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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Many folks have experienced some confusion about how Windows 7 libraries relate to user data files. To overcome some of the confusion, I offer a short tutorial for creating a new library, safely removing the new library, and how to manage files in the library while avoiding any unintentional destruction of your user files.

    Let’s assume you have a folder located in the root of your (C:\) drive named Pics. Your path to this folder would look like this: C:\Pics. Now you probably have some .jpg files somewhere on your computer. Find two of them and just copy them to the C:\pics folder so we can have a couple of files to work with in this tutorial. Let’s also assume you want to create a new library, for example, named Photos. To create the Photos library, go to the Windows Explorer Navigation Pane (the pane on the far left that shows a listing of folders on your computer). Using your mouse, right click on Libraries and click New | Library. Type Photos into the resulting field and press enter. Congratulations, you have just created your first library. Now when you click on the Photos library, the Contents Pane (to the right of the Navigation Pane) will show you that Photos is empty and No folders have been included in this library. Now it is time to add a folder to your new library. Navigate to the C:\Pics folder, right click, select Include in library | Photos. Now you have a top-level folder containing two files in your new Photos library. You did not move or copy the original folder/files; you merely included them in the library.

    (Scenario 1) - The original Pics folder is still actually located in the root of the (C:\) drive, with the location path still C:\Pics. If you want to delete the Photos library containing the Pics folder, you can do so and the original C:\Pics folder and its contents will remain intact. The C:\ Pics folder will not be lost. Try it, you’ll like it! Right click the Photos library, and click delete. Look for C:\Pics, and you will find it including the two .jpg files you originally copied to the C:\Pics folder.

    (Scenario 2) - Now if you choose to keep the Photos library, but you want to remove the Pics folder from the Photos library, then you can expand the Photos library to bring the Pics folder into view in the Navigation Pane. Right click on the Pics folder and select Remove location from library. This will remove the Pics folder from the Photos library only, while the original C:\ Pics folder remains safely intact along with the two .jpg files that it contains. One word of caution here: if the Pics folder were a sub-folder of a top-level folder, there would be no option to Remove location from library. Your only option would then be deletion, and that will also delete the source folder C:\Pics and any files contained therein.

    (Scenario 3) - If you want to delete the two .jpg files stored inside the Pics folder within the Photos library, and at the same time delete the original source .jpg files in (C:\Pics), then left click on the Photos library icon to expand it and move down to the Pics folder and left click to select it. Next, move over to the Pics folder Contents Pane to your right, select the files, right click them and select delete. When you do this, both the library .jpg files and the original source .jpg files will be tossed into the Recycle Bin.

    To sum it all up, you can delete a library without deleting the original source files stored on your hard drive, and you can remove a folder from within a library without losing the original source files stored on your hard drive as long as that folder within the library is a top-level folder. If the folder is a sub-folder of a top-level folder, deleting it will delete the source folder and files. If you delete individual files from your library folders, the original source files will also be deleted.

    I hope this tutorial makes it easier to understand a library’s impact on your user files. If you actually work through the tutorial and try each of the three scenarios, I believe it will be more understandable, and enable you to enjoy libraries without the fear of endangering your user files.

    Deadeye81

    "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill

  2. #2
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    The main problem I have with "libraries" is that I can find no use for them. When I open one of my applications for image files and click "File", they open a small explorer window in the partition where I have all my image files stored in folders named for their content, as well as listing the last four files I have worked on.

    When I open Excel and click "File", it opens a small explorer window where all my excel files are stored in folders named for their content, as well as listing the last four files I have worked on.

    My Word documents are similarly arranged, as are my web files and, well, you get my drift.

    Why do I need to put a "library" in between my apps and my files, when all my apps already know where my files are stored? I have multiple partitions for the way I work and sort my various files, and I can find no need or logic in putting another layer into a system that already works quite well for me.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

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  3. #3
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Nice howto Gerald but I'm of the same opinion as bbearren here.
    Quote Originally Posted by bbearren View Post
    The main problem I have with "libraries" is that I can find no use for them.
    Why do I need to put a "library" in between my apps and my files, when all my apps already know where my files are stored? I have multiple partitions for the way I work and sort my various files, and I can find no need or logic in putting another layer into a system that already works quite well for me.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Thanks all,

    I appreciate your comments, and I understand your perspectives. However, the reason I posted the tutorial is to offer some help to those who are interested in working with Libraries who may be somewhat timid to do so because of certain risks they have seen or heard discussed since Windows 7 came into our world. I have no illusions of making any attempt to persuade others who prefer to use their own system. Hey, I got along without Libraries for years as well, but I like to understand how newer things work too.

    Libraries have some great benefits. Any folder/file added to a library is automatically indexed for Windows Search (with the exception of files in the two Program Files folders and the Windows folder), and of course I realize that many are not thrilled with Windows Search. In addition, every folder/file in a library is automatically assigned read permissions for any user joined to a homegroup. And assigning read and write permissions is as easy as a right mouse click.

    And speaking of homegroups, they make it very easy for home users with no experience in networking to put together their home network with a minimal amount of heartburn. While it is true that at present there is a great mix of XP, Vista (to some extent), and Windows 7 machines in homes today, time and attrition will see to it that eventually something similar to the HomeGroup feature will be found on all Windows computers in the times ahead.

    So Libraries are foundational to other features we now have available in the Windows OS.

    As JoeP so aptly expressed it, "that's why they call it personal computing."
    Deadeye81

    "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill

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    Those of us who have grown used to the "My Pictures", "My Music", etc. paradigm of Windows XP and organized our folders and files accordingly may not see the need or advantage of the Library structure. What I see as the biggest advantage is that a user may create a folder anywhere on the PC, not have to have it in the "majic" folder structure, add it to a Library, and have its contents treated exactly like everything else in the Library whether that is pictures, music, videos, or just files. To those who are highly organized or have a touch of OCD that may be heresy. For the vast majority of users who just want access to their data it can be a valuable tool.

    Joe
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  6. #6
    5 Star Lounger
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    Here's another reason I'm happy that Gerald posted the tutorial.

    I have seen any number of well-meaning posters here comment that if you delete the library you also delete the data file(s) in the library.

    Those comments used to puzzle me, because in my "play-time" with my machine I had deleted libraries multiple
    times as I came up with a newer organizing schema (usually connected with ways to facilitate backing up my data.)

    I never felt technically secure enough to challenge/correct the poster - but I should have.

    So, I'm glad Gerald created this tutorial.
    Dick

  7. #7
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Call me OCD if you want (although ODD may be more accurate); my CPU cycles are valuable and I prefer to use them on something useful and time-saving for me.

    To me, a feature is just bloat if it's unwanted, unneccessary or plain unused.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeP View Post
    Those of us who have grown used to the "My Pictures", "My Music", etc. paradigm of Windows XP and organized our folders and files accordingly may not see the need or advantage of the Library structure. What I see as the biggest advantage is that a user may create a folder anywhere on the PC, not have to have it in the "majic" folder structure, add it to a Library, and have its contents treated exactly like everything else in the Library whether that is pictures, music, videos, or just files. To those who are highly organized or have a touch of OCD that may be heresy. For the vast majority of users who just want access to their data it can be a valuable tool.

    Joe
    I didn't (don't; I still dual boot XP on two machines) use any of those, either. They're all empty folders, except for the samples that were pre-loaded. My "libraries" are partitions. The partitions have content-related names, so that when I open Windows Explorer, my entire filing system is spelled out there in the left pane. If I want to create a new folder, I just click on the major type of content in the left pane, (which opens the partition/drive in the right pane with all its subfolders) right-click and select "New Folder" and give it a content related name.

    To me, it doesn't really matter how good or bad Windows Search function is, because it so rare that I actually use it. I know where to find my files in a couple of clicks. My backup system is drive imaging; when I backup, I have no doubt about whether or not all the files that I think are there are actually there.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
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  9. #9
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Thanks for the article, worth reading.
    I've never had much use for the "My Pictures", and other such folders in Windows XP either, so naturally I wound not have too much
    use for the Libraries concept, and that is largely due to how I have my file system & locations are organized.
    But I think it's (libraries concept) a decent effort on Microsoft's part for the average Windows user.
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  10. #10
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Gerald, I also added a thumbs up. The ttutorial does a good job of explaining libraries, for both those that find them useful, and those that do not.
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  11. #11
    2 Star Lounger
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    Is it that most of use hardcore users thought "My Documents" was a foolish idea except for a brand new user that thought kewl everything opens there. Store my pictures, my music and you know the rest. Never used it when they started it with xp and still don't nor the library with 7 and it will die out as My Documents did which is now Users. I'll store my files on a different hard drive and back them up when I see fit. Trying to backup/copy all that library mess would be ridiculous since some of it is registry

  12. #12
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    Neither Gerald nor I am trying to convince anyone to use Libraries. See post #4.

    I certainly am not trying to debate the goodness or badness of this and other Microsoft design decisions. Nor do I mean to imply that anyone using their own organizational methods should change or is wrong for making the decision to stick with what they have. Far from it. Do whatever works for you.

    I am convinced that the vast majority of users just want to be able to store their data and retrieve it in what they see as a logical way without having to do much thinking about organization. Many if not most of the Loungers are not the typical users. Many of us have long time experience (and the scars to prove it ). We have developed our own preferences and habits over many years of trial, error, discovery, and tears.

    I think if you look dispassionately at the trends in hardware and software you'll see that reasons for many of the things we took for granted as good operational methods in the past such as multiple partitions, discrete disk drive letters, frequent defragging, endless tweaking of the OS, etc. are slowly disappearing. For example, look at how Windows Home Server and the new Small Business Server code named Aurora handle storage. Storage is pooled. From an end user perspective there is no such thing as a drive letter. Data may be duplicated such that the copy is on a different spindle all handled by the OS. I think there is a good chance this will make an appearance in the next version of Windows perhaps as an option. From a non-technical end user perspective this is terrific. Less to remember, less to worry about, fewer decisions to make, less training to become productive.

    Once again, I am not trying to convince anyone to abandon what works for them. Just trying to look past my own experience and prejudices.

    Joe

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  13. #13
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Gerald,

    Nice tutorial! I don't understand what all the commotion is about. It's a feature use it or don't it's a personal decision. Why do some people have 10 screwdrivers and others only 2 in their tool boxes, because they feel they have a need for them. Same applies here.

    I do however feel the need to clarify one of your statements which may be a bit misleading.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Shepard View Post
    If you want to delete the two .jpg files stored inside the Pics folder within the Photos library, and at the same time delete the original source .jpg files in (C:\Pics), then left click on the Photos library icon to expand it and move down to the Pics folder and left click to select it. Next, move over to the Pics folder Contents Pane to your right, select the files, right click them and select delete. When you do this, both the library .jpg files and the original source .jpg files will be tossed into the Recycle Bin.
    There is only one copy of these two .jpg files not two. The library merely points to the actual copy of the files in C:\Pics. Some may interpret your statement to mean that both the files in the library {C:\Pics} and the files in the location {for example C:\VacationPics} where you copied those files from will be deleted and this is not the case, the files in C:\VacationPics remain.

    I hope this clears up any confusion {as I read Gerald's statement anyway} that may exits.

    Again, Thanks for a good overall tutorial Gerald.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  14. #14
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Hi RG, and thank you!

    If I understand correctly what you are saying, the .jpg files seen in the Photos library are not actually files, but pointers to the real files located in C:\Pics. That is correct, and I did not intend to leave the impression that there are actually two pairs of files involved.

    The two .jpgs located in C:\Pics were not copied to the Photos library, but they were included in the Photos library when I right clicked on C:\Pics and selected Include in library | Photos.

    However, if you delete the two .jpg pointers in the Photos library Pics folder, then the real source files in C:\Pics will be deleted. I tested this on two Windows 7 machines and found it to work that way, and research has confirmed it.

    Now in (Scenario 2) when you right click on the Pics folder in the Photos library and select Remove location from library, the Pics folder and the two .jpg pointers are removed from the Photos library, but the files in C:\Pics do remain.

    Hope this clears things up.

    Thanks
    Deadeye81

    "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill

  15. #15
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Gerald,

    Right-on...you said it so much better than I did.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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