You may have noticed ‘Libraries’ nestling in the left-hand pane of Windows Explorer and wondered what exactly they were for. Well, attention please. We’re about to explain more.
In older versions of Windows, organising files on your PC meant creating lots of folders and subfolders. It still does really, but the introduction of ‘Libraries’ in Windows 7 added a simpler means of referencing and accessing your work regardless of where it is stored.
A library gathers documents from different locations – both on your hard drive and external to your computer – and displays them neatly as a single collection. It does not move them from where they are stored but groups them together for easy reference.
There are four default libraries – Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos – but you can create new ones, grouping folders in various locations that contain information you may wish to organise as a new collection.
Things you can do with a library
1. Create a new library.
First you need to locate the libraries on your PC. Click the Start button, then your user name, which will open up your personal folder. Then, in the left pane, click Libraries. Click New Library in the toolbar (or do a right-click and select New-Library). Type a name and press Enter.
Before copying, moving, or saving files to a library, you must create a folder in the library so that the library knows where to store the files. This folder automatically becomes the ‘default save location’ for the library.
2. Arrange items within your library
You can use the Arrange By menu in the library pane to arrange files in a variety of ways – by folder, date and other properties depending on the type of library you are working with.
For example, you can arrange your Music library by Artist to quickly locate all songs by that artist across a range of locations. Your Music library might include various folders you have setup to contain music over the years as well as an external hard drive you back you music up to.
3. Include or remove a folder.
Folders can be added to libraries in two ways. The first is to navigate to the folder you wish to include using Windows Explorer then click the ‘Include in library’ drop down in the toolbar above and make your selection.
You may also browse to the libraries on your PC using the instructions in the ‘Create a new library’ section above and include or remove folders from this area. Double click a library name and look for the locations hyperlink which will open up a list of included folders. Adding or removing new folders from this window is a straight-forward task.
4. Change the 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.
- Open the library you’d like to change.
- In the library pane (above the file list), next to Includes, click Locations.
- 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.