Windows Libraries is a centralized place for bringing together all the related files from a different folder or different PCs. Precisely, Libraries are a collection of shortcuts to the original file or folder locations which can have their 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.
How to use Windows Libraries effectively in Windows 11/10
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 11/10/8/7.
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 11/10.
Open File Explorer and click the Libraries item in the Navigation Pane on the left. This action opens up Libraries instantly. After that, 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 11/10. Although this is possible, it is essential to mention 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 with 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. After that, choose Properties, select the Library location you want as default, and left-click on Set save location and then hit the Apply button.
Read: Add or Remove Libraries from File Explorer Navigation Pane in Windows
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 if there is an event of misfortune, and you have no option other than reinstalling the operating system.
As mentioned earlier, Libraries contain files that are stored in one or more storage locations. They do not 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):
- Library locations
- Order of library locations
- Default save location
There is some more interesting information about Windows Libraries available here on TMicrosoft. You want to also take a look at this Windows Libraries FAQ.
Read next: How to Add or Remove folders in a Library.
How to Enable Windows Libraries?
Open File Explorer, and then click on the three-dot menu on the top middle. Click on Options, and select Options. Switch to the View tab > Navigation Pan and check the Enable libraries. This will instantly add Libraries in Windows File Explorer. At times this feature is turned off in Windows, and you can bring it back.
Where are libraries stored in Windows 11/10?
Windows Libraries are virtual folders, and you cannot keep anything on the root folder. But you can add more folders to it and access them rather quickly. On File Explorer, you can find them on the left panel where This PC, OneDrive, and other folders show up.
What are the default folders in Windows Libraries?
In Windows 11, you can see Camera, Roll, Documents, Music, Pictures, Saved Pictures, and Video. The new folders included in Libraries are the Camera Roll and Saved Pictures. While the former shows photos from OneDrive Camera roll folders, the Saved Pictures is for edited images.