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Just What Are Windows 7’s “Libraries” and How Do They Work?

Ever since Windows 7 came out, I’ve received a slow but steady stream of questions regarding the new “Libraries” item that shows up in Windows Explorer.

And I’ve avoided dealing with it.

Why? Because in my opinion, the Libraries feature does little more than add confusion to an already confusing situation.

I avoid them like the plague.

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It’s time to dive into Libraries and begin to understand exactly what they are and are not. From there, you can decide whether they’re an incredibly useful feature or nothing more then a confusing distraction.

For example – and I’ll probably say this repeatedly – Libraries are not folders.

Told you it’d be confusing.

What Libraries are


A Library – say the “Music” Library that shows up in default installations – is nothing more than a collected view of one or more folders.

It’s actually a very simple concept, but even that description sounds confusing.

Right-click the Music Library and click Properties. You’ll get a dialog much like this:

Properties of the Music Library

Note that it lists two folders as “Library locations.”

  • My Music (C:\Users\LeoN)
  • Public Music (C:\Users\Public)

Where “LeoN” would be replaced by your login name on your machine.


Libraries are not folders

Using Music as the example, here’s the magic behind Libraries:

The Music Library is simply showing you the contents of the folders “C:Users\LeoN\My Music” and “C:Users\Public\Public Music”, combined.

Read that again, because it’s important. It’s very simple, but completely not obvious.

A Library is not a folder. A Library is simply another way of looking at the contents of multiple folders in a single place.

That’s all.

Confusion #1: Multiple copies of files

Continuing with example of the Music Library, let’s create a couple of files:

  • C:\Users\LeoN\My Music\PrivateAudio.mp3
  • C:\Users\Public\Public Music\PublicAudio.mp3

That’s one music file in my private folder and another in the public folder. It’s important to note that these two files are in two different folders.

When we look in the Music Library, we see both files:

Contents of Music Librar

So far, so good. The Library’s showing us the combined contents of the two folders in a single place.

Now, it gets confusing.

Let’s create two different files in those two different locations that happen to have the exact same name:

  • C:\Users\LeoN\My Music\Hit_Music.mp3
  • C:\Users\Public\Public Music\Hit_Music.mp3

Those are two different files, in two different folders that simply happen to have the same name.

Here’s what we see in the Music Library:

Contents of Music Library with Dupicates

It looks like we have two files of the same name in the same place. We don’t. We have two files with the same name in two different folders. The Library view simply hides that little fact.

My guess is that over half of the confusion and problems I see related to Libraries are a result of that.

Confusion #2: Where do files go?

So we’ve established that a Library is not a folder, but rather a view or a way of looking at the contents of multiple folders.

But you can kind of/sort of treat a Library like a folder. For example, you can copy files into the Library.

But if a Library is not a folder, where do the files get placed?

Let’s look at the properties of the Music Library again:

Properties of the Music Library highlighting the default checkmark

I’ve highlighted the checkmark next to the first folder location. The checkmark indicates which of the actual folders is consider the “default” folder. That’s the folder into which files will be placed when they are copied into the Library.

The result is that if I copy a new file into my Music Library, it will actually be placed into the “C:\Users\LeoN\My Music” folder.

Libraries aren’t really new

The technology behind Libraries isn’t really all that new. In fact, you’ve been using it since the days of at least Windows XP and probably several versions prior.

It’s basically the same thing as what’s been happening to your Start menu and Desktop all along.

The Start menu is really a view on two different folders. The specific folders may have changed over time, but on my Windows 7 desktop, my Start menu is actually built from the combined contents of two folders:

  • C:\ProgramData\MicrosoftWindows\Start Menu
  • C:\UsersLeoN\AppData\Roaming\MicrosoftWindows\Start Menu

Very much like Libraries, the Start Menu is nothing more than a view of the combined contents of two folders.

The same is true for the items on your Desktop as well.

Libraries can be useful

I don’t want to completely bad-mouth Libraries, as they can be useful.

For example, if I have multiple Music folders all over my machine – perhaps an iTunes collection, a folder with all my Amazon purchased MP3s, another folder or two or three with my previously collected music – it might be convenient to create a Library or update the existing Music Library to reference all those locations. That way, the Library becomes a one-stop location for accessing all of my music, wherever it might be.

Libraries: My suggestion

Some might label me a luddite for suggesting this, but unless you really understand exactly what Libraries are and are not, I suggest you ignore them completely.

I’d even go so far as to uncheck the “Show in navigation pane” option that you see in the Properties dialogs before. That won’t make any files disappear, it’ll simply remove the Library view on the folders that contain your files.

Instead, I’d focus on using the actual folders you care about directly.

My guess is you don’t care about “C:\Users\Public\Public Music”, so all you really need is your own music folder – “C:\Users\LeoN\My Music” in my case.

Reference those actual folders directly rather than trying to use Libraries.

It’ll be a lot less confusing and you’ll know exactly where your files are.

If Libraries sound interesting to you, and you now understand what they are and are not, then use them as you see fit, of course.

But if you’re just not quite sure, they’re completely safe to ignore and probably less confusing to do so. Just use the regular folders that you’re already familiar with instead.

That’s exactly what I do.

64 comments on “Just What Are Windows 7’s “Libraries” and How Do They Work?”

  1. I like Windows 7 (libraries and all). I don’t have to know where the files are located as long as Windows knows. Hit the Windows key and start typing until what you’re looking for shows up. It’s great. It works for me and my system. I don’t know if that holds true for much larger systems. (You know, full terabyte storage or larger) Then with the organize->layout function you can preview your whole collections in the libraries.

  2. Thank you for your response Leo and now I have 2 files on my desktop for documents and pictures.

    Is there a way to delete the libraries word out of the computer altogether now???

    In any case some of my photographs are still x 6 copies each and I have no idea what is doing that.

    Hopefully now I wiil just use the 2 files on the desktop and I am directed there when I click on ‘save’ and choose desktop/documents or pictures.

    I did uncheck the “Show in navigation pane” as you suggested, so now I can focus on the actual folders on my desktop as you suggested there too. At the same time I did that to a second file popped up so I just deleted that because there wasn’t a second box to uncheck.

    Thank you for your e-mail and assistance and enjoy your coffee now.

    John Gallagher

  3. My Gawd…Must be getting better at this..found that article easy to understand….but most important of all it answered things that used to confuse me in the past.
    Ta

  4. Super article Leo – one little question. I have lots of audio tracks on my computer but no music – so is there a way of altering My Music to My Audios?

    Thanks

    Probably, but since that’s one of Windows defaults I’d be tempted to leave it alone and create a new library that referenced the same folders, and call that new library “My Audio”.

    Leo
    14-Jul-2012
  5. it did not dawn on me to right click there, would it be so hard to tell us that in each window? i hate the fact that they think we`ll just know.

  6. This article is right on! I’m a computer consultant, and I see people confused by the Libaries all the time! As you say, it’s confusing enough. The libraries can be handy when you share some things in the Public folders like music. Then you can see Your music and the Public music all at once. When you click on a library, it shows at the top “Includes 2 locations” – that helps.

  7. Good article.
    Windows has already confused things by changing the name and location of ‘My Documents’ and ‘My Documents’. I used some sort of migration tool to go from XP to Win 7 which made it quick to get started but I ended up with some data files in several different places. I prefer to keep data on a separate disk or at least partition, use my own folder names and not bother with ‘Documents’.

  8. Great article.
    @Alex: I would not rename your “My Music” folder as it’s pretty engrained into Windows. This is where libraries come in handy. Not only can you rename the “Music” library by right-clicking it and choosing Rename, you can put your audio in a better location than the default “My Music” folder and access it via the library. Set it as the default folder in the library and remove “My Music.” Done.

  9. How can you get rid of libraries that are already set up automatically? It is confusing because i can’t find files by looking at libraries.

  10. I think you are all missing the boat by not using the Libraries. If you relate them to MAPPING a drive or a location that you always use you will find them a great asset. I didn’t understand them at first but now I use them all of the time instead of trying to map different locations on either my system or my network. I add these locations inside a library and it is very easy to work with. Save a lot of time.

  11. This article was really good, so thanks! It particularly was helpful to clear up one mystery about what was the “default” folder when one copied or saved a file to a library. However, for me, I prefer to use the Public folders for almost everything that is commonly shared by the 2 users of my main PC, namely music, pictures, and vids. Even some documents are more commonly shared, e.g., the Banking folder. I also find it convenient to do things this way as it is handy to share the Public folders over my home network. But, as you have described it, a lot of folders are really unique to each user so the default works really well. I guess it is mostly a matter of personal organizational style. But again…Thanks!

  12. Sorry Leo, I do not agree – libraries are great! If you have ever created a playlist in i-tunes, you are essentially using a variation of the Library concept. I find them incredibly useful. I do agree they are confusing at first but now I would hate to do without the functionality.

  13. As always, I enjoy reading your work, as I like to learn…however I skipped all that stuff from the get go years ago– from my XP to Vista and now to my brand new Win7…

    this is the set up I use I have a folder on my deskyop labeled 1 TEMP. ANYTHING I download goes there and then I move it to where I want it.

    Next ALL of my personal stuff is in C:A Main Folder
    on both my XP and win 7 machines (Vista died last month). In that folder I have all (my) My Documents, My Videos, 1 My website, etc etc (I use 1’s or 2’s to put what I use most first). My explorer is set to open to this (again C:A Main Folder).

    There it is front and center…only at the top :). No fuss, no muss…and no *(&^*%$*&^ windows uber messed up where IS that durn file system, whether it’s a new fangled ‘libary’ system or the usual win-My doc, etc…works for this old PC illiterate computer boob.

  14. re: my previous post…I forgot to mention both PC’s and BOTH backups are set up the exact same way…I point my Syncback to 1 place and BAMMO…everything backed up in 1 stroke. No matter where I go everything is in the same place and looks the same and I don’t need to remember 4 set ups.

  15. Thank you, my sentiments exactly, but here is some needed fill…

    For some of my clients, files and folders are at the edge of their ability to comprehend computers. For them, Libraries are a tidy way to hide the confusion of folder organization. Music goes in… Music. Photographs go in… Pictures. At least it’s better than the damn desktop.

    For the rest of us who want to maintain complete control of our file structure, I also strongly recommend avoiding the Library system. Occasionally visit the Library to see what surprises lie within, maybe clean it out, then get the hell away from them.

    I spend most of my day traipsing around my file system, and I have long since grown weary of Windows Explorer’s shortcomings. I strongly recommend a Windows Explorer replacement for heavy file system users, and there are many good free systems, and a few great replacement systems for purchase. I have been using Directory Opus, and it’s cost is the best few bucks I have spend on my computer, period.

  16. Sincerely, here a very superficial understanding of what libraries can be used for is presented. Libraries can be very useful in collecting in one “virtual drawer” all the information on one topic that may be otherwise all over the hard disk in different folders. For example say: you have legal documents classified under a legal service folder, legal documents classified under a comptroller folder, legal documents classified under a marketing folder, you can set up a library as LEGAL MATTERS that will include these folders in one library. In addition to avoid copying files all over the hard disk, i.e. that is, making copies and putting them in different folders, it is more appropriate to just create direct accesses with a shortcuts. Doing this is more efficient and it results the same. In addition one can create libraries where there will only be these direct accesses pointing to the various folders where the files are. Hence one can create as many Libraries as needed to fill its matrix need to criss cross the information.
    I recommend it.
    In a BLOG that is reputed to come from a guru, I would have hoped to see an article with more depth and more knowledge of the very topic. Here it shows the writer is indeed not using this feature very often and has a blatant lack of understanding of it.
    Hence before bad mouthing or putting down something, I also recommend investigating it properly. I have only been using this library feature for less than a year and I found ways to generate me significant time efficiencies.

  17. I half understood your answer(s), but disagree with all the folks that think this was a ‘good’ evolution as released in W7. This (as most change for the sake of change) should have been ‘optional”. Then the fore mentioned folks could choose the new, and the rest of us stay with the old. I like to download files to my desktop, not the downloads ‘library’ nor a ‘folder” on my desktop. That is to say I want a PDF as a PDF, and nothing more or less. Then it’s a recognizable item, in my face, until I deal with it, not some forgotten/lost file. By default windows 7 doesn’t play nice with that. It’s been a while since, but I finally got my PC allowing me to do just that, and I don’t remember how, but it’s aggravating to deal with ‘libraries” when I could just go to ‘my Documents and it was all there in simple folders. I can’t wait for W8 and the disruption to follow!! – That’s why folks are keeping their XP machines..

  18. I agree, at first, the Libraries concept can be confusing. I can also see how it would be hard for an older person to adapt. However, after only using Windows 7 since December, I have found Libraries to be useful.

    It took me a few days and a few tries to realize that the Documents library showed both My Documents and shared documents; Music showed both My Music and shared music’ etc.

    I have also found Libraries to be a quick shortcut. I backup files from two other computers to my laptop. I created a folder to store these backup files on my laptop. And I created a library, which I called “Storage” which points to this backup folder. Now when I need to access the backup folder, it’s quicker to click the Storage library than to remember the path to the backup folder and click on each folder and subfolder to get there.

  19. Hi Leo. Why not just remove the shared folder under the properties of the Library? In this way you have an easy access to your own profile folders.

  20. Thank you Leo. I now realise that a library is not a separate place but just a list of other places that have a common theme – such as music.
    If only the W7 help file made that clear in the first place!

  21. Thanks for the tip on unchecking “Show in navigation pane”. That helped somewhat. I stress every time I use my computer now even though it is a great computer but I HATE Win7. I have no control over my files now. It is Hell on Earth to save something from the Internet and to move files from one place to another. Win XP was the best operating system ever invented – simple and efficient. I paid a lot of money for my new PC and it will probably be my last computer, but I dread having to use Win7 for the next 3, 4, 5 years.

  22. Thanks Leo for the info.. Have made a shortcut on my desktop with your info. I’m one of the elder folks that hates unnecessary usless change!!

  23. Thanks. I had already been ignoring them, but understanding the concept means I can still ignore them. and I opted not to show on navigation pane.

  24. Thank you so much for explaining Libraries.
    I have had a really hard time with using Libraries.
    I was treating them like folders.
    My Desktop disappeared into Pictures and I couldn’t drag it out without it linking to Favorites. It made me nuts because to get to my Desktop link I had to go into Pictures or Doc. etc…Finally I deleted everything, after I realized they are all just links that stem from User. Really quite confusing to me.
    Leo your site is great. Out of all the ‘Geek’ sites I have encountered, I find yours the easiest to follow because you have a way of explaining things in a simple and logical manner-without all the hard to under stand terminology for a beginner.I have passed your site onto other friends like me that are not so PC savvy.Thanks to your site I am actually learning a few things.
    Cheers.

  25. I’ve been working with directories (folders) and files since the days of DOS. They’re like file cabinets – I put files in the drawers (folders) and expect to find them where I put them when I want them again. It’s easy to understand and works great for me. I can’t see the need in libraries and will probably never use them. I like simple and straight-forward things that don’t need to be explained because they’re easy to understand. I like the “classic” Windows desktop for the same reason and also try to get rid all the fluff (like libraries) and trailware as soon as I can.

  26. One really good use: Say you have a folder in documents that is way down in the list but that you use a lot. If you make a “library” for that folder, you can go right to it without having to do a long scroll through documents. Can’t have to many or isn’t worth it, but if it’s something you use a LOT, it’s great!!!

  27. I don’t like windows 7 at all and am thinking of deleting the programme and going back to windows XP. It is much simpler to use. And I prefer simplicitiy!!!

  28. “I’d even go so far as to uncheck the “Show in navigation pane” option that you see in the Properties dialogs before. That won’t make any files disappear, it’ll simply remove the Library view on the folders that contain your files”.

    How do we do this?? When I bring up “properties” for a particular libary I am unable to uncheck the box.

  29. I too appreciate your clear writing, Leo. I teach computer basics to seniors at a senior center and always look for better ways to explain things. Good job on Libraries.

  30. I still prefer the XP way of My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, etc. It’s so easy to store things in those simple folders. I don’t have to think twice when I want to look for something.

  31. I’m surprised at all the folks who don’t like the libraries. I love them. I don’t have to hunt around to find out where I saved that picture or that document by clicking on ten different folders, and I don’t need to be ultra-particular about where I save something in the first place. MS got it right on this one, as far as I’m concerned.

  32. Hi Leo,
    Your explanation of Libraries is great. And for me just in time. I got a new portable computer with Windows 7 Pro, and right away got confused by the Libraries. Very quickly i simply decided to disregard.
    But now, understanding what they are, I think that I can use them as a “parallel” filing system,
    instead of storing duplicate files in different folders.
    You are Great! (As always).
    Best Regards,
    Joseph.

  33. I still don’t understand “Libraries.” Why did the developers think this was going to be helpful? What was wrong with the way Xp did it?

  34. Leo, I’ve said it before, and it’s certainly worth repeating. Sir, you do an incredibly good job explaining concepts in a clear, concise, linear manner. I like the idea of libraries. What I wish Win7 had two more powerful attributes. The first is symbolic links like Unix. The second, I wish it had file-tagging similar to what Google and others have for associating content under multiple ‘views’ with one location. I suppose one could call that the converse of ‘libraries.’ When those features come in to play, I look forward to reading your insightful take on each.

    Keep up the great job Leo!

    Actually links already exist (Can the same file have two different names?) – though to those that understand the difference they are hard links, and not symbolic. And of course there’s no “ln” command in Windows, another utility is used.

    Leo
    14-Jul-2012
  35. LEO,i wrote this in the wrong place, so i will start over.I have not been learning computer even a year yet and the library is driving me crazy! i acidently hit something about the library popped up and it downloads every attachment to library and i have to try to figure out what to open it with. is there a way to stop downloading there without deleting everything there? I appreciate every letter you send. i went to a computer class to try to find this out and they knew nothing about libraries. I will read your segment on libraries again. thanks for all your help.

  36. I read the article, still don’t know how libraries work. I created my own tree of directories, “Documents” on top, “My Documents” underneath, all my folders “Excel”, “Word”, “My Pictures”, “My Music”, etc. and the corresponding files in each folder. This works fine for me, the same as in Windows XP.

  37. Hi Leo, it was great reading your article about Libraries as I absolutely hate them. You suggest:

    “I’d even go so far as to uncheck the “Show in navigation pane” option that you see in the Properties dialogs before. That won’t make any files disappear, it’ll simply remove the Library view on the folders that contain your files.”

    However, I can’t do this as the properties window does not allow me to do that. Its there but not available for me to uncheck. What can I do to allow me to uncheck them?

    Thanks,

    Frank

    A number of people raised this issue. I’ve added a sidebar to the article that describes what to do.

    Leo
    15-Jul-2012
  38. I suspect Libraries were introduced because many people would close a document without choosing a place to file it. With Libraries, your data goes into Documents, Music into Music, etc. You then have a better chance of finding your file. People who know exactly where to file their docs continue to do so. But I think that adding another filing level called Libraries has been a darn nuisance to most!

  39. Libraries are the best thing since sliced bread. Personally, I prefer to buy a whole loaf and cut it by hand. It stays fresher longer. I have a similar attitude to libraries. I understand why they’re there and that they make things easier for most people. But if you like to tinker with your system, they just get in the way.

  40. Hi Leo -very interesting & significant article; many thanks. I come from a technical/business background and have always organised my folders/directories by Project or topic if you like. For this reason, My Documents and My Music drive me mad! My “bathroom” project for instance might have some pictures of where the pipes are, a Word document describing a particular feature, a PDF version of an invoice and a spreadsheet totalling my expenses. I don’t want all these types spread over my PC according to Windows’ My Whatever categories, I want them together in my “bathroom” folder. However, I may now use Libraries as a way of indexing-in to music and pictures as another view of things of the same type. Thanks again for the enlightening article.

  41. One thing I can see immediately  from the examples that you provide, is that the problem of the “two same-named files in two different folders, showing up in one library” problem would be vastly  alleviated if only Win 7’s Library view had a column displaying which folder each file was in (i.e., its path)! The availability of this column in Explorer is standard under Windows XP Pro; I don’t see why Win 7’s Library view couldn’t also provide it — it would seem to be absolutely essential  to clarity.

    If in fact a “file path” column is  available — then, for God’s sake, USE IT!!!  — and meanwhile, you, Leo, have been guilty of an important oversight! When a “multi-folder view” (which after all is what a Library is) combines files from more than one folder, this information is not a luxury, it is a absolute necessity.

  42. I still don’t get how to use Libraries and this stuff didn’t help. I’ve had Win 7 since it came out and I still lose material that I filed in Documents or Libraries or whatever else. I’ve gone back to printing stuff out and filing in some new filing cabinets that I’ve recently purchased!
    I’ve recently lost some extremely important material that I took great care and caution when trying to “keep” the stuff–So, so maddening!
    I have the book ‘ Win 7 for idiots ‘ & still no help.
    R.

  43. Thanks for reinforcing my own beliefs. I’ve been organized for years. I could see no benefit to Libraries, only downsides. But thanks for mentioning there’s a checkbox so libraries don’t show up! Now THAT I’m going to use!

  44. Thank you so very much for your dissertation on Win 7 Libraries. It is the best explanation I have found for an area that has confused me since I became exposed to Win 7. I will stay away from them from now on and wish I could completely eliminate them. I can find what I want in my PC without having something more pre-digested for me.

  45. General agreement here I see.
    I HATE Libraries.
    Of course MS just foisted this on users caring little that most people want a smooth no significant changes transition from one OS to the next.
    Yes of course we want increased speed & im proved security, but who ever would have asked for Libraries that you can’t properly opt out of?

    I am very particular to organise my HD’s so that I have many partition options in which to create folders. This is basic file management, & should be everyones concern because mostly we now have Tbytes of data & yes occasionally we all lose files.
    Best tip I can offer is save important stuff in two locations, best on two different HD’s.
    Then use a fast search program such as the free
    “Everything Search Engine” – here: http://www.voidtools.com/

  46. Well, I for one hate Libraries and always put my documents on a drive that is only used for data. I don’t want anything on the C: drive as that is almost a guarantee of losing data. I must say I like Windows less and less because you are forced to use what Microsoft thinks is best and I know what I am doing and how I organize things and Microsoft makes it harder and harder for me to do what I usually do, this from how W7 acts when you want to rename a file on an external drive (you have to have permission to do this! It is my bloody drive!) to how W8 looks (also not good: if you happen to have a tablet it might be OK but on a computer with a keyboard and mouse it is worthless). If it keeps on like this I will go out and buy a Mac soon…

  47. Hi Leo,
    as an old-time (seriously, I was on the initial IBM PC development team) PC user, I agree entirely that the Libraries concept adds confusion. However, Libraries are there for a reason. We dinosaurs are still thinking about physical drives and folders, but very soon all data will be virtual, in data pools that are managed, backed up, and moved in and out of the cloud.

    The ‘new kids’ get it instinctively, because they’ve never been polluted with DOS concepts. It’s you and I that will have to change our thinking, or be left behind.

  48. @David
    I recently came to the same conclusion. So I decided to try using Windows the way it was designed, libraries and all. It turns out to be quite intuitive. Now I have the best of both worlds. I use libraries when convenient, and I use the folder approach when convenient.

  49. I find libraries extremely useful for download directories. Different browsers and different applications download files in different places. Until I started using libraries I was continually searching through multiple folders to see where my new file went.

    As for the problem with multiple files with the same name, if you Arrange by Folder, it’s obvious which file is which.

  50. I find them as useful as a homeless person with a wet blanket when temperatures hitting record lows…well you should get the picture by now. It seems to me, unless doing some heavy duty computing around the world, there is no use for this if you are not. Will probably turn it off soon-it is a waste of time(in my humble opinion.)

  51. Leo: A minor complaint – your screenshots in the article have, on the right, the notation “Arrange by: Folder.” Maybe Microsoft changed this since the article was written, but when arranged by *folder* there is a subheader of the real folder name in the file list and the files are not intermixed. If listed “Arrange by: Name” the files are intermixed. The list of entries to “Arrange By” are different for each of the defined Libraries (and related to the folder ‘type.’)
    That said, Libraries are confusing. And that’s probably why Microsoft decided to hide Libraries in WIndows 8.

  52. Thank goodness I found this article. My hair was about to be pulled as I just didnt understand. (I still dont fully but I am clearer on their intent so will look to ignore them! I definitely was in the confused camp!

  53. Other than some initial confusion about where the files were going when I first got my Windows 7 laptop, I don’t find them confusing at all. I actually find them quite convenient. In reality, I don’t really care where my file goes as long as I can find it again, and know that it is backed up. Doing a full system backup, guarantees the file will be backed up. So if I save a document by clicking on the Document library, then I really don’t care where that document is stored. I know that I can get it back by clicking Document library in the File|Open dialog box, or in Windows Explorer and opening the document from there. I also find them useful as shortcuts. I created a Projects library which is easier to get to than c:\users\James\My Documents\Projects. One click and I’m there. No navigating.

  54. (Windows 7) My Folder “View” setting is to “SHOW all hidden file, folders” But the “Shown in navigation pane” is still checked and is grayed out. How do I (or can I) get that setting turned off?

  55. Windows libraries are worse than confusing; a more than useless feature… along with folders that are named My Music, My Videos, My Pictures, etc, and are confused with the actual folders Music, Videos, Pictures.

  56. Leo,

    Thank you for the explanation on libraries. I agree with most of the confusing conclusions above. Although your article is the clearest I have seen anywhere to date, not matter how hard I try to understand them, I will not for two reasons. First, they are confusing. Second, I have neurological damage preventing my brain from seeing them as virtual. My brain sees them as physical, thus the confusion. There is no way around it for me – it is a disability. I want to be able to organize the files and folders as my brain allows. The way things used to be! I am fine with physical files/folders and locations. With that being said, I have a couple of questions.

    1. Others have mentioned saving files to an external drive. Is there a type of external drive that I could use as a physical structure only? One that would sort of “Mimic” my c drive without altering the files or folders in any way – the old fashioned way – the way I learned. I could handle that.

    2. Alternatively, is there a straightforward system I could use without lots of learning?

    Many thanks.

    • I’m not really sure I understand your question, but external drives aren’t involved in Libraries. SO any drive you get would just appear as another drive letter, and would be another physical place you can do with whatever you will.

  57. Leo, Great explanation. If I can remember, there is a third party download called Windows Classic. This will convert the view back to the XP look/functionality on vista/7 and gets rid of all that excess kool stuff which I will never use. Some of us still like to drive old dependable cars and use old dependable bug free OS’s.

    • I believe the program you are referring to ie “Classic Shell” which Leo has recommended. Classic Shell is no longer being supported and has been replaced by Open Shell

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