Windows 7 C:\users\username\documents does not exist, access denied

99scooter used Ask the Experts™
Why does Windows 7 create My Videos, My Pictures and My Music shortcuts that point to
C:\users\username\documents\ when that path does not exist.
How can I delete these shortcuts so we do not confuse and/or anger our 5000+ user base.
I am a seasoned IT professional, and have spent hours trying to determine why I can not access
my own My Videos, My Pictures & My Music shortcuts (even when logged in as administrator).
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do you get any errors or you jsut cant fidn the file. mabe its a virtual store which u need to access diffrently - C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Local\VirtualStore

is it that you get a security error ? Do you have ownership of the folder ?

Mabe  your domain policy is redirecting your user profile there ,... or just your my documents folder
Top Expert 2014

this shorcuts is generaly hidden,
On the explorer, go to Tools Menu, Folder Options, View tab, and uncheck 'Show hidden files'
Your users should not able to see them by default
Top Expert 2012

Leakim971 is exactly right.  Those are hidden shortcuts, otherwise known as Junction Points.  They have been around since the Vista/Server 2008 release, and they aren't meant to be utilized as a user shortcut.  That's why they were designed as hidden operating system files.  In most cases, the end-user environment isn't configured to allow a standard/limited user to see hidden OS files.

Here is a more in-depth explanation regarding Junction Points:
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Subfolders of C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME should be accessible, "C:\Documents and Settings" is a Junction which maps to C:\Users for backwards compatibility, "C:\Documents and Settings" is not accessible. If the Documents folder in C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME has a shortcut icon (folder with a white square with an arrow in it) then it is redirected by policy by your network administrator. If none of the above makes sense then make sure all your folders are unhidden, right click them choose properties and check the security tab to make sure you have permissions and you are the owner (Advanced button on the security tab).


I understand that they are junction points, and that we can hide them using Hidden files and folders. But we a have 5000+ user base (many are mobile users) and we have some apps that require displaying Hidden files and folders. The fact that the shortcuts point through a location that does not exist "C:\Users\username\documents" does not make any sense to me as an IT professional, and I know it won't make sense to our user base. This is such a waste of time and effort for our IT staffs and users. We are rolling out 2000+ laptops with USMT in just a few weeks - I want these shortcuts to disappear (programatically) whether Hidden files and folders are enabled or not.
Top Expert 2012

Just to clarify, I don't believe it's a situation where that location does not exist.  You are simply seeing an Access Denied message because Junction Points are protected files.  If you navigate directly to "C:\Users\username\documents" the location still exists.

While your frustration is understandable, please remember that Junction Points were created to allow legacy programs to work properly within current versions of Windows.  Your particular scenario is rather rare, since it is very unusual when end-users actually need to see hidden operating system files to perform their standard duties.

Based upon my research, I'm afraid that there doesn't seem to be a way to specifically hide the Junction Points.  In order to see them, you actually need to configure both Show hidden files, folders, and drives as well as unchecking Hide protected operating system files.  To their credit, Microsoft made them as hidden and unobtrusive as possible.

Hopefully someone else within the EE community may know of a third-party application (or something similar) that will help alleviate your concerns.


Thank you Run5k...
Of all of the Win7 computers I have examined to date, including my home lab enviro and our work enviro (using totally different install processes), the C:\Users\username\documents folder does not exist (with or without admin rights).
The shortcuts I am most concerned with are the My Videos, My Music & My Pictures as these are the folders our users are most likely to try to access (and these are the shortcuts that point through c:\users\NTID\documents), AND
Additionally, since most of our users are remote Sales people, we are sending them an external HD with their new laptops; the ext HD contains the executables runs the USMT backup and restore process for their User Profile from XP to Win7. With Don't show Hidden files, folders and drives checked, they can not see the executable on the ext HD.
Is there a way inwhich to make an executable on an ext HD visible to a typical end-user while at the same time hidding Hidden files, folders and drives?

It is a delima... This is very difficult to explain to both the end-user and management, as management is already concerned about potentially high volume at the helpdesk during this rollout. This is a very visible rollout to our Sales people.
Top Expert 2012
99scooter, have you tried configuring your machines so that they do Show hidden files, folders, and drives but not unchecking Hide protected operating system files?  In my experience, the Junction Points are only visible when you reveal protected operating system files, while merely showing the hidden files leaved them unseen.

Also, I think that I may be able to help clarify the misunderstanding regarding the Documents folder path.  Please take a minute to read this TechNet article that helps explain things:

Get the Full Path of a Folder or File in Windows 7

Using my current desktop computer as an example, in Windows Explorer the initial view within the address bar shows what you see at the top of the following picture.  However, once you reveal the full path to that folder hierarchy, it shows that the actual folder is C:\Users\{username}\Documents:

 Documents Folder Path


Thank you Run5k!

This is why I joined Experts-Exchange, although I usually just peruse for answers only, this is the first time I have been compelled to ask a question.

I had not tried that particular combination of Show Hidden Files, Folders and Drives and Hide Protected Operating System Files.

Now I need to incorporate this logic into our Migration Script to add functionality and consistency across the board.

Thank you very much.

IT is still a wonder - wonder if this will work, lets try this...
Top Expert 2012

Glad to help!  Believe me, it's a never-ending learning experience for all of us.
Top Expert 2012

As a quick addendum to provide a bit more perspective regarding the folder hierarchy, here is a screenshot of my Windows 7 user profile folder as seen from a Linux-based live CD environment.  It clearly shows the standard folders that exist within a Windows 7 profile (including C:\Users\{username}\Documents), as well as the hidden folders and operating system Junction Points.

 Windows 7 Profile

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