How to install Atom on windows to other places instead of C:\?


I’m a new user of Atom but I have difficulty installing the program to other disks instead of the default C:\ - the windows installer simply doesn’t give the chance of manually choosing the installing directory. How can I overcome this? Thanks!

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You can use the Zip version from

Thanks @leedohm! I have tried this but it seems once I use the update function the new version is automatically installed in C:/ again. So how can I update the zip version in another place? Thanks!

Using the zip version means that you have to manually update as well. The autoupdater is tied together with the installer.

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@leedohm I see. Thank you!

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This I find inconceivable to see in a software package released these days.
Just how difficult is it to have an installer/updater package that searches either the registry or the file system for previously installed versions and then use those parameters for its operation.

I use Atom and despite its faults will continue to do so but these little oddities still bemuse me. All software I have installed on my Windows machine does this (use existing installs for parameters) so the concept is entirely possible to implement.

I don’t know about Mac users, do they have any say on where in their system Atom gets installed? If not then perhaps this is why there is no incentive to provide it for Windows users.

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Atom use Squirrel which is quite strongly opinionated in favor of simplicity, uniformity instead of flexibility.

If you scope your request in term of using current directory while updating it may have better chance to work. That particular developer seems to have a strong dislike of UAC.

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It’s probably best if we refrain from speculating about people’s motivations, especially when they are not here to represent themselves.

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After more looking around here’s one way to do it.

  1. Install atom to default location
  2. Copy atom folder to where you want it
  3. Use a symlink to point previous atom location to the new one.

To help you with step 3 I find the following gui useful.

If your storage space is tight from the start you can create symlink before Instaling atom. Point “C:\Users%user%\AppData\Local\atom” to where you want to install. Then install, and no need to copy anything.

This is not very pretty or user friendly, but it should allow you to meet all hard requirement (such as disk space/ quota) while preserving update ability. Squirell will still think atom is in AppData/local.


Thanks a lot @jeancroy !


Thank you for a great work-around. I still hope atom would offer a built-in (seamless) approach for selecting installation directory. Here are 2 practical examples for the need:

  1. the default drive (e.g., C:) is nearly full.
  2. installing an program on SSD to improve performance.

It is great that Atlom/Squirrel is “favor of simplicity”, it would be even better if Atlom/Squirrel provides flexibility for users who need customization as well. Using the 80-20 rule as frame of reference, simplicity for 80% of users, customization for 20% of users. Firefox installation is a great example of this approach, provide simplicity for must user, and allows users to customize installation settings.

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Here’s how you can move Atom or most other Squirrel.Windows applications to any folder you want:

  1. Run %LocalAppData%\Atom\app-VERSION\atom.exe --squirrel-uninstall VERSION (fill in version with the Semver version of Atom)
  2. Move the %LocalAppData%\Atom folder to anywhere you want - make sure to move this root directory, not the app-VERSION directory
  3. Run C:\Wherever\you\put\it\Atom\app-VERSION\atom.exe --squirrel-install VERSION

Bingo Bango, you now have Atom where you want it, and updates will still work. Squirrel.Windows applications are inherently “Portable Applications” by default, and as long as the app itself doesn’t hard-code paths, it’ll Just Work as a portable app.


Thank you so much! It was a great help!

2018 - moved Atom from small solid state c: to the big spinny drive. Works just as advertised!

“hackable”…“customizable” but no official/supported options to specify install directory?

Immediate Uninstall.

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If you read three posts up, you will see an official method for changing the install directory.

Also, “hackable” means that you can do things that aren’t officially supported.

That was great!
Thanks a lot.

Thank you. Now I can keep safe my C-drive. Being portable is the best approach. I hate working with all virtual folders.