Special Folder Paths

Throughout Windows there are now a large number of 'special' folders such as My Documents, the Start Menu, Program Files etc. Unfortunately, the location of these important folders can vary, so we need to use the SHGetSpecialFolderLocation API to accurately find them. This code shows you how.

'Module Code
Option Explicit
Declare Function SHGetSpecialFolderLocation Lib "Shell32.dll" _
(ByVal hwndOwner As Long, ByVal nFolder As Long, pidl As ITEMIDLIST) As Long
Declare Function SHGetPathFromIDList Lib "Shell32.dll" Alias "SHGetPathFromIDListA" _
(ByVal pidl As Long, ByVal pszPath As String) As Long
Public Type SHITEMID
    cb As Long
    abID As Byte
End Type

Public Type ITEMIDLIST
    mkid As SHITEMID
End Type
Public Const MAX_PATH As Integer = 260

Public Function fGetSpecialFolder(CSIDL As Long) As String
    Dim sPath As String
    Dim IDL As ITEMIDLIST
    '
    ' Retrieve info about system folders such as the "Recent Documents" folder.
    ' Info is stored in the IDL structure.
    '
    fGetSpecialFolder = ""
    If SHGetSpecialFolderLocation(Form1.hwnd, CSIDL, IDL) = 0 Then
        '
        ' Get the path from the ID list, and return the folder.
        '
        sPath = Space$(MAX_PATH)
        If SHGetPathFromIDList(ByVal IDL.mkid.cb, ByVal sPath) Then
            fGetSpecialFolder = Left$(sPath, InStr(sPath, vbNullChar) - 1) & ""
        End If
    End If
End Function

'Form Code
Private Const CSIDL_DESKTOP = &H0 '// The Desktop - virtual folder
Private Const CSIDL_PROGRAMS = 2 '// Program Files
Private Const CSIDL_CONTROLS = 3 '// Control Panel - virtual folder
Private Const CSIDL_PRINTERS = 4 '// Printers - virtual folder
Private Const CSIDL_DOCUMENTS = 5 '// My Documents
Private Const CSIDL_FAVORITES = 6 '// Favourites
Private Const CSIDL_STARTUP = 7 '// Startup Folder
Private Const CSIDL_RECENT = 8 '// Recent Documents
Private Const CSIDL_SENDTO = 9 '// Send To Folder
Private Const CSIDL_BITBUCKET = 10 '// Recycle Bin - virtual folder
Private Const CSIDL_STARTMENU = 11 '// Start Menu
Private Const CSIDL_DESKTOPFOLDER = 16 '// Desktop folder
Private Const CSIDL_DRIVES = 17 '// My Computer - virtual folder
Private Const CSIDL_NETWORK = 18 '// Network Neighbourhood - virtual folder
Private Const CSIDL_NETHOOD = 19 '// NetHood Folder
Private Const CSIDL_FONTS = 20 '// Fonts folder
Private Const CSIDL_SHELLNEW = 21 '// ShellNew folder

Private Sub form_load()
    MsgBox "Desktop Folder " & fGetSpecialFolder(CSIDL_DESKTOPFOLDER)
    MsgBox "Recent Folder " & fGetSpecialFolder(CSIDL_RECENT)
    '// etc...
End Sub

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James Crowley James first started this website when learning Visual Basic back in 1999 whilst studying his GCSEs. The site grew steadily over the years while being run as a hobby - to a regular monthly audience ...

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