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Exactly What Are Folders and Libraries in Windows 8?

Figuring out what folders and libraries are and what Windows 8 calls items on your desktop can be dreadfully boring, but if you don’t read it, you’ll be just as lost as your files.

A folder is a storage area on a drive, just like a real folder in a file cabinet. Windows 8 divides your computer’s hard drives into many folders to separate your many projects. For example, you store all your music in your My Music folder and your pictures in your My Pictures folder. That lets both you and your programs find them easily.

A library, by contrast, is a super folder, if you will. Instead of showing the contents of a single folder, it shows the contents of several folders. For example, your Music library shows the tunes living in your My Music folder, as well as the tunes in your Public Music folder. (The Public Music folder contains music available to everyone who uses your PC.)

Windows 8 gives you four libraries for storing your files and folders. For easy access, they live in the Navigation Pane along the left side of every folder. The following figure shows your libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos.

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Keep these folder facts in mind when shuffling files in Windows 8:

  • You can ignore folders and dump all your files onto the Windows 8 desktop. But that’s like tossing everything into your car’s back seat and pawing around to find your sunglasses a month later. Organized stuff is much easier to find.

  • File Explorer folders use a tree metaphor as they branch out from one main folder (a disk drive) that contains folders which contain even more folders.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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