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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Create your own libraries

Windows 7 introduced quite a few new features and one of the most interesting is libraries. A library is a special kind of Explorer view. In XP and Vista we had a private (My) Documents folder that only we could access and a Public or Shared Documents folder that anyone could access. There were also private and public/shared Music and Pictures folders. Windows 7 has all these folders too, but when you click Start, Documents in Windows 7, an Explorer window opens and displays the Documents library instead of the Documents folder. The difference is that you see not just the files in your private Documents folder, but also the Public Documents folder. It is a combined listing of the contents of both folders. The same is true of the Music, Pictures and Videos libraries and in each case what you see is the contents of your private Music, Pictures and Videos folders plus the public ones too. This is really quite clever and very useful, but even better is that you can add extra libraries and create your own.

Add the Videos library

Click the Start button in Windows 7 and you'll see the Documents, Pictures and Music libraries are all on the Start menu, but where is the link for the Video library? To add it, right click the Start button and select Properties. Click the Customize button in the dialog and scroll down to the bottom. Under videos, select Display as a link.

Build your own library

You can create your own library to display the files in any folders you choose. You could create a library for work documents, for example. Click Start, Documents and then select Libraries in the left pane. Right click in the empty space on the right and select New, Library. Give it a name and then select it in the left pane. It says the library is empty, but there's a button that enables you to select folders to include. Click it and then add a folder to your library.

The button disappears after the first folder is added, but then there's a link under the library title near the top of the window that says 1 Location. Click it and a dialog opens that enables you to add more folders.

Windows 7 libraries

Remove a library

After testing this new feature, you might have a few libraries that you don't really need. To delete a library, open an Explorer window, right click it in the left-hand pane and select Delete. Don't worry about the files or folders because deleting a library does not delete any files and they are still in their respective folders. A library is an Explorer view and you're simply deleting the view. If you delete Documents, Pictures or Music by mistake, right click Libraries and select Restore default libraries.

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