A user Profile is a collection of personal data associated to a specific user. If you use a user ID to log in Windows 7, you will have a profile created by the system that is dedicated to you. No one else but the users who have the admin rights can access them. It’s a probably the most important data you are care about when using a windows computer.
Other than documents, pictures, or videos, a user profile also has a series of folders that stores some important data for specific applications. For example, Microsoft Outlook stores many settings, configuration files under AppData folder. Because of that, I often need to access those folders to either troubleshoot or copy over the settings. And most of the time, it wasn’t so easy because these folders are set to hidden by default. But here is a quick trick that I found and used to have saved so much my time.
The trick is to use the environment variables that are preset by the system when user logs into the computer. It’s deadly simple. To access any user’s AppData folder, simple type the following variable either in Windows Explorer’s Address Bar or from Start -> Run (WinKey + R):
Make sure you include both “%” symbol at the front and the end, as it’s the symbol that tells the system to go into the folder you specified.
The environment variables are vary depending on the system you are using and the software you have installed but there are some that are pretty much the same all the time. Here are a few to start:
%userprofile% – indicates where the user profiles are stored.
%localappdata% – indicates where the local appdata is stored, usually at: c:\users\username\appdata\local
%temp% – indicates where the temporary folder is located.
To find the full list of the variables that are available to you, simply use the command line “set”.
Give it a try and you may find it’s very useful.
Last updated: 08/04/2014