Windows 7 Libraries: Frequently Asked Questions

Applies To: Windows 7




For a complete view of Windows 7 resources, articles, demos, and guidance, please visit the Springboard Series for Windows 7 on the Windows Client TechCenter.
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What are Libraries?

Libraries are a Windows 7 feature that gives you a consolidated view of related files in one place. You can search Libraries to find the right files quickly, even when those files are in different folders or on different systems (when those folders are indexed on the remote systems or cached locally by using Offline Files).

What is the difference between a Library and a folder?

A folder is simply a container for storing files—nothing more and nothing less. A Library doesn’t contain files. Rather, a Library provides a single aggregated view of multiple folders and their contents.

If I add a folder to a Library, does the Library make a duplicate copy of the folder’s contents?

No. Adding folder locations to a Library does not duplicate or copy those files or folders in any way. The Library stores only the file or folder location. You can access your files through the Library or by opening them directly in Windows Explorer.

What are the default Libraries in Windows 7?

Windows 7 has four default Libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. Each default Library contains two folder locations: one in the user’s profile folder and the other in the Public profile folder (My Music and Public Music, for example).

What happens if I copy a file to a Library? In which folder does it go?

You can copy a file to a Library or save a file in a Library without choosing a folder location. When you do so, Windows 7 copies or saves the file in the Library’s default save location. The default save location for each Library is the first folder location that you add to the Library. However, you can change these locations.

What happens to my files when I remove a folder location from a Library?

When you remove a folder location from a Library, you remove only the Library view of that folder. Removing a folder location from a Library doesn’t actually delete the folder or its files.

What happens to my files when I delete a Library?

When you delete a Library, you only remove the Library from the Navigations pane of Windows Explorer. Deleting a Library doesn’t actually delete the folders that it aggregates.

Can I nest one Library inside another Library?


My Library contents are arranged by folder location. How do I arrange the files in my Libraries in different ways?

The default arrangement for Library content is by folder location, but you can choose a different arrangement from the Arrange by control. For example, you can arrange the Documents Library by author, date modified, tag, type, or name. You can also enable the Preview pane and use large icons (click the View button in the Windows Explorer toolbar, and click Large Icons) to get a more-detailed view of content in the Library.

Why wouldn’t I just leave my files and folders where they are?

When you use Libraries, you are leaving your files and folders where they are. Libraries simply allow you to view groups of related files, without actually moving them. This feature gives you a better tool that you can use to find and instantly organize your files by allowing you to browse and search them using metadata.

What are the network requirements for adding a remote folder to a Library?

Libraries can work with networks that are based on HomeGroups, workgroups, or domains—as long as you can access the shared folder on the network and that share is part of the Windows Search index on the remote system or that share is cached locally by using Offline Files. Windows 7 has a new feature called HomeGroup, which simplifies file sharing.

What should I tell my friends and family about Libraries?

Tell your friends and family that Libraries can give them a convenient way to instantly organize their files without having to move the files. They can organize their files almost any way they like, whether the files are in different folders or on different systems.

How can Libraries help me better support my friends and family?

Libraries can help your friends and family better organize and find their files, so they might be less likely to lose important files. Using Libraries is intuitive and easy.