With the advent of Windows 7, we got introduced to new feature called Libraries which in easy English can be termed as an improved version of Windows Explorer.
What is a Windows Library?
Library in Windows 7 is a set of folders within your computer to categorize things in a better way, with more control to group or save the files anywhere on the PC. We have been using the similar feature in earlier versions of Windows (and in Windows 7 too) which are My Pictures, My Documents etc. But back then, you could save your files to that particular location specified for those libraries. With the new Library feature in Windows 7, you have total control on adding folders from all over the PC to any such Library, save files to any of them and even create new Libraries depending on your needs.
INFO: Head over to Microsoft to learn more about the Library feature.
Creating and Customizing a New Library
Creating a New Library
Open the explorer window and right-click on Libraries. Go to New>Library. Name the library whatever you like.
Customizing the Icon
Open a new notepad window and in Windows Explorer go to:
Now drag the newly created library (“Worldstart” in my case) onto the new Notepad window. A bunch of text will appear on the notepad. Leave it open.
Open the location where the downloaded file can be found. Hold down Shift key and right click on the icon (you wish to set as your library icon). Click on the option “Copy as path” to copy the file path.
Now move back to the notepad window and add the line <iconReference>PASTE PATH HERE< iconReference> below the string that says <isLibraryPinned>true</isLibraryPinned>.
Save the notepad document and close the window. You will now see the Library with the changed icon.
INFO: To delete a library go to Libraries from Windows explorer, right click on the library you wish to delete and select “Delete”
Adding a Folder to the Library:
1. Open Explorer and click on the newly created library. Press the button “Include a folder” to add a folder to the Library. This button is only shown if the library does not include a folder.
2. You can right click on the Library and go to Properties. Here you can use the “Include a folder…” button to add a folder to the library.
INFO: Uncheck the “Shown in Navigation pane” option (under Attributes) to hide the Library from the navigation pane.
3. You can also right click on any folder, then go to Include in Library and select the library you wish to add the folder to.
Change Default Save Location for A Library
The default save location refers to a folder where the files are saved if you save a specific document to the library. Open the libraries from Windows explorer and right click on the library concerned. Choose Properties.
In the Properties dialog, choose a folder (previously included in the Library) and press the button “Set save location”. Press OK.
Changing the Folder Display Order within Libraries:
Open any library and the folders included in the library will be shown in order they are added. Now to reorder the list click the “Includes” option as shown in the screenshot.
Once the library locations window opens, select any folder and right click on it. Choose “Move up” or “Move down” as needed.
Once the order is changed, press OK to save the changes.
Open My Computer Instead of Opening Libraries:
The explorer icon in the taskbar (which is there by default) opens the library view in Windows 7. However as (most) older Windows users are more comfortable with opening My Computer. Here is a short hack to achieve this.
Right click on the default windows explorer icon and choose “Unpin this from taskbar”.
Now right click on the desktop and select New > Shortcut.
Type %windir%\explorer.exe /e in the space as shown in the screenshot below. Press “Next”.
Name the shortcut anything you want and press Finish. It will be named explorer by default.
Right click on the newly created shortcut and choose “Pin to Taskbar”
Now you can delete the shortcut from desktop and clicking the newly pinned explorer icon will open My Computer instead of libraries.
Enabling or Disabling Libraries in Windows 7
If you are finding it very tough to get used to the Library feature in Windows 7 you can disable the Library feature by editing registry. Just download the zip file from AskVG.com and unzip it on your PC.
There are three registry files (.reg) within the extracted folder. Here are the names of them and their uses:
1. Disable Libraries in Windows 7: Completely disable the Library feature in Windows 7.
2. Only Remove Libraries Icon from Windows 7 Explorer: This removes the libraries from the explorer window. However the feature is not disabled and is still accessible from C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries.
3. Restore Default Settings: Running this script will enable the Libraries in Windows as well as the explorer window. Which means it will help you to restore the default settings.
To run the scripts (mentioned above) just double click on them. Once the script is executed successfully, log off and then log back in to view the changes.
A Simple Freeware to Handle (Almost) All of the Above Tasks
However, if you do not feel very comfortable performing these tasks, you still have a choice to tweak things with a freeware named Librarian. Download it from here.
That is all for now and if you are enjoying the Windows Libraries by now, I’ll consider my efforts has paid off.