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Using Mount Points in <i>My Documents</i>

Many programs that run on Microsoft Windows OSs default their Save As dialog boxes to your Documents or My Documents folder. The actual location of the directory is usually the C:\Users\<UserName>\Documents folder in Windows Vista and later or the C:\Documents and Settings\<UserName>\My Documents folder in Windows XP and earlier.

If you're like me and keep certain files on other drives (e.g., F drive, G drive), the My Documents landing spot causes extra work. For example, if you want to save a file to a folder on the G drive, you have to scroll up from the default Documents folder, collapse the C folder tree, and expand the G folder tree before you can navigate to the desired folder. Fortunately, Windows 2000 and later provides a utility called Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc), which you can use to create mount points. By creating a mount point that maps to an existing empty NTFS folder on an existing partition/drive letter, you can create a "shortcut." I found this to be a handy way to simplify navigation from the default document store on the C drive to a drive that I prefer, saving me time and clicks.

Here's how to create a mount-point shortcut:

  1. Open the Disk Management utility. Highlight the G drive/partition, right-click it, and select Change Drive Letter and Paths. In addition to seeing the current drive letter assignment of G: in the Change Drive Letter and Paths dialog box, you'll see an Add button. Click this button to open the Add Drive Letter or Path dialog box.
  2. In the Add Drive Letter or Path dialog box, make sure the Mount in the following empty NTFS folder option is enabled. Click the Browse button and navigate to the C:\Users\<UserName>\Documents folder (Vista and later) or the C:\Documents and Settings\<UserName>\My Documents folder (XP and earlier). Highlight that folder and click the New Folder button to create a new folder. Name it 1 G and click OK. In the Mount in the following empty NTFS folder field, you'll now see C:\Users\<UserName>\Documents\1 G (Vista and later) or C:\Documents and Settings\<UserName>\My Documents\1 G (XP and earlier). Press OK to exit the Add Drive Letter or Path dialog box.
  3. In the Change Drive Letter and Paths dialog box, you should now see the C:\Users\UserName\Documents\1 G entry in addition to the G: entry. Click OK to close the dialog box, then close the Disk Management utility.

Now when you open a Save As dialog box in a program, it will open to Documents or My Documents, but you'll see 1 G at the top of the Documents or My Documents folder tree. Figure 1 shows the Save As dialog box in Microsoft Word 2010. Click 1 G and you're immediately on the G drive/partition. By this time, you probably realize why the mount folder's name begins with the number 1 followed by a space—it causes the mount folder to be at the top of the folder list.

One last note about mount points: If you open the Windows Help and Support program in Windows 7 or Vista and search for mount volume, you'll see the Help article "Mount or dismount a drive." At the bottom of this article, there's a note that says, "The Recycle Bin does not recognize mounted drives, so if you try to delete a file that's stored in a mounted drive, you might receive an error. To bypass the Recycle Bin and permanently delete the file, click the file, and then press SHIFT+DELETE. When you permanently delete a file, you can't recover it unless you have a current backup copy of the file."

Based on my testing on Windows 7 and Vista, that isn't correct. I've had no problems deleting files on a mounted drive by right-clicking a file and selecting Delete. In addition, I've been able to restore those deleted files in the Recycle Bin by right-clicking a file and selecting Restore.

You can make a mount-point shortcut in Documents or My Documents (or elsewhere for that matter) for as many drives as needed. For more information, see the "Volume Mounts Points" section in the Windows 2000 Resource Kit article "Disk Management" at I hope mount points can save you some time and clicking.

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