By default, Windows installs all the programs in C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86) directory depending on the type of Windows 10 and program you are installing.
You might want to change the default installation directory if your “C” drive is running out of free space. While some programs allow you select the install drive and directory, most programs don’t offer the option to select installation drive. For instance, setup of antivirus programs like Kaspersky Internet Security and Norton don’t offer an option to select the default installation directory during the product installation.
If you want to change the default installation location of programs in Windows 10/8/7, there is an easy workaround. You just need to edit the registry to change the default installation directory or path. And if you want to move installed programs, please refer to our how to move installed programs to another drive in Windows 10 guide.
To start with this guide, make sure you have enough free space in your new directory which you are going to make as default one.
You need to do a small registry change in order to change your default installation directory as follows:
Changing default installation directory
IMPORTANT: We recommend you create a manual system restore point or backup registry so that you can easily restore original settings if required.
WARNING: This is an advanced guide. So, proceed at your own risk.
Step 1: Type “regedit” in Start menu/taskbar search box or in Run dialog box and hit enter key to continue.
Step 2: Navigate to the following registry key in the Registry Editor: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion
Step 3: On the right-side, locate the value named “ProgramFilesDir” and change the default value “C:\Program Files” to your new directory path (address).
Next, find ProgramFileDir (x86), double-click on it and change it value data to a location where you want to install programs by default.
Step 4: Finally, close the registry editor and reboot your system to apply the change. You might need to restart your computer to apply the change. Download a program and try to install it and check if it’s installed in the new installation directory.
If you are experiencing any issues, please restore Windows 10 to an earlier date using the previously created restore point.
PS: This tweak should work fine with Windows XP and Vista as well.
Don’t forget to check out how to move installed apps to another drive in Windows 10 guide.