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How to use Libraries in Windows 10

Remember the old saying "A place for everything and everything in its place"? Same holds true for your files inside of Windows 10. And managing your files in Windows 10 can be a breeze when you use Libraries.

One of my favorite Windows file / folder organization features has to be Libraries. Libraries are really nothing more than a collection of shortcuts to the original file / folder locations. But the locations can be either on your local computer or on a network drive. Once you add a location to a library, it's just one-click away inside of File Explorer.

Now let's not confuse user file folders with Libraries. User file folders are actual folders; Libraries are collections of short-cuts to user file folders. In fact, your user files are already included in the Libraries by default. User file folders have to be located on your computer, but Libraries can be short-cuts to both local and network file folders.

How to enable the Library view in Windows 10

It's kind ironic that one of the coolest features that I can think of inside of Windows 10 is hidden by default. But you can un-hide Libraries in just seconds. Here's how:

  1. Open File Explorer by either
    • Left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar.
    • Left-clicking the Start button and left-clicking on File Explorer.
    • Right-click on the Start button and left-click on File Explorer from the Power User menu.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Left-click on the View tab on the top of the Ribbon.
    How to enable the Library view in Windows 10
  3. Left-click on Navigation pane button and left-click on Show libraries.

How to modify Library properties in Windows 10

We are all familiar with files and folders, but when Windows 7 came out; we got another way to manage them, Libraries. Libraries are where you go to manage your documents, music, pictures, and other files. You can browse your files the same way you would in a folder or you can view your files arranged by properties like date, type, and author.

In some ways, a Library is similar to a folder. For example, when you open a Library, you'll see one or more files. However, unlike a folder, a Library gathers files that are stored in several locations. This is a subtle, but important, difference. Libraries don't actually store your files, just shortcuts to them. Libraries monitor folders that contain your files, and let you access and arrange the files in different ways. For instance, if you have music files in folders on your hard disk and on an external drive you can access all of your music files at once using the Music Library.

Windows 10 has four (4) default libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos) and includes links to your user files by default. Remember that you can add up to fifty (50) folders to a Library. And if you like, you can also create your own Libraries. Here are some other ways you can modify an existing Library.

  • Include or remove a folder. Libraries gather content from included folders, or Library locations.
  • Change the default save location. The default save location determines where an item is stored when it's copied, moved, or saved to the Library.
  • Change the type of file a library is optimized for. Each Library can be optimized for a certain file type (such as music or pictures). Optimizing a Library for a certain file type changes the available options for arranging your files.

How to add a folder to a Library in Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer by either
    • Left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar.
    • Left-clicking the Start button and left-clicking on File Explorer.
    • Right-click on the Start button and left-click on File Explorer from the Power User menu.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Left-click on the Library you'd like to change.
  3. On the Ribbon on top, left-click the Manage library button.
  4. In the Library Locations dialog box, click on Add, navigate to and highlight the folder you want to add to the Library and left-click on Include folder.
  5. Left-click OK.

How to change a Library's default save location in Windows 10

A Library's default save location determines where an item will be stored when it's copied, moved, or saved to the Library.

  1. Open File Explorer by either
    • Left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar.
    • Left-clicking the Start button and left-clicking on File Explorer.
    • Right-click on the Start button and left-click on File Explorer from the Power User menu.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Right-click on the Library you'd like to change and left-click Properties.
  3. Select the Library location that you want as default, left-click on Set save location and then left-click Apply.
  4. Left-click OK.

How to change the type of files a Library is optimized for in Windows 10

Each Library can be optimized for a certain file type (such as music or pictures). Optimizing a Library for a certain file type changes the options that are available for arranging the files in that Library.

  1. Open File Explorer by either
    • Left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar.
    • Left-clicking the Start button and left-clicking on File Explorer.
    • Right-click on the Start button and left-click on File Explorer from the Power User menu.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Right-click on the Library you'd like to change, and then left-click Properties.
  3. In the Optimize this library for list, select a file type, and then left-click Apply.
  4. Left-click OK.

How to create a new Library in Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer by either
    • Left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar.
    • Left-clicking the Start button and left-clicking on File Explorer.
    • Right-click on the Start button and left-click on File Explorer from the Power User menu.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Left-click on Libraries.
  3. Left-click on the Home tab, left-click on New item and then choose Library.
  4. Enter a name for the new Library, and then press Enter.

How to remove a folder from a Library in Windows 10

If you don’t need a folder in a Library anymore, you can remove it. When you remove a folder from a library, the folder and everything in it is still kept in its original location. Remember that when you delete a folder from a Library, the folder and everything in it is deleted in its original location.

  1. Open File Explorer by either
    • Left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar.
    • Left-clicking the Start button and left-clicking on File Explorer.
    • Right-click on the Start button and left-click on File Explorer from the Power User menu.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Left-click on the Library where you want to remove a folder.
  3. On the Ribbon on top, left-click the Manage library button.
  4. In the Library Locations dialog box, left-click on the folder you want to remove, left-click Remove, and then left-click OK.

How to add a network folder that is not indexed to a Library in Windows 10

There will be times when you cannot get a shared network folder added into a Library due to indexing issues. The way I found to get around this problem is by creating a symbolic link.

  1. Open File Explorer by either
    • Left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar.
    • Left-clicking the Start button and left-clicking on File Explorer.
    • Right-click on the Start button and left-click on File Explorer from the Power User menu.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Left-click on This PC and create a folder on your drive for your network folders, for example c:\share.
  3. Create another folder within that folder, for example c:\share\music.
  4. Select the subfolder you just created, left-click the Home tab, left-click Easy access, choose Include in library, and then select the library to which you want to add the folder or create a new Library.
  5. Delete the folder.
  6. Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges (click here for complete instructions)
  7. Enter mklink /d, and then enter the path of the folder you just deleted and the path of the network folder. For example, mklink /d c:\share\music \\server\music. If either of the folder names has spaces, encase the path(s) inside of quotes. For example, mklink /d "c:\shared files\music" "\\server\shared music". This creates what is called a symbolic link.

Here's how to create a symbolic link in Windows 8. It's the exact same procedure for Windows 10.

Modifying the default locations of user files and library properties in Windows 8

Did you know that Windows 8 has some great ways of managing your user files? From adding additional folder locations in the Libraries to completely moving your user documents to another location. You can do all of these and more. Here's how to modify the default locations of user files and library properties in Windows 8.

Moving your personal folders has become more common place when you have two (2) or more disk drives in a computer. By moving the user files to another drive, you're freeing up space on the drive with the operating system. This can be extremely beneficial if your operating system is installed on a Solid State Drive (SSD). When you move a folder to a new location, you change where the folder, as well as the files in the folder, are stored. However, you'll still be able to access the folder the same way you did before you moved it.

Also, instead of moving a folder, you might want to consider including another folder in one of your libraries. For example, if you have a large number of pictures, you can store those pictures in a location other than your primary hard drive and then include that location in your Pictures library. For more information, see below.

How to change the location of user files in Windows 8

There are six (6) user folders in Windows 8 which you can change their locations. They are Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Videos. You will need to create folders with the same name in the new location prior to moving any of these folders.

How to move a user folder to a new location

  1. From the desktop, left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Navigate to This PC and expand it. If you don't see the Navigation pane go to the View tab, pull down the Navigation pane toolbar and place a check mark next to Navigation pane.
  3. Right-click the folder that you want to move, and then click Properties.
  4. Click the Location tab, and then click Move.
  5. Browse to the location where you want to move this folder. You can select another location on this computer, another drive attached to this computer, or another computer on the network. To find a network location, type two backslashes (\\) into the address bar followed by the name of the location where you want to redirect the folder (for example, \\mylaptop), and then press Enter.
  6. Click the folder where you want to store the files, click Select Folder, and then click OK.
  7. In the dialog that appears, click Yes to move all the files to the new location.

To restore a folder to its original location

  1. From the desktop, left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Navigate to This PC and expand it. If you don't see the Navigation pane go to the View tab, pull down the Navigation pane toolbar and place a check mark next to Navigation pane.
  3. Right-click the folder that you previously redirected and want to restore to its original location, and then click Properties.
  4. Click the Location tab, click Restore Default, and then click OK.
  5. Click Yes to recreate the original folder, and then click Yes again to move all the files back to the original folder.

Note:
If you don't see the Location tab in a folder's Properties dialog, then the folder can't be moved. If you see the Location tab but can't edit the folder path, then you don't have permission to move the folder.

How to modify library properties in Windows 8

We are all familiar with files and folders, but when Windows 7 came out; we got another way to manage them, Libraries. Libraries are where you go to manage your documents, music, pictures, and other files. You can browse your files the same way you would in a folder or you can view your files arranged by properties like date, type, and author.

In some ways, a library is similar to a folder. For example, when you open a library, you'll see one or more files. However, unlike a folder, a library gathers files that are stored in several locations. This is a subtle, but important, difference. Libraries don't actually store your items. They monitor folders that contain your items, and let you access and arrange the items in different ways. For instance, if you have music files in folders on your hard disk and on an external drive you can access all of your music files at once using the Music library.

Windows 8 has four default libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. You can also create new libraries. If you don't see the Libraries in File Explorer, go to the View tab, pull down the Navigation pane toolbar and place a check mark next to Show Libraries.

Here are some ways you can modify an existing library:

  • Include or remove a folder. Libraries gather content from included folders, or library locations. You can include up to 50 folders in one library.
  • Change the default save location. The default save location determines where an item is stored when it's copied, moved, or saved to the library.
  • Change the type of file a library is optimized for. Each library can be optimized for a certain file type (such as music or pictures). Optimizing a library for a certain file type changes the available options for arranging your files.

How to add a folder to a library

  1. From the desktop, left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Open the library you'd like to change.
  3. On the ribbon on top select Manage library.
  4. In the Library Locations dialog box, click on Add, navigate to the folder you want to add to the library and click on Include folder.
  5. Click OK.

How to change a library's default save location

A library's default save location determines where an item will be stored when it's copied, moved, or saved to the library.

  1. From the desktop, left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Right-click on the library you'd like to change and click Properties.
  3. Select the library location that you want as default and click on Set save location.
  4. Click OK.

To change the type of files a library is optimized for

Each library can be optimized for a certain file type (such as music or pictures). Optimizing a library for a certain file type changes the options that are available for arranging the files in that library.

  1. From the desktop, left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Right-click on the library you'd like to change, and then click Properties.
  3. In the Optimize this library for list, select a file type, and then click OK.

Working with Libraries in Windows 8

When I'm working on my computer, the one thing I hate having to do is navigating File Explorer to get to a folder. Windows 8 has a really useful feature built-in called Libraries. With Libraries, I can get to my documents, music, pictures, videos and frequently used folders with just a couple of clicks. Here's how to work with Libraries inside of Windows 8.

text
View of Libraries inside of Windows 8 File Explorer

What is a library?

Libraries are collections of where you can get to all your documents, music, pictures, and other files in one single place. In some ways, a library works like a folder: you can use it to browse and sort files. But unlike a folder, a library gathers files that are stored in several locations. This is a subtle, but important, difference. Libraries don't actually store your items. They pull from folders that contain your items, and let you open and arrange the items in different ways. For example, if you have music files in folders on your PC and on an external drive, you can get all of your music files from the Music library.

There are four default libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos), but you can create new libraries for other collections. You can also add and remove folders from libraries. Libraries can include up to 50 folders.

What folder locations are supported in libraries?

You can include folders in a library from many different locations, such as your C drive, an external drive, or a network. Only folders can be included in libraries. Individual files and other items can't be included.

How to create a new library

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charms bar and then tap or left-click Search.
  2. Enter File Explorer in the search box, and then tap or left-click Apps. Tap or left-click File Explorer in the search results
    or
    press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  3. Tap or left-click Libraries.
  4. Tap or left-click the Home tab, tap or left-click New item, and then choose Library.
  5. Enter a name for the library, and then press Enter.

How to add a folder to a library

If the folder you want to add is on an external hard drive, make sure the drive is connected to your PC and that you can open it.

  1. If you're viewing the New Library page in File Explorer, tap or left-click Include a folder, select the folder, and then tap or left-click Include folder.

If you don't have the New Library page open, continue following these steps.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charms bar and then tap or left-click Search.
  2. Enter File Explorer in the search box, and then tap or left-click Apps. Tap or left-click File Explorer in the search results
    or
    press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  3. Expand the location to find the folder you want to add, and then select it. (For example, if you want to add a folder from a network, expand the network location and select the folder.)
  4. Tap or left-click the Home tab, tap or left-click Easy access, choose Include in library, and then select the library to which you want to add the folder.

Notes:

  • If you don't see the Include in library option for a network folder, it means the folder isn't indexed. Follow the steps below to add the folder to a library.
  • Folders on removable media (such as CDs and DVDs), network-attached storage (NAS) devices, and some USB flash drives can't be included in a library.

How to add a network folder that isn't indexed to a library

If your PC is running Windows 8 Pro or Windows 8 Enterprise, the easiest way to do this is to make the folder available offline, and then add the offline folder to a library by following the steps above.

If you don't want to make the folder available offline because you don't want to keep the folder contents on your PC, go to the PC where the network folder is located, and make sure the folder is in an indexed location. If it isn't, add the folder to the list of indexed locations or move the folder to an indexed location.

If neither of these options will work for you, follow these steps to add the folder to a library. Note that doing this will make searching, sorting, and filtering in the whole library slow. For best results, we recommend creating a new library for the network folder alone.

How to add a network folder that is not indexed to a Library in Windows 8

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + C to bring up the Charms bar and then tap or left-click Search.
  2. Enter File Explorer in the search box, and then tap or left-click Apps. Tap or left-click File Explorer in the search results
    or
    press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  3. Tap or left-click Computer and create a folder on your drive for your network folders, for example c:\share.
  4. Create another folder within that folder, for example c:\share\music.
  5. Select the subfolder you just created, tap or left-click the Home tab, tap or left-click Easy access, choose Include in library, and then select the library to which you want to add the folder.
  6. Delete the folder.
  7. Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges (click here for complete instructions)
  8. Enter mklink /d, and then enter the path of the folder you just deleted and the path of the network folder. For example, mklink /d c:\share\music \\server\music. If either of the folder names has spaces, encase the path(s) inside of quotes. For example, mklink /d "c:\shared files\music" "\\server\shared music". This creates what is called a symbolic link.

How to remove a folder from a library

If you don’t need a folder in a library anymore, you can remove it from the library. When you remove a folder from a library, the folder and everything in it is still kept in its original location.

  1. Enter File Explorer in the search box, and then tap or left-click Apps. Tap or left-click File Explorer in the search results
    or
    press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Select the library where you want to remove a folder.
  3. Tap or left-click the Library Tools tab, and then tap or left-click Manage library.
  4. In the dialog box that appears, select the folder you want to remove, tap or left-click Remove, and then tap or left-click OK.

Modifying the default locations of user files and library properties in Windows 7

In this article, I am going to show how to change the default locations of user files and modify the library properties in Windows 7. In a recent article, I showed the default locations for user files in Windows 7. But did you know you can modify them?

You can change the location of the folders in your personal folder (such as My Documents and My Pictures) by redirecting them. For example, if you have a large number of files in your My Documents folder, you might want to store the files on a different hard drive or on a network to free up space on your primary hard drive.

When you redirect a folder to a new location, you change where the folder, as well as the files in the folder, are stored. However, you'll still be able to access the folder the same way you did before you redirected it.

Geek Tip:

  • Instead of redirecting a folder, you might want to consider including a folder in one of your libraries. For example, if you have a large number of pictures, you can store those pictures in a location other than your primary hard drive, then include that location in your Pictures library. For more information, see below.

To redirect a folder to a new location

  1. From the desktop, left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Navigate to C:\Users\your user name\
  3. Right-click the folder that you want to redirect, and then click Properties.
  4. Click the Location tab, and then click Move.
  5. Browse to the location where you want to redirect this folder. You can select another location on this computer, another drive attached to this computer, or another computer on the network. To find a network location, type two backslashes (\\) into the address bar followed by the name of the location where you want to redirect the folder (for example, \\mylaptop), and then press Enter.
  6. Click the folder where you want to store the files, click Select Folder, and then click OK.
  7. In the dialog that appears, click Yes to move all the files to the new location.

To restore a folder to its original location

  1. From the desktop, left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Navigate to C:\Users\your user name\
  3. Right-click the folder that you previously redirected and want to restore to its original location, and then click Properties.
  4. Click the Location tab, click Restore Default, and then click OK.
  5. Click Yes to recreate the original folder, and then click Yes again to move all the files back to the original folder.

Note:

  • If you don't see the Location tab in a folder's Properties dialog, then the folder can't be redirected. If you see the Location tab but can't edit the folder path, then you don't have permission to redirect the folder.

We are all familiar with files and folders, but with the release of Windows 7, we now have another way to manage them, Libraries. Libraries are where you go to manage your documents, music, pictures, and other files. You can browse your files the same way you would in a folder, or you can view your files arranged by properties like date, type, and author.

In some ways, a library is similar to a folder. For example, when you open a library, you'll see one or more files. However, unlike a folder, a library gathers files that are stored in several locations. This is a subtle, but important, difference. Libraries don't actually store your items. They monitor folders that contain your items, and let you access and arrange the items in different ways. For instance, if you have music files in folders on your hard disk and on an external drive you can access all of your music files at once using the Music library.

Windows 7 has four default libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. You can also create new libraries.

Here are some ways you can modify an existing library:

  • Include or remove a folder. Libraries gather content from included folders, or library locations. You can include up to 50 folders in one library.
  • Change the default save location. The default save location determines where an item is stored when it's copied, moved, or saved to the library.
  • Change the type of file a library is optimized for. Each library can be optimized for a certain file type (such as music or pictures). Optimizing a library for a certain file type changes the available options for arranging your files.

To change a library's default save location

A library's default save location determines where an item will be stored when it's copied, moved, or saved to the library.

  1. From the desktop, left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Open the library you'd like to change.
  3. In the library pane (above the file list), next to Includes, click Locations.
  4. In the Library Locations dialog box, right-click a library location that's not currently the default save location, click Set as default save location, and then click OK.

To change the type of file a library is optimized for

Each library can be optimized for a certain file type (such as music or pictures). Optimizing a library for a certain file type changes the options that are available for arranging the files in that library.

  1. From the desktop, left-click on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. Right-click the library you'd like to change, and then click Properties.
  3. In the Optimize this library for list, click a file type, and then click OK.

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