Windows 7 Libraries and Network Folders

Rob Williams

Staff member
Have you ever tried to add a network folder to a Windows Vista or 7 library, but couldn't properly map it? Or even worse, have Windows completely ignore its files via the built-in indexer? Well, there <em>are</em> fixes, and all are counter-intuitive. Until Microsoft "fixes" this issue, we'll explain how to work around the issue.

You can read Jamie's latest TG Tip and then discuss it here!

Brett Thomas

Senior Editor
You know, you would THINK that after years of Linux and NFS making running a network so easy, that Microsoft MIGHT just figure out how to get its act in order for it.

We use win 7 in the office now, and I do love it as a business OS...but the way it handles network folders always has bothered me. Fortunately, we actually get a little bit of a benefit from using Offline Sync, but indexing is a HUGE feature to finally have and MS really made things silly.

Thanks for the tip, Jamie, I think I might implement this on things I don't want going through the sync process.


Senior Editor
Staff member
I am always fearful of Sync operations, deleting or corrupting something and having it propagate through the chain. My backup chain is usually out of date, but the important stuff i tend to do manually to make sure it's safe. I have duplicates and triplicates across my hard drives and network storage, all in different filing structures since it's an archive that's been built up over several years, some of it from when i had no filing system at all. I've slowly been going through, standardising the structure, but always end up with additional categories for various things and the 'Misc' folder becomes a dumping ground.

The libraries actually helped, since it provided a quick way to view it all at once instead of having multiple explorer windows open, but the lack of network support was just seriously disappointing. Hence what forced me to look for a workaround.

The one feature that's missing now is something that every OS has, even previous Windows, something that Microsoft thought to remove for some bizarre reason.... directory size in status bar..... why oh why that was removed is beyond comprehension. Even a quick Ctrl + A to select all doesn't show the total folder size, but partial selections do... i guess they threw convenience out when they introduced user-friendly. Why would you need to see a directory's size... very simple, to compare to seemingly identical directories and see if they match, as well as tracking down misbehaving applications that like to create 20GB log files... (firewalls, SQL.... you know who you are).

The purpose of Microsoft's constant Explorer blunders is just saddening to think about, the split panel view of Win 3.11 was better than anything they've come up with since. Though feature lacking, it worked. Now they are forcing 3rd parties to create file managers that actually work in a productive fashion. It's a shame most cost a fair amount or are so over-the-top, like Total Commander. I wouldn't mind being more proactive with finding an alternative, but the volume of shareware and adware alternatives is very off-putting. A file manager is this last thing i want to 'practice' with and have it screw something up.


Tech Monkey
Meh, I haven't really had any problems with win 7 and sharing except when WL Sign in assistant gets installed then it kills my streaming to my orig Xbox.

BTW the tip posted seems like a solution to a backwards problem.... If its an external drive on another PC why not have that PC share it? If it was a NAS wouldn't it show up it your network locations so I don't really get the problem. And, couldn't you just add a shortcut to the folder you want?
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Senior Editor
Staff member
The problem is with the Library feature, if you have a NAS or File server, and you want to place a network folder within a library, it will not work. Sharing a folder and making it available on the network is easy enough, but if you want to make that network drive or folder available within a library, you can't, unless you use the fix stated.

Libraries are a little different from normal folders. They do not contain data, they act like a aggrogate, it provides quick access to various scattered files and folders. For example...

If you had a large collection of music or movies, it's too big to store on a single storage volume like a hard drive, you have it spilt across different locations. These could include a File Server, a NAS box and multiple Hard drives connected to your local PC, internal and external. Now, you would have to access each drive and network storage separately to manage them. So you would have;
C:\ Music

That's 4 locations to manage. What the library does is pull them all together to a single location - Libraries\Music. However, if you try and add the \\server1\media\music directory, you would get an error like the following:

That's where the solution posted comes in. It's a matter of convenience really, keeping separate folders and drives of various locations, all neatly combined together. Libraries also provide quick save access within applications, since it has its own listing.

Another way to look at a Library is like an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird. You have multiple email accounts you need to manage, 3 or 4 yahoo/ymail, a couple MSN, AIM, maybe your own mail server. You use the client to organise all the different accounts, so you don't need to log into multiple websites, log in as another user, etc. The client provides a single access point to all of them.

From a more productive point of view, working in an office, you're working on a new project, some of the data is kept on a public server, some on private servers, some of it on your local machine. You have your Word templates on a public server, some Excel statistics on a private server, another public folder for presentations to store Powerpoint files, maybe an image repository, another private for meeting minutes, PDF's, Audits, whatever, they are all over different networks in a very complex business.... or just a poorly managed one. If they didn't have a DMS (Data/Document Management System), or the DMS was down, you would have to go through the maze of directories to get to everything. A library could be used on a per project basis to provide a single location for files and folders involved. It would be cumbersome, but it could be done.

A shortcut just links you to another directory, and a single directory at that. A library is like a shortcut to multiple directories and files simultaneously.
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it aint working...

first I got:

C:\Windows\system32>mklink /d \\MYBOOKWORLD\Public\My WD_Backup tx2500\Memeo\My
WD_Backup tx2500\D_\My Pictures D:\NETSHARE\My Pictures
The syntax of the command is incorrect.

maybe map it??

C:\Windows\system32>MKLINK /D D:\NETSHARE\My Pictures P:\My Pictures
The syntax of the command is incorrect.

on a search someone said spaces in the folder name couldnt be there.
i renamed both.

C:\Windows\system32>mklink /d P:\MyPictures D:\NETSHARE\MyPictures
The system cannot find the path specified.

so this is where i am at. windows 64x home edition. tried making & deleting the folder a few times


Senior Editor
Staff member
When typing in path names with spaces in the directory name, you can use quotation marks ( "D:\NETSHARE\My Pictures" ) to prevent this kind of problem.

On an aside, I too have been having difficulty in getting this workaround to work again since the article was published - possibly due to a windows update at some point. The existing link still works, but new ones do not, so I'm in the process of trying to recreate the steps.

I'll update here as I find out.


Senior Editor
Staff member
Ok, a tool that'll help map a network share to a Library - called Win7 Library Tool - available here...

My only complaint is that it needs to be installed, but it's functional. Load it up, add existing libraries if you want (first icon). Create new library, add a directory, be it on a server or elsewhere, then set one of the directories as the save location, close, apply, done.

If you want to search the library, or even file contents, you can enable a forced search option within the search folder options under...

Windows Explorer -> Tools - > Folder Options...: Search Tab - Always search file names and contents

This had to be done since the 'File Contents' option under search was not available under a library.