Sync User Folders, Wallpapers, Sticky Notes & More Across Computers

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If you are like me, you may be using a different computer while you are at home and on the move. The result of this scenario? Duplicate, unorganized files on all the machines. I have faced several situations where I need a certain file, but it’s saved on the desktop PC. As a permanent fix to this problem, I decided to sync all my regularly usedĀ files and folders to the cloud. My preferred service for this task was Dropbox. The reason was simplicity of usage and the ton of free space I had on the service. Now using Dropbox allows everything I am working on to be available everywhere I work, without even thinking about it.

If you are facing a similar problem, follow this post to fix it.

The following set of directions applies primarily to Dropbox, but the logic behind it can easily be transferred to any other desktop syncing service such as Google Drive, SkyDrive, SugarSync, and others.

Synchronize Desktop, My Documents and Other User Folders

Microsoft has made it pretty easy for users to move their Desktop and Documents folder to wherever they want on their computer.

To move those folders to your Dropbox, just head to your User folder (C:\Users\UserName) in Windows Explorer, right click on a folder, choose Properties, switch to the Location tab, and then enter the Dropbox folder path. Windows will then move all your existing files and folders to the new location. Do the same on your other computer, everything will be in sync from then on.

Sync Desktop

Similarly, if you want, you can also sync your Contacts, Favorites, Bookmarks, Saved Searches, Saved Games, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders. To avoid any unnecessary conflicts, empty the folders before setting up sync on the other computer. Once all files from the primary computer arrives, you can add the other files.

Synchronize Wallpapers

I really like Windows 7’s rotating background feature. I have configured the feature to automatically switch to a new image (stored inside My Pictures) every day. To set up a preferred wallpaper collection as desktop background on all your computers, follow these three steps:

  1. Create a folder for wallpapers inside your Dropbox folder. If your “My Pictures” directory is synced, you can just create the folder inside that for an organized structure.
  2. Add all images you’d like to set as a background inside the newly created folder.
  3. Finally, have Windows use the wallpaper folder as the source of wallpapers.

To do that, right-click on the desktop and click on Personalize. When the Personalization window opens, click on Desktop Background. In the picture location, browse to your wallpaper directory and select it. You should now see all images in that folder added to the Personalization window.

Sync Wallpapers

Then click on “Select all” at the top right of the pane, set a time interval at which you’d like the wallpapers to automatically change, and save your changes.

You don’t have to repeat the steps when you add new images to the wallpaper folder. Windows will automatically recognize new images and add it to the queue.

There you have it! In three steps you’ve a synchronized wallpaper folder for all your Windows 7 PCs with minimal hassle.

Sync Sticky Notes

I regularly use Sticky Notes to quickly jot down things I have to remember or work on later. But as you might be knowing, Sticky Notes doesn’t have sync ability – so no easy way to get those notes on my other computer. Windows doesn’t allow users to relocate Stick Notes location, nor can you can configure it to save at a different location. To circumvent this problem, we will use symbolic links.

Here are the steps to make it work:

Close Sticky Notes
If you keep Sticky Notes open on any computer during the process, the whole procedure will fail. So make sure it is closed before you begin.

Backup Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes saves its data into this folder: C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Sticky Notes. It’s a hidden folder, so if you are navigating through Explorer, enable viewing of hidden files.
Inside the folder you will find a file named StickyNotes.snt. All your notes are saved inside this single file. Save a copy of this file at a safe location so that you can later restore notes in case any error occurs.

Create Symbolic Links with Steam Mover
Steam Mover is a portable application that allows creation of symbolic links in a friendly GUI interface on Windows.

Download, extract ZIP file, and run Steam Mover as an Administrator (right click on EXE and select “Run as administrator”). You will see a two pane interface as below when you start the program.

Steam Mover

On the left pane, where it says “Steam Apps Common Folder”, browse and select the location where Sticky Notes folder is saved: C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft. Do not select Sticky Notes subfolder; just its parent – Microsoft.

Then on the right pane, where it says “Alternative Folder”, browse and select the Dropbox folder where you wish to save your notes. Again, select only the parent of the folder. If you want to save notes in the root of Dropbox, select the main Dropbox directory.

When you have made your selections, click on the right pointing blue icon in the lower-left corner of the window. Steam Mover will then move Sticky Notes to the location you selected and create a symbolic link in the original location.

Follow the same steps on your other computers to set up Sticky Notes sync on them.

After completion of the process, if you find that your notes are missing, just replace the StickyNotes.snt file with the one you had backed up earlier.

One little warning:
Sticky Notes cannot save data simultaneously from two locations. If you keep the program open on two computers at the same time, data is synchronized only for the last closed instance. Though this won’t be much of an issue if you work only on one computer at a time.

There you have it. Your regularly used files are safely backed up online and are in sync across all your Windows running computers.