Rediscovering Windows Libraries for Users and Admins

Rediscovering Windows Libraries for Users and Admins

One feature that I really take advantage of in Windows is Libraries.

These are folders like My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, and My Music that are available when we open the Windows File Explorer and give us locations to save the files we create and work with everyday.

These virtual folders can be configured to include folders on the local machine but also those on remote devices such as a networked file server or storage device like my Western Digital MyCloud.

Since they are virtual folders that means the other folders you mark for inclusion in that library remain in their original location and are simply accessed through the Library folder for convenience and to keep things organized.

Windows Libraries offers features for both users and admins.

User Features

- Aggregate content from multiple storage locations into a single, unified presentation.

- Enable users to stack and group library contents based on metadata.

- Enable fast, full-text searches across multiple storage locations, from Windows Explorer or from the Start menu.

- Support customized filter search suggestions, based on the types of files contained in the library.

- Enable users to create new libraries and specify which folders they want to include.

Administrator Features

- Create custom libraries by creating and deploying Library Description (*.library-ms) files.

- Hide or delete the default libraries. (The Library node itself cannot be hidden or deleted from the Windows Explorer navigation pane.)

- Specify a set of libraries available to Default User, and then deploy those libraries to users that derive from Default User.

- Specify locations to include in a library.

- Remove a default location from a library.

- Remove advanced libraries features, when the environment does not support the local caching of files, by using the Turn off Windows Libraries features that rely on indexed file data Group Policy. This makes all libraries basic (see Indexing Requirements and Basic Libraries), removes libraries from the scope of the Start menu search, and removes other features to avoid confusing users and consuming resources.

You can read more about these controls and features over on Microsoft TechNet in a recently updated article by Jason Gerend that not only talks about the features I mentioned above but also additional controls and understanding how library folders are handled for search indexing.

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