UPDATE: This tool has been updated and now works on Windows 8, however from my limited testing, the new metro interface has extremely limited support for libraries. Unfortunately using this tool I couldn’t find a way for photos added from a network drive to appear in the ‘photos’ metro app even though they appear in the library in
Windows File Explorer. Windows 8 is astonishingly bad.
Windows libraries (introduced in Windows 7) could have been a really useful feature of Windows, however unfortunately they arrived in a slighly cut-down form out of the box. Microsoft decided against exposing some really useful capabilities to users, like adding network locations, pretty much the first thing I tried to do. You get this message:
Luckily, you can add network locations (and any other un-indexed locations), but it must be done programatically. MS supply a command line utility slutil.exe, candidate for the worst named executable in history. Pretty sure it stands for shell_library_util. Anyway, I decided to write a tool to make it easy to add network locations, and added a few other features as well:
- Add network (UNC or mapped drive) and any other un-indexed folders to libraries.
- Backup library configuration, such that a saved set of libraries can be instantly restored at any point (like after a re-install of the OS or for transfer between multiple computers).
- Create a mirror of all libraries (using symbolic links) in [SystemDrive]:\libraries. This means you can reference all your files using a much shorter path, and also provides another entry-point to your files in many places in the Operating System (e.g. file open/save dialogs).
- Change a library’s icon.
Hopefully it’s easy enough to use, so I don’t have to explain it
You can download it for free below. (Note: This will only run on >= Windows 7.)
I must give credit to Josh Smith for his TreeView CodeProject article, upon which this solution is modelled.
The application uses the Microsoft API CodePack to manipulate libraries, which I encourage you to check out if you are writing software to integrate / take advantage of new features in Windows 7.
If you want to learn why and how libraries were introduced in Windows 7, including diving into the .library-ms file format, you can read this MSDN article.
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