The Windows Club

How to use Windows Libraries effectively in Windows 10

Windows Libraries is a centralized place for bringing together all the related files from the different folder or different PCs. Precisely, Libraries is a collection of shortcuts to the original file or folder locations which can have its locations either on a local computer or on a network drive. This, to an extent also marks the difference between Libraries and User Folders, as User folders are actual folders while Libraries are collections of shortcuts to User folders.

Windows 10 Libraries

The default Windows Libraries are Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. Since Libraries have many benefits like quick access and so on, it is necessary to know and understand how to use Libraries effectively in Windows 10/8/7.

Once you add a location to the Library, it’s just one-click away inside of File Explorer. This way you can easily manage your work or daily tasks. The following information might help you to some extent in this regard.

Re-order Library Contents

Including a folder in a library does not physically move or change the storage location of the files or folders; the library is a view into those folders. However, users interacting with files in a library can re-order folders inside a library in Windows 10.

Open File Explorer and click the Libraries item in the Navigation Pane on the left. This action opens up Libraries instantly. Thereafter, select a library, right click it and choose “Properties” from the context menu.

Now, you will see the folders listed in the order in which they are included in the current library. If required, you can simply re-order them by drag and drop! Drag the folders up or down to set the desired order and you are done.

Hiding Default Libraries

Users can hide or delete the default libraries in Windows 10. Although this is possible, it is important to mention here that the libraries node in the Navigation pane cannot be hidden or deleted. Hiding a default library is preferable to deleting it. So, only some default libraries that are not suitable for the business environment, such as Music or Videos libraries, should be hidden.

To hide a default library, run a script on the network to modify the Library Description file, and you need to access a Group Policy setting to hide the link to this library on the Start menu. The script should set the hidden attribute of the Library Description file (*.library-ms). This conceals the library from users in the Windows Explorer navigation pane and Items View. The following example script hides the Pictures library:

@echo off

%systemdrive%

cd\

cd %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries

attrib +h Pictures.library-ms

You should configure a Group Policy setting for every library that has a link you want to hide in the Start menu. You can find these Group Policy settings under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar.

Change default Save Locations for Libraries

Every library has a default Save location. Files are automatically saved or copied to this location when a user chooses to save or copy a file to a library. So, known folders are the default save locations. If required, users can select a different save location. Also, when the user removes the default save location from a library, the next location is automatically selected as the new default save location. So, if the library is empty of locations, the save operation fails.

To change the default save location for libraries, open File Explorer by either left-clicking on the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or hitting the Start button and then choosing File Explorer.

Next, right-click on the Start button and left-click on File Explorer from the Power User menu.

Then, press the Windows logo key WinKey+E and right-click on the Library you’d like to change. Thereafter, choose Properties, select the Library location that you want as default and left-click on Set save location and then hit Apply button.

Folder Redirection

Folder redirection enables users and administrators to redirect the path of a known folder to a new location, manually or by using Group Policy. The new location can be a folder on the local computer or a directory on a file share. When you redirect a folder, the files in the folder are made available to the user from any computer on the network.

The advantages of using this method are that even if users log on to different computers on the network, their data is always available and if you are using the offline technology then, it gives users access to the folder even when they are not connected to the network. This is especially useful for people who use portable computers. Moreover, the data that is stored in a network folder can be backed up as part of routine system administration. This is safer because it requires no action by the user. And lastly, data that is specific to a user can be redirected to a different hard disk on the user’s local computer from the hard disk that holds the operating system files. All this makes the user’s data quite safe in case there is any event of misfortune and you have no option other than reinstalling the operating system.

Library Attributes

As mentioned earlier, Libraries contain files that are stored in one or more storage locations. They do not actually store these files but only monitor the folders that contain the files, and let users access and arrange the files in different ways.

If required, the following library attributes can be modified within Windows Explorer, the Library Management dialog, or the Library Description file (*.library-ms):

  1. Name
  2. Library locations
  3. Order of library locations
  4. Default save location

There is some more interesting information about Windows Libraries available here on Technet.  You want to also take a look at this Windows Libraries FAQ.