Libraries are new in Windows 7. Here are answers to some common questions about 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 has four default libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. You can also create new libraries. For more information, see Create a new library.
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. For more information, see Include folders in a 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. For more information, see Customize a 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. For more information, see Customize a library.
If you delete a library, the library itself is moved to the Recycle Bin. The files and folders that were accessible in the library are stored elsewhere and therefore aren't deleted. If you accidentally delete one of the four default libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures, or Videos), you can restore it to its original state in the navigation pane by right-clicking Libraries and then clicking Restore default libraries.
If you delete files or folders from within a library, they're also deleted from their original locations. If you want to remove an item from a library but not delete it from the location it's stored in, you should remove the folder containing the item. When you remove a folder from a library, all the items in the folder will be removed (but not deleted). For more information, see Include folders in a library.
Similarly, if you include a folder in a library and then delete the folder from its original location, the folder is no longer accessible in the library.
If a folder from a non-indexed location (such as an external hard drive or a network) was recently included in a library and it contains a large number of files, it might take some time for the library to add those files to the index. During the indexing process, searches and file arrangements might appear incomplete. For more information about indexing, see Improve Windows searches using the index: frequently asked questions.
You can include folders in a library from many different locations, such as your computer's C drive, an external hard drive, or a network.
On your C drive
On an external hard drive
Yes, but the content won't be available if the drive is disconnected.
On an additional hard disk inside your computer
On a USB flash drive
Only if the device appears in the navigation pane, under Computer, in the Hard Disk Drives section. This is set by the device manufacturer, and in some cases, it can be changed. Contact your manufacturer for more information.
The content won't be available if the drive is disconnected.
On removable media (such as a CD or DVD)
On a network
Yes, as long as the network location is indexed, or the folder has been made available offline. (See the question below.)
On a different computer in your homegroup
Yes. For more information, search Windows Help and Support for "Add computers to a homegroup."
Only folders can be included in libraries. Other items on your computer (such as saved searches and search connectors) can't be included.
It means that the folder is stored on a network location that hasn't been indexed. A network folder can only be included in a library if the content of the folder has been added to the search index. If the folder is already indexed on the device where it's stored, you should be able to include it directly in the library.
If the network folder is not indexed, an easy way to index it is to make the folder available offline. This will create offline versions of the files in the folder and add these files to the search index on your computer.
After you make a folder available offline, you can include it in a library.
When you make a network folder available offline, copies of all the files in that folder will be stored on your computer's hard disk. Take this into consideration if the network folder contains a large number of files.
While connected to the network, locate the network folder that you want to make available offline.
Right-click the folder, and then click Always available offline.
If you don't see the Always available offline command in the right-click menu for a network folder, you might be using an edition of Windows 7 that doesn't support offline files.
If the network folder you're trying to include is stored on a computer that's running an older version of Windows, you might be able to make it compatible with Windows 7 libraries by installing Windows Search 4.0 on the computer, and then indexing it. For more information about Windows Search 4.0, see the Windows Search website.
Libraries gather folders that are stored in different locations so you can browse them in one place.
Here are answers to some common questions about libraries in Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1.
They're still there, and they work the way they did before, they're just hidden from the left pane in File Explorer by default. You can still get to them under Favorites by opening Desktop. If you customized your libraries and want to see them in the left pane, tap or click View, tap or click Navigation pane, and then choose Show libraries.
Your libraries include the Documents folder on your PC as well as the Documents folder on SkyDrive.
Some apps let you browse your PC to select folders to add. You can also add folders in File Explorer. To do this:
Browse to the folder you want to add, and then press and hold or right-click it.
Tap or click Include in library, and then select the library to which you want to add the folder.
Right after you add a folder to a library, searches and views of the folder might appear incomplete. This is because Windows is still indexing the folder.
You can include folders in a library from many different locations.
On your C drive, or other internal drives on your PC
On a CD or DVD
On a USB flash drive, SD card, microSD card, or portable external hard drive
Yes, but the files and folders will be available only when the device or drive is connected.
On a network
Yes, as long as the network location is indexed, or the folder has been made available offline. (See the following question.)
On a different PC in your homegroup
On a network-attached storage (NAS) device
Only folders can be included in libraries. Individual files and other items can't be included.
If you upgraded your PC from an earlier version of Windows, each of your libraries will contain a Public folder. The Public folders are a convenient way to share files with everyone who uses your PC or everyone on your network. For example, if you and other family members share a PC, you can put all your family pictures in the Public Pictures folder so that everyone can get to them easily and add, delete, and edit photos.
You can use the Photos app to import photos and videos into your Pictures library. For more info, see How do I import photos and videos from a camera, phone, or DVD?
You can print a document from a library without even opening the document. To do this, browse to the document, press and hold or right-click it, and then tap or click Print. To print multiple documents at once, select each document you want to print, press and hold or right-click one of them, and then select Print. In an open document, you can use the print command that's typically found in a menu at the top of the document—you can also try pressing Ctrl+P.
This message might appear if a library has been damaged. Here's how to solve this problem:
Open This PC by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering This PC in the search box, and then tapping or clicking This PC.
Tap or click View, tap or click Navigation pane, and then select Show libraries if not already selected.
In the left pane, press and hold or right-click Libraries, and then tap or click Restore default libraries.
This message appears if you try to add a network location that isn't indexed. The easiest way to index it so you can include it in a library is to enable offline files on your PC and make the network folder available offline. (In File Explorer, tap or click Home, tap or click Easy access, and choose Always available offline.) When you do this, the files are added to the search index on your PC.
You might get this message if you used an app to add a folder that isn't indexed (like a network folder) to a library. Searching, sorting, and filtering in the library will all be slow. To make these tasks faster, remove the location from the library. If it's important to you to keep the folder in a library, you can create a new library for only that folder so that it won't slow down searching, sorting, and filtering in any other library locations.