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How to Access the AppData Folder

Application Data or 'AppData' is a hidden container folder consisting of all the files related to applications stored on your computer. Most users are not aware of its location on the computer. Read this Techspirited article which tells you how to find the AppData folder.
Prachi Patkar
Tip
Data from the AppData folder should not be altered. In case of need for alteration, make sure you maintain a backup of these files, which you could use for reversion at any later point.

The AppData folder holds the files, settings, and configuration files, pertaining to the apps/programs installed on a system. It is located in the file explorer. The AppData folder further consists of three subfolders: Roaming, LocalLow, and Local. This sub-containers are also hidden. When you install any app on your computer, its files and related data gets stored in one of these folders. The folder in which the data and files are stored is at the discretion of the app itself.

Let us understand the features of each of these folders. The Roaming folder consists of information or data that is related to the user profile and should roam with it. This data is machine independent. LocalLow consists of immovable or stable data. However, this data can be accessed to minor levels.

Whereas the Local type of folder consists of data that is immovable. It is that portion of application data which is particular to the system. This data is large in size and cannot roam with the user profile. Local type of AppData folder is mostly used by apps to store their data.

How to Access the AppData Folder in Windows 7/Vista
Method I: Accessing the folder using environment variables.

Step #1: Click on 'Start'.
Step #2: Type the environment variable in the search text box.
Step #3: Click on 'OK'.

The two variables are:
'%appdata%' - This variable opens the Roaming folder.
%localappdata% - Typing this variable in the search box of 'Start' lists the two folders: Local and LocalLow.

Note that this method can also be performed by opening the 'Run' dialog box from the Start menu and typing the required variable.

The shortcut to Run Dialog Box: Windows Key + R

Method II: Accessing the folder using Control Panel settings.

Step #1: Open Control Panel ➜ Appearance and Personalization
Step #2: Click on 'Folder options' ➜ 'View' tab
Step #3: Under Advanced settings: Hidden files and folders ➜ Check the 'Show hidden files and folders' option.
Step #4: Click on 'OK'

How to Access the AppData Folder in Windows 8
Method I and II described above for Windows 7/Vista can be used for Windows 8 too.

Method III:  Unhiding the files from the user account.

Step #1: Open 'C' drive ➜ Users
Step #2: Click on required user account to open it.
Step #3: Click on the 'View' tab ➜ Check the 'Hidden items' checkbox in order to view the hidden files.

Avoid making any changes or deleting any files while unhiding the desired files.

Consider an example of a hidden file (Minecraft). This can be accessed by typing '%appdata%\.minecraft\' in the Run dialog box.

How to Access the AppData Folder on Mac
The AppData folder equivalent in Mac is called ~/Library folder.

Method I:

Step #1: In the finder menu, click on Go ➜ Library.
Step #2: Click on Finder Preferences.
Step #3: Under the Devices section, check the Hard disks option.
The ~/Library folder is hidden by default in the Mac finder.

How to Access the AppData Folder in Windows XP
Method I: Making the folder visible using Tools menu.

Step #1: Open Explorer in Windows XP.
Step #2: Click on Tools ➜ Folder Options ➜ View
Step #3: Check the option 'Show hidden files and folders'.
Step #4: Click on 'OK'.

This folder is hidden to insulate the files and data related to the apps installed on your machine. Make sure you don't delete/alter any of these files to avoid these apps from getting corrupt.