Windows 7 Forums
Welcome to Windows 7 Forums. Our forum is dedicated to helping you find support and solutions for any problems regarding your Windows 7 PC be it Dell, HP, Acer, Asus or a custom build. We also provide an extensive Windows 7 tutorial section that covers a wide range of tips and tricks.


Windows 7: Difference between Libraries and Folders with Shortcuts

08 Mar 2009   #1
Ouizardus

Windows 7 x64 (Build 7057)
 
 
Difference between Libraries and Folders with Shortcuts

I'm very unclear on the purpose of "libraries" in Windows 7. It seems to me that the same structure could be duplicated in Windows 7 and earlier versions by simply creating a folder (as a "library") and putting the relevant shortcuts to other folders or files in that folder.

Given that, the whole library system just seems redundant, and it sometimes even gets in the way. Do libraries have any other purposes or advantages over shortcuts of which I am unaware? Thanks.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
09 Mar 2009   #2
Chappy

Vista Ult 64bit - Windows 7 Ult 7264 64bit
 
 

I thought the same thing originally, that these Library things really had no use for me.
After using them for awhile tho, I have completely changed my mind on this and now I'm looking for other things that I can use the Library base XML as a template for other tasks.

Say you had some Pictures stashed around your machine in different locations, for different reasons. Like me, I have many areas where I have folders of different types of pictures scattered thru 3 OS's. Adding these folders to the Pictures Library offers fast easy access to all my pictures no matter where they are, and they're quickly available from the Start menu or the Explorer pane in any window.

I'm strictly using the Library functions now and I would miss it terribly if it were not there now. Doing this by adding shortcuts to a folder is a very clunky and unproductive way to attempt accomplishing the same thing, without really succeeding.
Work with them awhile and hopefully you'll see the power of these libraries.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Mar 2009   #3
Ouizardus

Windows 7 x64 (Build 7057)
 
 

Interesting. Since Windows 95, I've been organised my files into folders based on their type: Pictures, Games, Work, etc. Although sometimes the line between such divisions is sometimes blurred, I still almost never lose anything. I suppose that thus far, I've simply found that an organised file system is all I need.

There are a few other ambiguities about libraries:
* If you copy or save a new file into the root of a library, where does it go on your HD?
* How aware are other programs of the library system? For example, if you are used to having two sets of items (say data files) in a library, they may be in very different locations on your HD. It seems to me this could make it hard for you to find them if you need to access them through a program that has no knowledge or access to libraries.

My personal experience tells me that libraries may lead to much confusion (and frustration) for some end-users who believe that files are in their library, but do not know the real location of such files. Sure, technical users such as ourselves get the idea easily enough, but many end-users are unlikely to read documentation, visit forums, or even Google such things. Such users may think that libraries are just another place to store stuff on their computers, and think nothing more of it. I just think of my poor grandmother or aunt who simply don't grasp many very fundamental computing concepts needed to use computers properly and efficiently. They understand just enough to get by, but no more. Ideally, this is how computers should be. Unfortunately, when the slightest thing goes wrong, they haven't the faintest idea where to even start.

Anyway, all this to say that I'm afraid making lots of files and folders *look* like they're all grouped together when they're really not at all is very risky business. Even if you educate users about libraries the first time they use them, people will forget. However, I suppose there's no way to make a system work for everyone, especially one with a global audience like Windows.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

22 Aug 2009   #4
dubbbs

Windows 7 RC1
 
 

Similar to a music player for example. You can drag music from wherever into iTunes and sort/organize your "library" how you like.

So yeah, I see the application, but still don't see myself using it that often. I prefer REAL organization--my music folders are a case-in-point, where they're all organized by artist and whatnot, not just in the music player library.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2009   #5
kegobeer

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ouizardus View Post
* If you copy or save a new file into the root of a library, where does it go on your HD?
You can define the default save location for each library. Just right click on the library, select properties, and choose the save location.
Quote:
* How aware are other programs of the library system? For example, if you are used to having two sets of items (say data files) in a library, they may be in very different locations on your HD. It seems to me this could make it hard for you to find them if you need to access them through a program that has no knowledge or access to libraries.
AFAIK, you can't/don't select a library as any type of save location. You still have to choose a directory, so there isn't any confusion for the applications.
Quote:
My personal experience tells me that libraries may lead to much confusion (and frustration) for some end-users who believe that files are in their library, but do not know the real location of such files. Sure, technical users such as ourselves get the idea easily enough, but many end-users are unlikely to read documentation, visit forums, or even Google such things. Such users may think that libraries are just another place to store stuff on their computers, and think nothing more of it. I just think of my poor grandmother or aunt who simply don't grasp many very fundamental computing concepts needed to use computers properly and efficiently. They understand just enough to get by, but no more. Ideally, this is how computers should be. Unfortunately, when the slightest thing goes wrong, they haven't the faintest idea where to even start.

Anyway, all this to say that I'm afraid making lots of files and folders *look* like they're all grouped together when they're really not at all is very risky business. Even if you educate users about libraries the first time they use them, people will forget. However, I suppose there's no way to make a system work for everyone, especially one with a global audience like Windows.
Just like any new technology, it will take time for people to understand and use libraries. I don't subscribe to the idea that a computer has to be the easiest thing to use - the user has to take the time to read about how the computer works. If you made an operating system that even the least computer savvy person could use, only the least computer savvy person would use it. It's too bad that more people don't look at the library window, see the question mark in the corner, and click on it. A nice explanation of how libraries work lurks just beneath the surface.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2009   #6
Antman

 

Ouizardus
Last Activity: 05-05-2009

I agree, It's too bad that more people don't look at the big picture.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2009   #7
mickey megabyte

ultimate 64 sp1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by kegobeer View Post
AFAIK, you can't/don't select a library as any type of save location. You still have to choose a directory, so there isn't any confusion for the applications.
good post, apart from this bit above - you can save into a library, but it will go into the place specified in the first part of your post.

i didn't grok libraries either at first, but i'm slowly learning how to use them more - jump-lists too...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2009   #8
kegobeer

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Thanks for the clarification, mickey. I haven't attempted to do any saving from applications, so I was going from memory. I use libraries all the time. I now hit the Win key and start typing what I want. Since I do a lot of downloading, I created a download library and assigned different folders to it. I hit the Win key, type "down", the download library appears, and I have access to every folder assigned to that library. Sweet.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2009   #9
dhar890723

Windows 7 Ultimate RTM
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ouizardus View Post
I'm very unclear on the purpose of "libraries" in Windows 7. It seems to me that the same structure could be duplicated in Windows 7 and earlier versions by simply creating a folder (as a "library") and putting the relevant shortcuts to other folders or files in that folder.

Given that, the whole library system just seems redundant, and it sometimes even gets in the way. Do libraries have any other purposes or advantages over shortcuts of which I am unaware? Thanks.
Using shortcuts would not be that similar; using symbolic links would. I like the concept of libraries, but I can't get them to work in a way that works well for me.

1. I've set up a custom set of columns for my Music folder, and I made it the default for Music folders in Folder Options/View. (It is "optimized" for Music.) However, my Music library refuses to respect my columns. It always displays Name, Contributing Artists, Album, #, and Title. I've tried "optimizing" the library for "General Items" and then back to "Music", but no joy; it goes back to the original set of columns instead of the ones I designated for Music.

2. I have folders <profile>/Books/Manuals/Guitar and <profile>/Guitar. I created a library "Guitar" and added these folders to it. They both appear in the library as "Guitar", which is less than useful. I want to rename them in the library (and only in the library), but this is not possible.

3. Choosing a different view (say, icons vs. details) for a library can affect other libraries. The views are not fully independent.

If I'm missing something here, please fill me in, because I'm about to give up on libraries.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2009   #10
kegobeer

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dhar890723 View Post
Using shortcuts would not be that similar; using symbolic links would. I like the concept of libraries, but I can't get them to work in a way that works well for me.

1. I've set up a custom set of columns for my Music folder, and I made it the default for Music folders in Folder Options/View. (It is "optimized" for Music.) However, my Music library refuses to respect my columns. It always displays Name, Contributing Artists, Album, #, and Title. I've tried "optimizing" the library for "General Items" and then back to "Music", but no joy; it goes back to the original set of columns instead of the ones I designated for Music.
AFAIK, libraries don't respect views of the folders that belong to the library.
Quote:
2. I have folders <profile>/Books/Manuals/Guitar and <profile>/Guitar. I created a library "Guitar" and added these folders to it. They both appear in the library as "Guitar", which is less than useful. I want to rename them in the library (and only in the library), but this is not possible.
I have several folders with the same name in a library, but since the entire path is dispayed, I am not confused by the names. If you want different folder names, give them different names.
Quote:
3. Choosing a different view (say, icons vs. details) for a library can affect other libraries. The views are not fully independent.
That hasn't happened to me. All of my libraries have different views. I can change the view of the Music library, and it does not affect any other libraries. It might have something to do with whatever version of Windows 7 you are using - if you enter your system specs, we'll know for sure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
Reply

 Difference between Libraries and Folders with Shortcuts




Thread Tools




Similar help and support threads
Thread Forum
Libraries - don't want any sub-folders
I have a new computer and would like to set it up as my previous computer was set-up. A computer tech set it up. Previously I could click on the documents library and all my documents would show up. Now I have sub-folders and I have to click through about 3 sub-folders to come to my documents. ...
General Discussion
difference between libaries and folders
Are folders within the four standard libraries also called libraries oder are they only called folders. When it says that I can create new libaries do they have to be on the same highest level as the four standard libraries or can there be sublibraries?
General Discussion
Want Folders Not Libraries
I've been running XP Pro for a while with no issues but bought a new desktop and laptop a couple of months ago and so ended up with 7. For the most part it is fine. But one thing is driving me crazy and I don't know it is possible to go back to older style organization or not. I had created a...
General Discussion
Start Menu (Libraries) Shortcuts?
So here's the deal. I like the Library feature of Win7, I really do. But recently I have finished completely reorganizing all my files to perfection; keeping them on a separate partition, I no longer have a need for libraries because each type of file is organized in one main folder (all documents...
General Discussion
Libraries and MY folders?
Hi in libraries there is say Pictures, > My Pictures, which duplicates the folders contents. In XP there used to be just My Pictures, etc, can I delete MY Pictures and just have the first library etc, ie click on Pictures > open pictures ? Or is there a reason behind this that being a novice I...
Music, Pictures & Video
Libraries and folders
The advent of libraries appears to be a major step forward with Windows 7. It seems a very smart idea. But I'm a bit confused about how libraries integrate with folders. I generally move my folders locations to a separate drive from the OS to keep all my data in a single easy to backup place,...
General Discussion


Our Sites

Site Links

About Us

Find Us

Windows 7 Forums is an independent web site and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation. "Windows 7" and related materials are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

Designer Media Ltd

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 13:24.
Twitter Facebook Google+ Seven Forums iOS App Seven Forums Android App