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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.

Using Remote Desktop Connection on a Netbook

In this article, I would like to show you how to use Remote Desktop Connection. With Remote Desktop Connection, you can have access to a Windows session that is running on your computer when you are at another computer. This means, for example, that you can connect to your work computer from home and have access to all of your programs, files, and network resources as though you were sitting at your computer at work. You can leave programs running at work and when you get home, you can see your work desktop displayed on your home computer, with the same programs running.

When you connect to your computer at work, Remote Desktop automatically locks that computer so that no one else can access your programs and files while you are gone. When you come back to work, you can unlock your computer by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL.

You can keep your programs running and preserve the state of your Windows session while another user is logged on. When that user logs off, you can reconnect to your session in progress.

And you can even connect two computers running different operating systems. In the following video, I use a Netbook running Windows XP Professional to connect to a workstation running Windows 7.

Note: This video was captured at 1366x768 (using a netbook)

With Fast User Switching, you can easily switch from one user to another on the same computer. For example, suppose you are working at home and have logged on to the computer at your office to update an expense report. While you are working, a family member needs to use your home computer to check for an important e-mail message. You can disconnect Remote Desktop, allow the other user to log on and check e-mail, and then reconnect to the computer at your office, where you will see the expense report exactly as you left it. Fast User Switching works on standalone computers and computers that are members of workgroups.

Remote Desktop can be used in many situations, including:

  • Working at home. Access work in progress on your office computer from home, and have full access to all local and remote devices.
  • Collaborating. Access your desktop from a colleague's office to work together on projects such as updating a slide presentation or proofreading a document.
  • Sharing a console. Allow multiple users to maintain separate program and configuration sessions on a single computer, such as at a teller station or a sales desk.

To use Remote Desktop Connection

  • A computer ("host" computer) running Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 or Windows 7 ("remote" computer) with a connection to a local area network (LAN) or the Internet.
  • A second computer ("client" computer) with access to the LAN via a network connection, modem, or virtual private network (VPN) connection. This computer must have Remote Desktop Connection installed.
  • Appropriate user accounts and permissions.

Note:
If you have Windows XP Service Pack 3 installed, the CredSSP protocol is turned off by default. You will need to enable it to use Network Level Authentication (NLA), which is recommended. The following article describes the procedure to enable it.

Credential Security Service Provider (CredSSP) in Windows XP Service Pack 3

Till then,
Scott

Default locations for user files in Windows 7

Here are the default locations for user files in Windows 7.

Temp Directory
C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Temp>

Cookies
C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies>

SendTo
C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo>

Start Menu
C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu>

Templates
C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Templates>

Desktop
C:\Users\username\Desktop>

My Documents
C:\Users\username\Documents>

Downloads
C:\Users\username\Downloads>

Favorites
C:\Users\username\Favorites>

My Music
C:\Users\username\Music>

My Pictures
C:\Users\username\Pictures>

My Videos
C:\Users\username\Videos>

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 (Part 6 - Epilogue)

In the course of writing this series of articles about migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, I have been slowly moving my production time from my old system to the new one (I use a KVM (keyboard, video and mouse switch)). My old system had some issues and needed to be retired. But as fate would have it, my old system's time had started to run out.

In the middle of last week, I found the old system had lost it's ability to recognize usb keyboards and mice. I had to take it off-line and set it up with a PS2 keyboard and mouse. The only item I had left to migrate was my PIM (Personal Information Manager). I use Microsoft Outlook as my PIM and have a Palm TX handheld and an LG Chocolate cell phone that I synchronize to Outlook.

But this did give the opportunity to use Windows Easy Transfer in a different way. I need to get my some of my settings back in-place fast. I had read about pulling the settings from the old system to the new system when they are both on the same network, so I decided to give it a try. I started Windows Easy Transfer on my old computer from the DVD just like I had done before, but this time I choose A Network, and then followed the instructions (basically, starting Windows Easy Transfer on my new computer and entering a key). The Windows Easy Transfer key acts like a password to help protect files and settings when you transfer them over the network. I selected the settings I needed and started the process.

It worked beautifully! It did a great job of bring in my application settings, especially Microsoft Outlook, as the custom toolbars came right back. But it did not bring it my e-mail addresses or data files. But I did expect at least that, so I had to put the databases in the right locations and setup my e-mail accounts manually.

Also, with moving to the 64-bit platform, I knew I would run into driver issues and sure enough it did. This problem did not effect me but might be an issue to others who own a Palm handheld or smartphone and use HotSync. I have been using a bluetooth connection to sync my Palm TX for years, but when I installed the Palm Desktop and HotSync to get the Microsoft Outlook conduits, it wanted a driver for the cable connection. Come to find out that there is no 64-bit usb driver for Palm handhelds and smartphones. Palm recommends using a bluetooth connection to sync when running 64-bit versions of Windows (click here for article).

Till then,
Scott

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 (Part 5 - Applications and Settings)

With our installation of Windows 7 complete, it's time to move on to the applications and settings. We will use the Belarc Advisor report we printed earlier to ensure we do not forget any application as we reinstall them.

With the UAC (User Access Control) in Windows 7, it may necessary to run some of the application installations as administrator. If when you insert the installation media into a removable drive (CD or DVD) and it does not automatically start, I would do the following:

  1. Open Windows Explorer by right-clicking the Start menu, and then clicking Explore.
  2. Browse to the cd/dvd drive on your computer and right click setup.exe (as an example), in the root directory.
  3. Select Run as Administrator.

Also, you may have an older application that just doesn't run quite right after you install it on Windows 7. In that case, you may want to try running it in Compatibility Mode. The following video shows you how.

Now the applications are installed, we will need to start each one and allow them to create any special folders and/or files prior to restoring our settings. Now we are ready to go back to the Microsoft instructions:

Copy files to the destination computer

  1. If you saved your files and settings in an Easy Transfer file on a removable media such as a UFD rather than on a network share, insert the removable media into the computer.
  2. Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click System Tools, and then click Windows Easy Transfer. The Windows Easy Transfer window opens.
  3. Click Next.
  4. Click An external hard disk or USB flash drive.
  5. Click This is my new computer.
  6. Click Yes, open the file.
  7. Browse to the location where the Easy Transfer file was saved. Click the file name, and then click Open.
  8. Click Transfer to transfer all files and settings. You can also determine which files should be migrated by selecting only the user profiles you want to transfer, or by clicking Customize.
  9. Click Close after Windows Easy Transfer has completed moving your files.

Now that we have restored our files and settings using Windows Easy Transfer, we will need to verify they are all there. There will be items (fonts, scripts, etc.) that you will have to access the drive image to restore. Any custom item, like backgrounds in the Windows/Web/Wallpaper directory in Windows XP, will also need to be restored.

Within the first few weeks of migrating to Windows 7, you will find yourself going back to the drive image to restore items. A missing font here, a file there. But within a month, you should be have everything worked out. Within three months, you should be completely migrated to Windows 7 and be able to delete the drive image.

Till then,
Scott

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