Create a Windows 7 Library for Dropbox

Many Dropbox users quickly start to store all interesting files in their Dropbox folders, especially current files that are being used on more than one computer. The faster you can get to your Dropbox folders, the easier it is to use.

Here’s a tip about using Windows 7’s libraries for quicker access to your Dropbox folders – and perhaps it will give you some other ideas about how to use libraries.

Windows 7 Libraries

Windows 7 libraries are virtual collections of folders – a consolidated view that lets you browse folders in one place even when they are stored in different directories or on different computers. Your “Documents” library will include your own My Documents folder, but it can also contain other folders from elsewhere on your computer or around the network. Best reason to do that: here’s an article that explains how you can set up your Documents library at work to search your own files and the company files on the server in a single operation.

You can create a new Library with a few clicks and include whatever folders you like in it. Create one for your Dropbox folder:

  • Highlight Libraries in the left column, then click on New library on the toolbar at the top of the window (highlighted in the picture above).
  • Create a library named Dropbox, then right-click it and click on Properties / Include Folder.
  • Browse to your Dropbox folder – usually C:\Users\UserName\Dropbox – and add it to the new library.

You’ll see Dropbox listed alongside Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos whenever you open an Explorer window, and whenever you browse files in a well-written program. (Dropbox also adds itself to the list of Favorites that appears just above Libraries – another overlooked way to speed up browsing in Windows 7. Read this article about Explorer Favorites if you’re not using them. It’s a feature that was originally introduced in Vista that can be invaluable for navigating to frequently used folders.)

It’s so convenient to use the Dropbox library or the shortcut in Favorites to get to your Dropbox files in a hurry that you’ll become annoyed by poorly designed programs that don’t display Libraries and Favorites in Open/Save dialogs.

Think about whether there is some other group of folders that would make a useful library. Example: If you’re working on the Forbin project, say, you could create a Forbin Project library that contains all the folders with project documents, plus all the folders with Forbin Project pictures, regardless of where those folders are stored. Remember, the underlying folders don’t move; the library gives you a unified view of all of them in one place.

Worth noting: it’s possible to have Dropbox appear on your Start menu, too, using a kludgy but effective workaround described here.

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