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SHGetKnownFolderPath function

Retrieves the full path of a known folder identified by the folder's KNOWNFOLDERID.


HRESULT SHGetKnownFolderPath(
  _In_     DWORD            dwFlags,
  _In_opt_ HANDLE           hToken,
  _Out_    PWSTR            *ppszPath


rfid [in]


A reference to the KNOWNFOLDERID that identifies the folder.

dwFlags [in]


Flags that specify special retrieval options. This value can be 0; otherwise, one or more of the KNOWN_FOLDER_FLAG values.

hToken [in, optional]


An access token that represents a particular user. If this parameter is NULL, which is the most common usage, the function requests the known folder for the current user.

Request a specific user's folder by passing the hToken of that user. This is typically done in the context of a service that has sufficient privileges to retrieve the token of a given user. That token must be opened with TOKEN_QUERY and TOKEN_IMPERSONATE rights. In some cases, you also need to include TOKEN_DUPLICATE. In addition to passing the user's hToken, the registry hive of that specific user must be mounted. See Access Control for further discussion of access control issues.

Assigning the hToken parameter a value of -1 indicates the Default User. This allows clients of SHGetKnownFolderPath to find folder locations (such as the Desktop folder) for the Default User. The Default User user profile is duplicated when any new user account is created, and includes special folders such as Documents and Desktop. Any items added to the Default User folder also appear in any new user account. Note that access to the Default User folders requires administrator privileges.

ppszPath [out]

Type: PWSTR*

When this method returns, contains the address of a pointer to a null-terminated Unicode string that specifies the path of the known folder. The calling process is responsible for freeing this resource once it is no longer needed by calling CoTaskMemFree. The returned path does not include a trailing backslash. For example, "C:\Users" is returned rather than "C:\Users\".

Return value


Returns S_OK if successful, or an error value otherwise, including the following:

Return codeDescription

Among other things, this value can indicate that the rfid parameter references a KNOWNFOLDERID which does not have a path (such as a folder marked as KF_CATEGORY_VIRTUAL).


Among other things, this value can indicate that the rfid parameter references a KNOWNFOLDERID that is not present on the system. Not all KNOWNFOLDERID values are present on all systems. Use IKnownFolderManager::GetFolderIds to retrieve the set of KNOWNFOLDERID values for the current system.



This function replaces SHGetFolderPath. That older function is now simply a wrapper for SHGetKnownFolderPath.


Minimum supported client

Windows Vista [desktop apps only]

Minimum supported server

Windows Server 2008 [desktop apps only]


Shlobj_core.h (include Shlobj.h)


Shell32.dll (version 6.0.6000 or later)

See also

Known Folders Sample