Windows 7 - more on Libraries

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More tips and notes on the Windows 7 and 8 library feature

What’s in a Library

It’s easy to see what folders are part of a library. In Explorer there’s a link showing the number of locations, click on that to see a list.

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The default save location (set in Properties) is also shown. You can also add and remove libraries from this window.

You can add most folders visible to Windows into a library including:



  • Other fixed drives on your computer
  • Network shares that are either indexed or made available offline on your computer.
  • Some Portable drives via USB etc. If the drive appears under ‘Hard Disk Drives’ in Explorer’s Computer view you can add it to a Library. If it appears under ‘Devices with Removable Storage’ it cannot be added to a library.

Some of the things that can’t be added to a library are: portable/removable storage, FTP or HTTP locations, CD/DVD/BluRay disks, individual files and saved searches.


Library updating

If a new file arrives from the cloud there’s a short delay (seconds or occasionally minutes) before it shows up in a library view.

When a new folder is added to the library or files change in an existing folder, Windows has to update its index to be able to find it. This should happen quickly and in the background but if there are a lot of files added quickly (or Windows isn’t behaving) then it might take a little time for the new files to show up in the library.


Library indexing

Files copied from cloud storage are indexed by Windows for quick searches, but only the file types that Windows can recognize.

This isn’t usually a problem but Google Drive is a notable exception. As we’ve already noted Google Drive doesn’t properly sync Google Docs to your computer and even if it did, the .gdoc .gsheet and .gslides formats don’t have indexing plug-ins for Windows.


Other library properties

Let’s look again at the Libraries properties dialog and cover the other options.

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Set Save Location

If you save a file to the Library (as opposed to a specific folder in the library) Windows needs to know where to save the file. That’s because the Library isn’t a real folder in the usual way. This option tells Windows what physical folder to save files to if it’s not sure.

In the Windows 8 previews there’s an extra button here, ‘Set public save location’ for folders that have sharing with write permission from other computers.


Optimize this library for:

As with any Windows folder, this configures the default display of the files in Explorer. It’s doesn’t change the files or behavior in any way.


Shown in navigation pane

You can ‘hide’ a library from the left-hand Explorer pane without removing it completely.

For example you can ‘hide’ some of the default Windows Libraries that you don’t need – for example Videos.


Shared

You can share a Library among users in a Windows 7 Homegroup using the ‘Share with’ button in Explorer.

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