Why You Can Ignore Windows Libraries
By Leo Notenboom
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.
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:
Note that it lists two folders as “Library locations.”
Where “LeoN” would be replaced by your login name on your machine.
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.
This post is excerpted with permission from Leo Notenboom.
About Leo Notenboom
Leo A. Notenboom is the owner of Puget Sound Software, LLC and the Leo in Ask Leo!. Leo has been in the personal computer and software industry since 1979, as a software engineer, a manager of software engineers, and as a consultant. In 1983 Leo joined what was then a medium sized local company called Microsoft and spent the next 18 years in a wide variety of groups working on a wide variety of software. If you're running Microsoft Windows, if you've used a Microsoft development tool or Microsoft Money, or if you've ever purchased a ticket through Expedia, there's a good chance you've been touched by some of his work. And of course, since 2003, Leo has been answering your tech questions on Ask Leo!