How to: Add network shares to a Windows 7 library

Windows 7 introduced the Library concept to make finding and managing files easier by logically grouping multiple locations together, thus saving time navigating and searching multiple folders. In theory that all sounds great but in practice it’s hindered by the simple fact it won’t let you include network locations in the library unless it’s on a Windows Home Server (Insert preferred derogatory M$ comment here). Notice i said won’t let you and not can’t.

Windows 7 Library

To add local folders to your Windows library its very simple, click the ‘Libraries’ folder from the taskbar or from Windows Explorer, open the Library of choice (default libraries include Documents, Pictures, Music and Videos) and click the locations hyper link (Includes: 1 location). You will see a screen showing the current library locations. Click ‘Add’ and navigate to the local folder you want to include, then click ‘Include folder’. That’s it, next time you open the library you will see the contents of both the original library and the new folder you specified.

If however you browse to a network location, lets say a NAS drive for example you will be informed ‘The network location can’t be included because it is not indexed’. Well if you ever needed proof Microsoft were feeding you lies this is it. It doesn’t matter if the network location is indexed or not.

The most effective way to combat this is by creating a symbolic link to the network folder.

1. Open the command line tool with administrator privileges. (Type ‘CMD’ into the start search, right click and select ‘Run as Administrator’)

(Warning this next step will delete your current ‘Music’ folder!, if you already have data in this folder skip this step and keep reading for an alternative option!)

2. Type the following

rd /S /Q "%userprofile%Music"

Then press ‘Enter’ (Warning – This will delete the current ‘Music’ library).

3. Type the following

mklink /d "%userprofile%Music" \192.168.0.3PeterMusic

Press ‘Enter’. This will create a symbolic link from the Music library to the network share of your choice, represented by the path following the double backslash. You can use the computer name instead of the IP address if you choose. For example: \COMPUTERPATHSHARE

Alternatively if you want to keep your existing local Music folder, you can create a symbolic link from a dummy folder on your local HDD, and then include this as an additional library location. Like so:

mklink /d "C:LibrariesMusic" \192.168.0.3PeterMusic

Then as before just navigate to Libraries > Music > Add Location > “C:LibrariesMusic” and click ‘Include folder’.

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One thought on “How to: Add network shares to a Windows 7 library

  1. Sadly, this little trick no longer works with Windows 8, and so far (Dec 1, 2012) no amount of Googling has turned up an answer, though there’s a lot more people asking why not and how do I…

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