How to change the default Google Desktop Data index folder

Google desktop search uses a folder in which it stores its index files. This folder called “Google Desktop Data” is by default place in the “My Documents” folder of your pc. To me that’s not a logical place though as I only want to have files I actively use to be in the “Mt Documents” folders. Music, Video, Word-files and spreadsheets are fine, index files from a search tool are not.

Unfortunately Google Desktop does not offer the ability to change the location of its index files. This is what you have to do if you want another location for the Google Desktop Data folder:

  1. Stop Google Desktop (Right-click the tray icon->Exit)
  2. Move Google Desktop Data directory to the desired location.
  3. Run regedit (go to start -> Run… -> regedit)
  4. Locate HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Google Desktop\data_dir
  5. Change its value to the location, chosen in step 2
  6. Start Google Desktop again
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By Leendert

Leendert van Achteren is a Business Analyst and part-time Web Entrepreneur. He's building and managing websites with SEO in mind He's writing about anything that has his interest, but especially focusing on market transparency for consumers.


  1. just try this
    creat a txt file:
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Google Desktop]
    “data_dir”=”F:\\Google desktop data”
    save as “Google desktop.reg”
    open it

  2. To find the data_dir you need to make sure youre in the registry under HKEY_CURRENT_USER. (Very Important)
    If you are accidentally looking under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE then you won’t be able to find it.

  3. Thank You very much for Your recipe. So simply solution is the most difficult to find 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for this. My Index file was 9GB and since it was located in “My Documents” folder it was part of my roaming profile on our servers. Signing in and out of my computer took ages because it transfered the index to and from the server every time.

    This fixed the issue so thanks alot!

  5. Depends which version of Google you use. Google Desktop Enterprise stores its index under “C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop” which is a much more logical location.

    However, if being used on a terminal server, this causes the C: drive to become full very quickly, if you have a lot of files on your network. Our user’s google index is currently 3GB each, as we have 400,000+ files.

    I’d really like to find a way to redirect the index file path, for all users current & future, to a different drive. I could go through the registry and change each entry for “HKCU\Software\Google\Google Desktop\data_dir”, but this will take time, and not change for future users that might logon. I wish there was a common entry under “HKLM\Software\Google\Google Desktop” where you could set the default index location, that took precedence over all users!

  6. Hi Leendert

    Nice and concise!

    My index was so large that I decided to create an emty folder on the new drive, do the reg hack, delete the original folder totally and just reindex the whole lot.

    Of course this (reindexing) takes ages but in my case I didn’t mind it as it’s on a computer that’s not used much (pretty much purely for trawling through years worth of docs and rubbish) and I had to get going so reindexing is better than me waiting for the huge move to complete and then have to start Desktop again.

    Thanks for your post!

  7. This works fine if you have an external drive connected to a Laptop. However, I may not want my external drive to be connected to the Laptop always. When the Google Desktop cannot locate this External Hard Drive, it resets data_dir to its original location on the local hard drive. Is there a way to instruct the Google Desktop to not reset this location in the event it cannot find the data_dir location ? It is quickly becoming a pain for me.

  8. This is a very good solution. Thanks. Google’s official help page says that currently changing the directory is not possible. 😀

  9. If the registry entry for data_dir not found, then give search on google folder for the data_dir key. then you will find this registry key. The registry entry for data_dir is moved to common folder under Google key. This will happen when you have more than one google product installed.

  10. Elvis,
    exactly where are the pictures now? What’s the name of the folder? Did you try to copy the pictures instead of moving them? What error message do you get?

  11. Dear,

    Accidentally my kid has moved some picture folders to “Google Desktop Data” folder and now I can’t access those pictures. I already tried to do many things: cut and paste, changing folder properties, etc.
    Do you know how to proceed in order to release those data?

    Many tks,

  12. Interesting case Miki. Do you have the Google Desktop entry in your registry at all?
    Try to add it. You can always remove it again if it doesn’t work.

  13. I dont have the data_dir reg value, is it ok if I add it? will it work in that case?

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