter
ID: 16901243
For this code you need shell32.lib, and you should have the latest SDK installed.
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Author Comment

by:itsmeandnobodyelse
ID: 16901249
>>>> SHGetSpecialFolderLocation

Unfortunately, SHGetSpecialFolderLocation has no predefined index for the "My Documents" folder. There is no id like CSIDL_DESKTOPDIRECTORY.

Regards, Alex


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Author Comment

by:itsmeandnobodyelse
ID: 16901272
>>>> CSIDL_MYDOCUMENTS  

That id doesn't exist on my VC6 system. Does it come with VC7 or VC8?

Did you know of CSIDL_PERSONAL?

Regards, Alex


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Assisted Solution

by:rstaveley
rstaveley earned 400 total points
ID: 16901278
Looking at http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsServer/en/Library/bdfedadf-0e81-43b8-befc-a8a003810c751033.mspx?mfr=true you don't appear to have the definitive way to find My Documents, though you'd expect it always to work. Seems to me like your  HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Personal setting is a better bet.
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Author Comment

by:itsmeandnobodyelse
ID: 16901294
>>>> and you should have the latest SDK installed.

That might become a problem cause it's a customer's environment.

Do you know whether the registry solution (Q1) is valid?

Regards, Alex


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Author Comment

by:itsmeandnobodyelse
ID: 16901313
>>>> Seems to me like your ... setting is a better bet.

I found the folder path in

   HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Personal

and

   HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\Personal


What do you think is the better one?

Regards, Alex
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Author Comment

by:itsmeandnobodyelse
ID: 16901323
>>>> CSIDL_PERSONAL

I found it in shlobj.h. I'll give it a try.

Regards, Alex
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Expert Comment

by:rstaveley
ID: 16901334
"User Shell Folders" is the per user one, methinks. Presumably "Shell Folders" is for any user created by the user?? Sorry, I'm guessing Alex.
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Expert Comment

by:Axter
ID: 16901336
>>That id doesn't exist on my VC6 system. Does it come with VC7 or VC8?

As I stated, you need to have the latest SDK on your machine.
CSIDL_MYDOCUMENTS works with VC6 if you have the latest SDK installed.
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Expert Comment

by:Axter
ID: 16901347
>>you don't appear to have the definitive way to find My Documents

You do have a definitve way.  Just use CSIDL_MYDOCUMENTS.
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Expert Comment

by:Axter
ID: 16901366
>>Did you know of CSIDL_PERSONAL?

I've never used it, but here's what MSDN saids about it:
CSIDL_PERSONAL (0x0005)
The file system directory used to physically store a user's common repository of documents. A typical path is C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents. This should be distinguished from the virtual My Documents folder in the namespace, identified by CSIDL_MYDOCUMENTS. To access that virtual folder, use SHGetFolderLocation, which returns the ITEMIDLIST for the virtual location, or refer to the technique described in Managing the File System.

From above statement, it's not very clear to me what's the difference between CSIDL_PERSONAL and CSIDL_MYDOCUMENTS.
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Expert Comment

by:Axter
ID: 16901373
>>but I guess there still exist Windows 98 users.
You could add extra logic in the code for Win9x machines.
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Expert Comment

by:rstaveley
ID: 16901374

>>>you don't appear to have the definitive way to find My Documents

>You do have a definitve way.  Just use CSIDL_MYDOCUMENTS.

I meant using 450d8fba-ad25-11d0-98a8-0800361b1103, which is what the link refers to. I wan't referring to your idea, David, which I hadn't seen, when I posted. I had browser lag, because my cat had kittens while I had Alex's initial post open :-)
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Author Comment

by:itsmeandnobodyelse
ID: 16901391
>>>> You do have a definitve way.  Just use CSIDL_MYDOCUMENTS.

It works with CSIDL_PERSONAL.

>>>> Sorry, I'm guessing Alex.

No problem. It's most likely redundant.

I will use Axter's way for the programmatical access and the registry way for the batch (cause I already have a prog that was able to assign an environtment variable with a registry entry).

Regards, Alex


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Expert Comment

by:Axter
ID: 16901490
Are you guys getting a major lag for email notification?
I'm getting email notifications about 15-30 minutes later.

I'm not sure if it's my server, or EE.
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Author Comment

by:itsmeandnobodyelse
ID: 16901540
>>>> Are you guys getting a major lag for email notification?

No, the lags I had in the thread here have been due to typing lags. My notifications have been in the same minute as in EE.

Regards, Alex

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Expert Comment

by:rstaveley
ID: 16901634
> Are you guys getting a major lag for email notification?

It's quick for me too.
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Expert Comment

by:Axter
ID: 16902318
Must be my server then.

Thanks
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Expert Comment

by:rstaveley
ID: 16902394
You may be able tell where the hold-up is by looking at the chain of "Received:" headers (weirdly this is View | Options in MS Outlook).
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