Windows 7: Pulling Folders Together with Windows Explorer Libraries

One of the first things you will probably notice when you begin using Windows 7 is that Windows Explorer now opens in a place called Libraries. Over the years, we’ve become accustomed to opening My Computer when we open Windows Explorer, so this is definitely a different way of doing things.

What are Libraries?

Libraries provide a place for you to store a contextual collection of shortcuts to the various (real) folder locations throughout your file system. In other words, store your files wherever you like, then use Libraries to bring them all together into one combined unit, no matter where they might be “under the hood”.






As you can see in the screen capture, Library Folder One is located on the C Drive, and Library Folder Two is located on the E Drive. Here we have two entirely different folder locations brought together into one convenient place!

With the added ability to sort and view an entire set of files from multiple folders within Libraries in a variety of ways (e.g., by Author, by Rating, or by Type), we quickly see that this is indeed a very powerful feature of Windows 7.

Using Libraries

There are four Libraries already made available: Documents, Pictures, Music, and Video. You can work with these and add your own. Let’s just start using them.

To browse to a library:

  1. [Click] in the taskbar.
  2. [Click] in the Navigation Pane.

To change how a library displays its collection of files:

  1. Navigate to the library you wish to change the view for.
  2. Select an option from ARRANGE BY.

To return to the default view, select FOLDER.

To add a folder to an existing library:

[Right Click] the folder in Windows Explorer, select INCLUDE IN LIBRARY, then select an existing library. Or,

  1. [Right Click] the library you would like to add a folder to, then select PROPERTIES.
  2. [Click] INCLUDE A FOLDER, locate the folder you wish to add, then [Click] INCLUDE FOLDER.
  3. [Click] OK.

To remove a folder from an existing library:

  1. [Right Click] the library you would like to remove the folder from, then select PROPERTIES.
  2. Select the folder to remove, then [Click] REMOVE. [Click] OK.

Note: When removing a folder that is also the default save location, the save location will be changed automatically. The new location is determined by the order the folders were added. If no other folders remain in the library, a new folder must be added for a default save location to exist. See Using a Library’s Default Save Location below.

To add a new library:

Navigate to LIBRARES, [Click] NEW LIBRARY, type a name, then press <Enter>.

To add a new library using an existing folder:

[Right Click] the folder, select INCLUDE IN LIBRARY, then select CREATE NEW LIBRARY.

Note: This will create a new library using the selected folder’s name and set that folder as the default save location for that library.

To remove a library:

[Right Click] the library then select DELETE, or, select the library then press <Delete>. [Click] YES.

Note: This only deletes the library and does not delete any folders or files.

You can even set a default save location for each library, making it easier to manage your new files as well.

Using a Library’s Default Save Location

Each library also provides a default save location. This is the folder that gets the new files and sub-folders when they are saved or created at the top level of the library. The first folder added to a library will be used as the default save location.

To modify the default save location for a Library:

To set the default save location, a library must contain at least one folder. To modify:

Navigate to the LIBRARIES, then:

  1. [Right Click] the library, then select PROPERTIES.
  2. Select a location from LIBRARY LOCATIONS. The current save location is indicated by a checkmark.