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Change Default Home Directory


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  • Whenever you open a new project the default Home directory is My Documents\ArcGIS  (C:\Documents and Settings\YourUserName\My Documents\ArcGIS).  After you save your mxd, that location then becomes home.  I would like to set my default Home directory to always be a different location as I never use My Documents.  I never store anything on the C drive. Everytime I open up a new MXD I have to navigate away from Documents and Settings.   Please give me the ability to define my own default Home directory as I never want to se My Documents.  
    Tags :
     Home, Default Directory, Desktop
    Posted by   jan.benson_noaa  to ArcGIS DesktopFederal GovernmentNatural Resources Nov 4, 2010

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Comments (18)

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Jul 17, 2014
At sp5 this option won't be available in the Catalog Options, but there will be a registry key that is read on start-up for the default home folder which will control what directory the default geodatabase is written to. We will be posting a kb article on this topic as well as a script tool that can be used to update this registry key. I will add the link to this article when sp5 is released.

Dec 17, 2012
Even better would be to have the option to NOT set a default home directory or a default geodatabase -- it just doesn't work for multi-user environments.

Jul 17, 2012
Here is a kb article describing the procedure at 10 sp5 to change this location:

Jul 11, 2012
I uploaded a sample toobox to that can be used to modify this registry setting. This is an easy way to set this:

If you want to modify the registry directly, below are the steps:
  1. In Windows, click Start > Run.
  2. In the Run window, type 'regedit'. In the Registry Editor window, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > ESRI > Desktop 10 > ArcCatalog.
  3. Select Edit > New > Key and name it 'DefaultHomeFolder'.
  4. Right-click the new key DefaultHomeFolder, select New > String Value, and name it 'Location'.
  5. Double-Click the new string value 'Location' and change its value to the path of the desired home folder.

Jul 11, 2012
To: Chris Fox,

Now that SP5 is released, can you please post the instructions on how to change the default home folder?


Jun 22, 2012
This is resolved at 10.1 and 10 sp5. At 10.1 you will be able to set the default home folder for new documents from the Catalog Window Options. This directory will be the location in which the default geodatabase is created for new documents. At sp5 this option won't be available in the Catalog Options, but there will be a registry key that is read on start-up for the default home folder which will control what directory the default geodatabase is written to. We will be posting a kb article on this topic as well as a script tool that can be used to update this registry key. I will add the link to this article when sp5 is released.

Jun 22, 2012
For enterprise users with networked "My Documents" folders with limited storage space, this causes too many issues.

Apr 23, 2012
This seems like a no-brainer option to me. The home directory 'feature' is currently useless. It should be applied in exactly the same manner as the default database option. Right click...

Apr 20, 2012
The performance of ArcMap when the My documents folder is located on Network resources is terrible.  (Before you suggest that I not set things up that way, please understand my organization has set this standard not I.) 

Give us the option, that is what we are asking for options.

Feb 14, 2012
ESRI, please hear our voices and enable us to permanently choose a default working directory different than the C...MyDocuments...!

Jan 30, 2012

The company I work with just forced out GIS department to network there My Documents/My Desktop folders. As a rule I never use these folders for anything work related. They are not even real paths and rely on environmental variables. I access ArcMap on a vitrual machine from a different location so now my ArcMap folder from that "My Documents" has to be mirrored to this computers "My Documents". I deleted the whole directory as it was full of junk and let ArcMap regenerate a new empty gdb. Maybe now my computer will log on....... Would be a lot easier if I could change this. The stupid default gdb gives me permission errors half the time anyways when I use it by accident. This is all ridiculous. If I wanted my OS and software providers to manage my files I would by a Mac.... or maybe an iPhone...... trying to work here....

Nov 16, 2011
I fully agree that the location of the Home Directory should be an option that allows each installation and/or agency to decide where it's best suited to be situated. We have implimented Windows 7 with redirected folders. Amoung the redirected folders is My Documnets. While this may sound like a safe and sensible thing, in reality it makes ArcGIS increadably slow! All opening, saving of map documents and use of ArcToolbox is unbelievably slow. In tests I've done just by moving the default database to C: saves amazing amounts of time. And while this obviously points to the fault being our network, the inability to change the Home Directory stops me being able to solve the problem. Help me solve a problem that isn't ESRI's.

Mar 2, 2011
 An additional problem seems to be that the Home folder doesn't know what folder is directly above it. If I try to go up one level, it takes me all the way back to the folder connections.

Feb 22, 2011

@AAllardyce In regards to the location where basemap layers and ArcGIS Online content is unpackaged to you can change this location independent of the home directory.  You can change this location by going to C:\Program Files\Common Files\ArcGIS\bin and opening ArcGISFileHandler.exe. There is an option in the File Handler, Package Location Options, that controls where packages are unpacked.

Feb 18, 2011
The bigger problem is that if you change the location of you My Documents folder to a network drive, with Windows 7 you cannot index a mapped drive.  Our agency requires that we place my documents on a networked drive.  A lot of the new features in ArcGIS 10 such as Add Basemaps (Bing), Add from ArcGIS Online, the default gdb are now all being stored on our U: drive and because it cannot be indexed ArcMap cannot read the data.  This is more than a nuisance.  By not allowing us to choose our default home directory we are loosing a lot of very usefual functionality.  PLEASE modify the software to allow us to choose the Default Home Directory.

Dec 10, 2010
That's a great tip on how to change the location of the My Documents folder in Windows, but I could see where you may not want to do this, but still want to set the ESRI User Home directory to something other than My Documents.

Nov 4, 2010
I promoted this because its not something that can't change.  The more options we have the better.  What jbenson is saying is that the home feature as it is now is useless.  I do not like the idea that GIS data is created and stored on the local drive.  This is true is you are doing some adhoc work and do not have the network space or speed.  In a truely enterpise environment there is no backup of the local drive, only the network.  This feels like MS telling me that is my default home page and if I wanted to change it I should make a shortcut on my desktop to

Nov 4, 2010

The default location of the ESRI User Home (where the default.gdb is created) is based as you have seen on the user's home directory which is governed by Windows. You can change the default home location by modifying the windows setting for the location of the My Documents folder. It is not possible to set the default home directory to be something different then the My Documents folder, but it is possible to change the location of the My Documents folder for the user profile which intern will change the physical location of the default home directory for ArcGIS. Below is a kb document from Microsoft that walks you through the process of modifying this location.



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