Using Windows 7 Libraries

Windows 7 includes a new system for organizing your personal files called “Libraries”.  On the surface they seem to work much the same as the old system but a closer look reveals that, unlike the previous system where each user gets a documents, music and videos folder, libraries can include many different directories.

These directories are important to Media Center users because it’s the basis of where Media Center imports local media such as music.  These can be setup from within Media Center but controlling them from the Windows shell is somewhat easier.

Windows7 Explorer Libraries

Viewing libraries from Windows is as easy as opening your start menu and clicking the user’s name at the top right under the user’s icon. This brings up an Explorer window showing any libraries that have been setup.  The default ones being Documents, Music, Videos and Pictures. Browsing any of these libraries will make it obvious these aren’t just another set of folders in Windows 7.

Windows7 Videos Library

Windows 7 Libraries area actually a collection of folders containing the type of file that library is setup for (as well as any other files saved to that library).  These new libraries are essentially just a method to organize your folder structure outside of the basic hard disk structure in Explorer. Adding and removing folders from these collections is fairly simple as well, just click the “library locations” link in the top right corner of the toolbar.

Change Windows7 Library Locations

This presents a dialog which allows you to add and remove folders from this library as well as set the default save location.  It also enables the movement of folders up and down in the library display saving unwanted scrolling each time a library is accessed.

Adding new libraries is just as easy. Simply right-click in the libraries display and select “New > New Library”.  As easy as creating a new folder in Explorer a new library has been created.

New Windows7 Libraries

Entering the new library prompts users to add folders to the newly created library to get it started. That’s all there is to setting up libraries in Windows 7.  A fairly simple process that integrates very well with Media Center.  Adding folders to your Music, Videos and Pictures libraries will affect your folders inside Media Center adding an easy way to manipulate settings outside Media Center.

New Windows7 Library Empty

A really simple feature that is highly functional, everything should be this easy. That’s really all there is to working with Windows 7 Libraries. Also, check out our feature on Windows 7: Play To.

Need to add network folders to your library? Check out this guide on using network shares in libraries!


Anonymous said...

How did you include a remote share? Whenever I tried, it claimed I couldn't add it because it wasn't indexed, whatever that means...

MHealy said...

The network shares seen in the video library above were added through Windows Media Player. Unfortunately, adding network shares through Windows Explorer doesn't seem to work at the moment. If I figure out a work-around I will be sure to post it.

Anonymous said...

You can include a remote share, but it needs to be indexed. If you are running XP or Vista on the server, make sure you have Windows Search 4 installed and then go to the Indexing Options control panel to make sure the share is being indexed.

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