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How to use Libraries in Windows 10

Remember the old saying "A place for everything and everything in its place"? The same holds for your files inside of Windows 10. And managing your data 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 nothing more than a collection of shortcuts to the original file/folder locations. But the places 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 shortcuts to user file folders. 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 somewhat 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 data 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 data that is stored in several locations. This is a subtle but significant difference. Libraries don't store your files, just shortcuts to them. Libraries monitor folders containing your data, and lets you access and arrange the files in different ways. For instance, if you have music files in folders on your hard disk and 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 specific file type (such as music or pictures). Optimizing a Library for a particular 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. Left-click the Library Tools  - Manage tab on the top of the Ribbon.
  4. On the Ribbon on top, left-click the Manage library button.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 specific file type (such as music or pictures). Optimizing a Library for a particular kind of file changes the available options for arranging the data 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. Left-click the Library Tools  - Manage tab on the top of the Ribbon.
  4. On the Ribbon on top, left-click the Manage library button.
  5. 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 same procedure for Windows 10.

How to change the default location of user files in Windows 10

User files (documents, music, photos, etc.) can take up a lot of space on your computer. But if you have a second drive inside your computer, you can quickly move your user folders to it. Here's how to change the default location of user files in Windows 10.

Nowadays, a few computers are coming with two drives, a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (HDD). Since SSD's are generally smaller in size and faster than HDD's, they usually are used just for the operating system and program files. User files should always be moved to the HDD to conserve space on the SSD.

Now there are seven (7) user file folders that you can be relocate: 3D Objects, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos. Before you change the location of the user file/folders, you will need to create new folders for your files.
Recently created new user folders inside of Windows 10
I usually create a folder called User Files in the root of the D: drive and then create the individual folders for each user; for example, D:\User Files\username\Desktop, D:\User Files\username\Documents, etc.

How to change the default location of user files in Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer by either left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar, left-clicking on the Start button and selecting File Explorer, right-clicking on the Start button and selecting File Explorer from the Power Users menu or by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. In the left-hand column, expand This PC so that the following folders are displayed: 3D Objects, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos.
    The context menu for user folders inside of Windows 10
  3. Right-click on the folder you want to move and from the context menu that appears, left-click on Properties.
  4. On the dialog box that appears, left-click on the Location tab.
    The properties dialog box for a user folder inside of Windows 10
  5. Left-click on the Move button.
    Select the new location of a user folder inside of Windows 10
  6. Navigate to the new location for the folder. Once you have selected the folder you want to use, left-click on the Select Folder button.
  7. Left-click on the Apply button in the lower right-hand corner.
  8. In the confirmation dialog box that appears, left-click on Yes.
  9. Left-click on the OK button in the lower left-hand corner.

How to restore the default location of user files in Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer by either left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar, left-clicking on the Start button and selecting File Explorer, right-clicking on the Start button and selecting File Explorer from the Power Users menu or by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.
  2. In the left-hand column, expand This PC so that the following folders are displayed: 3D Objects, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos.
  3. Right-click on the folder you want to move and from the context menu that appears, left-click on Properties.
  4. On the dialog box that appears, left-click on the Location tab.
  5. Left-click on the Restore Default button.
  6. Left-click on the Apply button in the lower right-hand corner.
  7. In the Create Folder dialog box that appears, left-click on Yes.
  8. In the confirmation dialog box that appears, left-click on Yes.
  9. Left-click on the OK button in the lower left-hand corner.

My personal upgrade to Windows 10

Upgrading your computer to Windows 10 can be a pretty simple task. But there are occasions when upgrading can be a massive headache. And then there is my Windows 10 upgrade. Here's my personal experience upgrading to Windows 10.

My personal upgrade to Windows 10

Let me start by saying that I knew right from the start that upgrading my personal computer to Windows 10 would be a lot of work. But it was something that needed to happen. When I built this system in January of 2013, it was because the original motherboard failed. So I picked up a new motherboard, processor, and memory and reloaded all of the software.

Little did I know that my biggest problem for my Windows 10 upgrade started when I installed all of the software in 2013. I installed Windows 8 instead of Windows 7 that I had previously. All worked well until Windows 8.1 was released. It turned out that one of my major programs, QuickBooks Pro 2010, didn't support Windows 8.1. If I upgraded to Windows 8.1, I would have to upgrade to QuickBooks Pro 2013. It seemed like a waste of time and money, so I decided to wait.

Now let's fast forward three years or so to February of 2016 when Microsoft ends support for Windows 8 (not Windows 8.1). I decided it was time to move to Windows 10. I picked up a new 1TB hard drive and installed it alongside my 1TB Windows 8 drive. I was going to switch boot drive in the motherboard BIOS (Basic Input Output System) temporarily until I got the Windows 10 drive set up. That's when I remembered that my version of QuickBooks Pro 2010 would not install on Windows 10.

So just for the fun of it, I tried to install QuickBooks Pro 2010 inside a Windows 10 Virtual Machine (VM) running on the Windows 8 drive. The installer just wouldn't run. I tried everything, including compatibility mode, nothing worked. So I decided that I could run QuickBooks Pro 2010 inside of a Windows 7 VM. I got the Windows 7 VM all set up and running. Things got busy at work, and I had put my upgrade to Windows 10 on hold. So I disconnected the drive with Windows 10 and kept using Windows 8.

My Windows 10 upgrade got back on track last month when Intuit made me an offer to upgrade my version of QuickBooks. It seems there is a security issue with older QuickBook versions, and Intuit offered me the latest version for 70% off. That was just the thing to get my Windows 10 upgrade going again. I would have lost the integration with Microsoft Word (printing envelops) and Outlook (contacts, e-mail) running QuickBooks inside of a VM. That was something I didn't want to lose.

My original plan was back on. I already had a clean installation of Windows 10 and need to finish installing all of the programs. Yes, it is a lot of work, but a Windows 8 to Windows 10 upgrade isn't possible. And besides the new version of QuickBooks, I had several other software upgrades that I'd been waiting to do. It seemed like the perfect time to do them all.

My idea was to recreate the three (3) partitions and drive letters (C:, D: and E:) from the original 1TB drive using both of the 1TB drives. The C: and D: drive partitions would be on the first (boot) drive, and the E: drive partition would take up the whole second drive. Setting up the disks this way would double my storage space.

Now when I originally started this upgrade in February, I disconnected the old 1TB and performed a clean install of Windows 10 on the new 1TB drive. Once I had Windows 10 installed and drivers updated, I shut down my computer and reattached the old 1TB drive. During this time, I also changed the port that the drives connected to on the motherboard (I wanted the boot drive on the 0 port).

Now I've done this type of upgrade many times before. The only problem I was having was the motherboard BIOS was having issues with the boot records on the two drives. It didn't help that the disks were from the same manufacturer (Western Digital) and the same size (1TB). The new one was a 'Black' drive, and the old one was a 'Blue' drive. They have the same specs, but the 'Black' drive has a five (5) year warranty, where the 'Blue' drive has only a two (2) year warranty.

It was time to make the changeover. I booted up to Windows 8 one last time and did a software inventory using Belarc Advisor. When it was complete, I printed out a copy for my use. Belarc Advisor gives a full list of all the software installed on your computer. Since I was doing a clean install of Windows 10, I would defiantly use the audit for reinstalling the software.

Then I went into the BIOS and changed the boot order so that Windows 10 drive booted automatically. Once Windows 10 was back up and running, I needed to get my files off of the old drive. I had already created the new C: and D: drives/partitions on the new drive, so I just copied over the contents of the old D: drive (which was now H:) to the new D: drive. The contents of the third partition (E:) on the old drive would have to go onto an external drive temporarily.

A screen shot of the Disk2vhd user interface
A screenshot of the Disk2vhd user interface

At this point, I have two of the original three partitions/drives recreated (C: and D:). It was time to take care of the original C: drive. To be on the safe side, I decided to create an image of it. I downloaded the latest version of Disk2vhd from Microsoft (it's part of the Sysinternals Suite) and proceeded to create an image of the C: drive. When it was complete, I copied the image over to an external drive along with a copy of the AppData folder from my old profile.

It was now time to delete all of the original partitions on the old 1TB drive and reformat it into just one partition/drive (E:). Reformatting the drive erased all of the partitions and the original Master Boot Record (MBR). That solved the problem with the motherboard not knowing what MBR to use at startup. Now that the E: drive was back in place, I copied all of the files I had put on the external drive.

Attaching a VHD file inside of Disk Management
Attaching a VHD file inside of Disk Management

Everything from here on out was downhill. The only issue I had was a disk collision warning when I first attached the VHD in Windows 10. Windows 10 wrote a new disk signature to the VHD file, and all was good. Now all I had to do was reinstall all of my software.

The Windows 10 feature you hope you never have to use

Nobody likes to have to reinstall Windows. Nobody. It has been a significant headache with finding or creating the recovery/installation media and finding or reading the product key from the Certificate of Authenticity (COA). But with the Windows 10 online upgrade, things just got a whole lot easier.

 Windows 10 feature you hope you never have to use

There may come a day when you may need to repair or reinstall Windows 10. In previous versions of Windows, you had to create the manufacturer's branded recovery disks or use the hidden recovery partition to reinstall Windows. Or maybe you were one of the lucky ones that got an OEM disk. Either way, you had to have the original operating system installation media from the manufacturer to perform a reinstallation.

The huge problem was a lot of people didn't know they needed to make the recovery disks. They only found out after their hard drives crashed. At that point, they have only two choices; contact the manufacturer to find out if they sell the recovery disks. Some do, some don't. But the cost for replacement recovery disks will be less than the second option, which is to purchase a new installation disk.

If you're one of the millions that have upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 online, you now have a digital license. You can use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft to create either a bootable USB drive or an ISO file. You can then use the ISO file to create an installation DVD. And the cool thing is that you can make the installation media on another Windows 10 computer, just in case your computer will not boot.

All you need for hardware is a USB drive (8GB or larger) or DVD burner and a blank single-side or double-side DVD. What you need to know about your version of Windows 10 is what language, what edition (Home, Pro, etc.), and what architecture (32-bit or 64-bit). Most consumers use the Home edition as the Pro edition does cost more. Unless you specifically order your computer with the Pro edition or your computer is part of a domain, it's probably the Home edition. And most computers nowadays run 64-bit versions of Windows.

The next thing is the product key. In previous Windows versions, when you installed the operating system, the product key was stored on the hard drive. With Windows 10, when installing the operating system, the product key is stored on the cloud. So, if you are doing a clean/repair installation and Windows 10 has already been activated on that specific computer, you will not need to enter a product key when prompted. You can click on the I don't have a product key link, and Windows 10 will automatically activate when it gets online. It's one of the coolest features of Windows 10 you hope you never have to use.

For more information on the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft, follow the link below.

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

How to manage Windows 10 Virtual Memory

Optimizing Virtual Memory in Windows has always been an easy way to fine-tune the performance of a computer. When I started working with Windows computers in the 90s, the measurement of memory was Megabytes (MB), now it's Gigabytes (GB). The calculation contained in this article is for Windows computers that have 8 GB or less of memory. If your system has 16 GB or more of memory, you can give this Virtual Memory calculation a try, but you might find that letting Windows automatically manage the paging file will work just as well. Give it a try and let us know how you make out in the comments below.

Your computer has two types of memory, Random Access Memory (RAM) and Virtual Memory. All programs use RAM, but when there isn't enough RAM for the application you're trying to run, Windows temporarily moves information that would usually be stored in RAM to a file on your hard disk called a Paging File. The data temporarily stored in the paging file is also referred to as virtual memory. Using virtual memory, in other words, moving information to and from the paging file, frees up enough RAM for running programs correctly.

The more RAM your computer has, the faster your programs will generally run. If a lack of RAM is slowing your computer, you might be tempted to increase virtual memory to compensate. However, your computer can read data from RAM much more quickly than from a hard disk, so adding RAM is a better solution.

If you receive error messages that warn of low virtual memory, you need to either add more RAM or increase the size of your paging file so that you can run the program on your computer. Windows usually manages this automatically, but you can manually change the size of virtual memory if the default size isn't large enough for your needs.

If you have more than one drive in your computer, you can have more than one pagefile. If you have a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a Hard Disk Drive (HDD), I recommend placing the paging file on the HDD, as Windows is continuously reading and writing to the virtual memory. This wear and tear can shorten the life span of an SSD.

How to calculate Windows 10 Virtual Memory / Paging File

There is a formula for calculating the correct pagefile size. The Initial size is one and a half (1.5) x the amount of total system memory. The Maximum size is three (3) x the initial size. So let's say you have 4 GB (1 GB = 1,024 MB x 4 = 4,096 MB) of memory. The initial size would be 1.5 x 4,096 = 6,144 MB and the maximum size would be 3 x 6,144 = 18,432 MB.

How to change Windows 10 Virtual Memory / Paging File

All the information and links you will need are going to be on the System page.

  1. Bring up the System page by either:
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Pause
    • or
    • Open File Explorer by left-clicking the manilla folder icon on the Taskbar or pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E at the same time. When File Explorer is open, right-click on This PC and select Properties on the context menu that appears.
  2. Make a note of the installed memory (RAM)
    System page inside of Windows 10
  3. Click on the Advanced system settings link
  4. Click on the Advanced tab of the System Properties dialog box
    System Properties dialog box inside of Windows 10
  5. Click on the Settings ... button in the Performance section
  6. Click on the Advanced tab of the Performance Options dialog box
    Performance Options dialog box inside of Windows 10
  7. Click on the Change ... button inside of the Virtual memory section
  8. Deselect the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives checkbox
    Virtual Memory dialog box inside of Windows 10
  9. Select Custom size and enter the initial size and maximum size using the calculation shown above
  10. Click on the Set button

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