Most of the time, regular users do not scavenge the system drive. Still, sometimes, in an attempt to clean a computer and reclaim storage, users visit the drive C: and start removing apps and folders with various degrees of success. Thus, a user can find the hidden AppData folder. What is the AppData folder in Windows 10 (and 11)? How to open the AppData folder in Windows? Can you remove the AppData folder? This article will answer all your questions.
Microsoft introduced the AppData folder in Windows 7 in 2009. Since then, it is an integral part of the operating system. The AppData folder lives in a profile folder for each Windows user. Apps on your computer save various user-specific files and settings. For example, Minecraft, one of the most popular games in the world, stores worlds and saves in the AppData folder.
It is worth mentioning that apps with global settings (settings that apply to each user on a single computer) keep their files the C:\ProgramData folder.
How to open the AppData folder in Windows?
Windows hides the AppData folder by default. Also, hidden files and folders are not visible by default (hence the name). Here is how you can find the AppData folder on Windows 10 and 11.
Open AppData Folder on Windows 10
- Open File Explorer and click the View tab.
- Place a checkmark next to the Hidden items option.
- Now go to the C:\Users\Your username folder and open the hidden AppData folder (it has a transparent icon).
Open AppData folder on Windows 11
- To open the AppData folder in Windows 11, open File Explorer and click View > Show > Hidden Items. That makes hidden files and folders visible.
- Go to the C:\Users\Your username folder.
There is another way to open the AppData folder in Windows 10 and 11. You can press Win + R and enter %USERPROFILE%\AppData. Alternatively, paste %USERPROFILE%\AppData into the address bar in File Explorer. Note that that action does not require enabling hidden files and folders as the command gets you directly to the needed directory.
What is AppData folder?
The AppData folder on Windows 10 and 11 has three additional folders: Local, LocalLow, and Roaming. Here is what do they do:
- Local. This folder stores device-specific settings and temporary files. There is a separate environment variable %LOCALAPPDATA% for this folder that you can use in your batch files and scripts.
- LocalLow. Here Windows stores mainly buffer data generated by various apps (Internet Explorer, Java, Adobe, etc.). It is also used by low-level access systems, for example, for temporary files of your browser when working in protected mode. This directory also cannot be moved to another computer.
- Roaming. You can transfer files in this folder to another computer. The Roaming folder stores browser data, bookmarks, etc. This directory allows users to always work with a familiar environment on any server in the Remote Desktop Services farm when using roaming profiles or User Profile Disks. The environment variable for this directory is %APPDATA%.
How to clean AppData folder?
The AppData directory over time accumulates quite a lot of files and other garbage, which takes a lot of disk space. You can clean the AppData\Local\Temp directory without any harm to Windows.
The AppData folder becomes larger with each new app you install. The more programs and games on your computer, the larger the size of the AppData folder. Windows itself doesn’t control the size of this folder, which means its growth is totally uncontrolled and is not limited.
More importantly, uninstalling a program or game usually does not remove files in the AppData folder. As a result, the AppData folder becomes filled with files and folders you no longer need or use.
Important. Do not Shift + Delete the app folder. Such a barbaric method will harm other apps on your computer. There is a dedicated tool for cleaning the AppData folder in Windows.
A standard disk cleanup utility in Windows 10 and 11 is what you need to clean the AppData folder.
- Press Win + I and go to System > Storage.
- Click your system drive, then select Temporary files.
- On the next screen, select Temporary Internet Files and Temporary Files.
- Click the Remove Files button and wait for Windows to delete all unnecessary files.
To save space on the system drive, you can also move the Roaming folder to another partition or drive. That will help you if the AppData cleanup did not solve the problem.
- Open the AppData folder on the system drive and right-click the Roaming folder.
- Click the Location tab and specify a new location for the folder.
- Click the Move button.
In a similar fashion, you can specify a new location for the Temp folder. That will help you clean the AppData folder on Windows 10 and 11.
- Create a new Temp folder on a non-system drive. For example, on a drive D.
- Press Win + R and enter the sysdm.cpl.
- In the System Properties window, click the Advanced tab.
- Click the Environment Variables button.
- Select TEMP and click the Edit button.
- Specify the path to the previously created folder on another drive.
- Repeat the same for the TMP variable.
As an option, launch Command Prompt with elevated privileges and execute the following command to create an AppData directory junction (symbolic link):
mklink /d C:\Users\%UserName%\AppData X:\username\appdata
Replace X with appropriate drive letter. Next, sign in with a new profile with administrative privileges and move the folder to the new location.
The issue I run into isn’t so much temp files in AppData, but rather other junk files in AppData left by applications that were removed. It would be nice if there was an easy way to get rid of this old and unused data that just eats up space.
Thanks for this article which gives a decent insight in to the workings of the appdata folder. Most of the bloat in appdata comes from the browsing folders and application folders within the roaming area of Appdata and there is no way to clean it. I hope MS will one in the distant future provide that. We may not be living by then and windows OS may not be in operation even.
Wow serious help and so well explained.
Cleared up 25%+ of stuff that now sits on my D drive and my SSD has room for more games :-)
Very helpful, thank you. I only did the temporary files and roaming folder and cleared up 25+ GB.
An excellent article with very safe suggestions. If you have a (Windows Linux Subsystem) shell installed, you can type a few linux commands with ‘du’ to see a little more granulararity what is in %APPDATA%:
# search for Gigabytes
root@rferrisxASUS:/mnt/c/Users/rferrisx/AppData# du -d 3 -h | grep -P ‘[0-9]G’
root@rferrisxASUS:/mnt/c/Users/rferrisx/AppData/Local/Google# du -d 3 -h | grep -P ‘[0-9]G’
1.8G ./Chrome/User Data
# search for Megabytes
root@rferrisxASUS:/mnt/c/Users/rferrisx/AppData/Local/Google# du -d 3 -h | grep -P ‘[0-9]M’
4.0M ./Chrome/User Data/BrowserMetrics
3.3M ./Chrome/User Data/ClientSidePhishing
7.7M ./Chrome/User Data/Crashpad
938M ./Chrome/User Data/Default
22M ./Chrome/User Data/GrShaderCache
231M ./Chrome/User Data/Guest Profile
7.0M ./Chrome/User Data/hyphen-data
5.2M ./Chrome/User Data/MediaFoundationWidevineCdm
7.8M ./Chrome/User Data/OnDeviceHeadSuggestModel
18M ./Chrome/User Data/pnacl
29M ./Chrome/User Data/PnaclTranslationCache
194M ./Chrome/User Data/Profile 1
31M ./Chrome/User Data/Safe Browsing
9.1M ./Chrome/User Data/ShaderCache
26M ./Chrome/User Data/SwReporter
231M ./Chrome/User Data/System Profile
1.7M ./Chrome/User Data/ZxcvbnData
 WSL install instructions at https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/install