FAQ Desk: What is %AppData%



  • For a standard installation of Notepad++, the configuration files go in %AppData%\Notepad++. But not everyone knows what %AppData% means.

    The %xxx% notation is how Windows handles environment variables. %AppData% is one of the standard system environment variables (since at least Windows XP), which expands to the path where Windows likes storing per-application user-data.

    Environment variables can be used in virtually any standard Windows interface – whether it’s the cmd.exe or PowerShell command-line shells or a batch script; or whether it’s in the Windows Explorer (file/folder browser), where you can type it into the address bar; or whether it’s a File Open or File SaveAs window; or whether it’s a registry entry for associating a file with Notepad++ (or some other program).

    On standard Windows configurations for Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10, %AppData% expands to C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming.

    On older systems (Win 2000, Win XP), the %AppData% variable refers to C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data by default.

    On neither older systems nor newer systems do you need to include Roaming after the %AppData%, because the %AppData% variable already includes Roaming in the value.

    Thus trying to make use of %AppData%\Roaming\Notepad++ will expand to C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Roaming\Notepad++. This is not likely where you will find the configuration files.

    When many people write %AppData%\Roaming\Notepad++, they are really attempting to indicate that it’s ...\AppData\Roaming\Notepad++ – they see the \Roaming after the word AppData in the expanded path, so they assume that they can shortcut that to %AppData%\Roaming\Notepad++. However, that will likely not work:

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    If anyone can find a canonical (Microsoft) or semi-canonical (trustworthy Windows help site) that disagrees with my interpretation, or can show me a system with an out-of-the-box configuration where they have to go to a separate Roaming subdirectory after changing to %AppData%, I will publicly apologize and stop posting this. But every reference I’ve found matches my above description, and I have never seen a system where typing cd %AppData%\Roaming\Notepad++ at a command prompt, or pasting %AppData%\Roaming\Notepad++ into your Explorer window’s address bar would go to the right place.

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