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How to Enable or Disable the Libraries Feature in Windows 7

If you just can’t get used to the new Libraries feature in Windows 7, you can easily disable it with a registry hack—though we’d recommend learning about the benefits instead of disabling it.

In case you aren’t sure what we’re talking about, this article covers how to remove the Libraries link from the navigation panel, and completely disable the shell extension so you can’t access them either.

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Before you take the next step to disabling them, be sure to read our guide to understanding the Libraries feature in Windows 7, as well as our guide to changing out the Library icons with custom icons instead.

Disabling Libraries in Windows 7

If you’re certain you want to disable them, here’s how to do it. Just download, extract, and double-click on the DisableLibrariesFeature.reg file to disable them.

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Close all open Explorer windows, or logoff, and then login again. At this point, the Libraries should be gone.

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Note: normally we’d show you the complicated registry hack to accomplish this, but in this case there’s a bunch of keys to deal with, and it’s a mess. You can check out the .reg files for the details if you really want to.

To re-enable the Libraries feature again, you can use the included EnableLibrariesFeature.reg file.

Download Disable Libraries Registry Hack

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/8/10

Comments (48)

  1. cavin

    i like Libraries feature.^_^

  2. 216

    Why would you wanna disable Libraries?! That’s one of the best features of Win7

  3. The Geek

    Couldn’t agree more, the Libraries are awesome! Still, we like to help cover everything.

  4. Mike Hagstrom

    Does this delete the libraries from being seeing in the “Save As” dialog in programs such as Word and Excel?

  5. The Geek

    Yeah, although you can change the default save location in the Excel or Word options panel.

  6. tapuz

    didn’t work for me, rebooted, killed explorer.
    i’m used to the regular windows, know where everything is, and don’t use the library at all.
    i would really appreciate this hack.

  7. Kele

    Never really understood libraries, personally. I already put all my music in the music folder, documents in a documents folder, etc.

  8. KB Prez

    I love the libraries too!

  9. at0mic

    I’m a library’s fan. I’ve moved everything to it and pinned it to my taskbar

  10. SquareWheel

    I’ve never been a fan of using built-in features for media management. I don’t know any geek that actually uses My Music or My Pictures to store their pictures. I have a media partition specifically for this sort of thing, so I don’t really see the need for libraries. I disable them whenever I reinstall Windows.

  11. tapuz

    anyway, what i meant above is, i couldn’t get it to work, ran it, and the computer is the same as allways, with the libraries still there.
    i have windows 7 64 bit, could that be the reason ?

  12. RHPT

    I couldn’t get this to work on x64 Win7 either. Odd.

  13. tapuz

    Okay here is how to do it, open a word file drag the remove hack into there (otherwise you will not have access to the hack).
    Next go to task manager and kill explorer.
    Run the hack from the word file, and restart explore.

  14. gggirlgeek

    THANK YOU! I can’t stand Libraries and don’t see the point at all. We have My Documents and we have shortcuts. Why do we need more shortcuts? Libraries takes over everything in your computer and crowds the open/save dialogues so it’s difficult to find the folder you really need.

    It is also behind 50% of the problems when a program won’t install or work properly (UAC being the other of course.) Many programs don’t know what to do with these type of “virtual links” and most people don’t know enough about it to provide the real path during installation. Microsoft opened a whole can a worms with that one.

    Also, if you make the mistake of opening Pictures in Media Center just once it will hunt your whole computer and add any images it finds to your library, including the internet cache and Windows program icons. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t tell it to include those folders. I got around it by deleting all the folders in the pictures Library except one tiny one with a single picture in it. It’s ridiculous that I have to do this.

    The only thing I like is that it is easier to switch My Documents/Videos/Pictures default locations to a new hard drive in Windows 7 and Vista. XP is incredibly stubborn about this and it takes a LOT of registry editing to force the new locations. I hope I don’t have to deal with this when I turn off Libraries with this tweak. I will report back with my results.

  15. gggirlgeek

    Hey folks, remember to do an ERUNT backup before applying this!

    If you don’t know what ERUNT is you need to. Here is the link http://www.larshederer.homepage.t-online.de/erunt/ Yes it’s free.

  16. gggirlgeek

    Oh HAPPY DAY! It works great with Win7 32 bit. No Word file trick needed. And My Documents/Videos/Pictures/Music is still intact on my second hard drive. The links in the Start Menu still work fine too.

    Thanks tapuz for the tip for 64 bit users.

    Remember to use RUN THIS PROGRAM AS AN ADMINISTRATOR option under the right click menu if you have problems.

  17. gggirlgeek

    Just in case anyone needs it, Media Center still puts its Libraries in C:\Users\Public\Libraries.

    That’s where you’ll find, for example, your Recorded TV library (which should still be linked to all of your TV and Video folders that you set up in Media Center.)

    So in essence you can still use Libraries through this folder without them getting in your face every time you open Explorer.

  18. gggirlgeek

    To change the default folder that Explorer goes to when you open it, right click your Windows Explorer shortcut in the Start Menu (under Accessories.) Select Properties and in Target type
    %windir%\explorer.exe /n, /e, C:\My Folder\
    replacing the path of your preferred folder of course.

  19. JanR

    With all due respect, but why on earth would anyone like to disable the libraries feature? It’s certainly one of the best features of Windows 7.

  20. RHPT

    I’ve tried to do this every which way, including deleting the registry keys manually, but the libraries still show up. So, I’m not sure what’s going on. Win7 x64.

  21. tapuz

    see my above post, worked for me.

  22. cpx

    Libraries are awesome if you have some brain to make it work properly. People, stop bitchhing about new cool features and just try to use them before saying anything about it!

  23. ANM

    I feel like I am missing something with the libraries. The idea is to be able to access stuff from many different locations in one place, right? Haven’t you been able to do that with windows for AT LEAST the last 10 years? Probably more like 15 years? All you have to do is place a shortcut wherever you want it. You could make 100 shortcuts to the same file and put them in 100 different places. Or, you could have one giant folder on your desktop and put everything there. Your choice. How is this an improvement?

  24. GOK

    The only reason to have these silly libraries is for those who cannot keep up with their own data. I have to disagree with CPX here. It seems to me that those who need them are the ones who must be struggling with the basic funtionality of Windows since it was first invented. Those of us who have learned how to create neat, funtional directory structures need no such help. So why would Microsoft force all of its users to deal with something as cumbersome as this when it is only needed for by a few people who cannot keep track of their files? Sounds like a Rube Goldberg solution to me.

  25. Polm

    I NEVER liked the pre-cooked windows folders my docs, my pictures, my videos, my music, etc.
    The reason is very simple. I organize my docs as logical collections in folders. My projects contains bunches (1000nds) of docs type *.xyz

    The windows approach is like I have 10 projects: my docs, my pictures, my videos, my music ! ^_^

    Imagine the contrary: pouring all my projects in one of the 10 windows precooked folders – > horrifying…

    cyPolm1 @ dummy.yahoo.ar

    I NEVER liked the pre-cooked windows folders my docs, my pictures, my videos, my music, etc.
    The reason is very simple. I organize my docs as logical collections in folders. My projects contains bunches of docs type *.xyz

    The windows approach is like I have 10 projects: my docs, my pictures, my videos, my music ! ^_^

    Imagine the contrary: pouring all my projects in one of the 10 windows precooked folders – > horrifying…

    cy

  26. Rita

    This registry edit disabled all libraries except the Recorded TV library in Windows Media Player. How do I disable this one?

  27. Adrian

    This is waht i find stupid about the libraries feature that i don’t think most people have come to realize. I’m having this exact problem where I encode at different bit rates, one that’s non-compressed wav files for archival purposes and the other bit rate is for my zune player. When i tell the Zune sofware to point to my folder for my Zune in the zune folder, WMP12 changes it’s music folder to that folder, when I initially wanted to point WMP12 to the wav folder. Libraries just screws this up completely. Did Microsoft intend for this CF to happen? Someone help.

  28. Garrett

    I agree with those who gave a thumbs down to the new libraries feature that MS has forced on us.

    I store thousands of files and keep them in my own logically organized folder/directory structure so that I can find them when I need them and I know where to put them so I can find them. I keep everything in one main folder and then subfolders off of the root of the D: drive and use shortcuts for the folders I use often. I keep the shortcuts in a couple of folders on the desktop. And, my desktop is only cluttered with 7 shortcuts/icons down the left-hand side (including My Computer and the Recycling Bin).

    I see the libraries structure as another MS feature intended to appeal to those who can’t organize and maintain a coherent folder structure and who only have a limited number of files of file types.

    If you are a professional of any type and use your computer for your work, the libraries functionality is just one big annoyance.

  29. Steve

    User folders as in XP are available.

    If you open the “username” item on the Start menu, it opens all your user folders the same way as on XP – so there is no reason, it seems, to disable the Library feature.

    Just remove the whatever folders from the library that you do not want there, and use the Libraries for special organization purposes.

    The “guide to understanding the Libraries feature in Windows 7″ link in the above article shows how to remove or add folders to each Library.

    The Library feature does not seem to useful to me, but others appear to like it.

  30. john

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Windows XP had a superb files and folders management system which always did exactly what the user wanted. You could move things from one location to another, retrieve files easily – it was perfect. Nowadays I tend to put everything on the desktop first, especially downloaded pictures, because otherwise the probability is that I will have to spend time tracking down exactly where MS in its wisdom has hidden them away. Complicated, unnecessary and incompetent.

  31. dogmatooth

    Different strokes for different folks. Some think libraries are good, some bad.
    I, as a matter of choice, would like to how to disable it, not be lectured on why I shouldn’t want to (If I wanted to be patronised, I’d stay on Microsoft Answers Forums).
    Is the only way to disable Libraries, in Win7 64-bit pro, to use the MS Word route suggested by tapuz?

  32. Piers

    Why will they not let us have a power users version of windows, with all of the baby sitting hand holding cack removed.

    An option for a single user machine would also be good!

  33. Fred

    I hate libraries. It doesn’t allow me to put things where I want them and organize how I want. It hides drives and subfolders from me. It automatically does things that I don’t want.

  34. Nick

    Piers – couldn’t agree more (Microsoft Geek – “you’re on your own”)
    Microsoft – carry on the excellent work and design different ways for different people to do things – but let the individual decide which bits they want
    I want a single user (system administrator), no automated backup & restore, no background database features, no preindexed / searching / what you did last time / where you went last time features.
    Suspiciously like 98R but with the better drivers functionality

  35. Nick

    Sorry – should have remembered
    Many thanks How To Geek for good advice even when it’s not what you’d choose to do yourself
    PS. don’t suppose there’s a safe way of removing the favourites shortcut in Windows Explorer

  36. Stan

    Another Libraries hater here too.

    I’ve always used my own directory structure and never used the My Docs feature in XP or the Libraries in Vista or 7.

    I have a folder called “C:\My Data” that I would like to be my default for everything. I’ve changed all my apps that allow me to change the default location but I would love to get rid of Libraries.

    Actually the only place I really an issue is in Outlook. When trying to save attachments, I haven’t figured out how to change the default “Save As” or “Open” location from Libraries. If anyone can point me in the right direction?

    The registry hack from Tapuz for Win 7 64bit didn’t work for me.

    Running Windows 7 Professional 64bit with SP1, Word 2010 v14.0.5128.5000 (32bit)

    Thanks.

    Stan.

  37. Stan

    Just an addendum.

    made a backup of my registry, went in and manually deleted the Registry keys and added the 1 and then rebooted.

    My Libraries are now gone.

    Right keys to delete and add but double clicking the file, even as Run As Adminsitrator, didn’t work.for me.

    Stan.

  38. rick

    LIBRARIES SUCKED ! THANK YOU SO MUCH ! I DETESTED THEM ! As someone who is by no means a geek but has been using computers since the trs-80, my documents, my pictures, etc. were just fine and DID NOT NEED ANOTHER LEVEL OF CRAP TO CONFUSE ME !

  39. Jenni

    Thanks for the library removal info. Does this mean that I will be able to SEE my desktop when I want to save email attachments? Yes, I am good at filing to my own folders all by myself !

  40. ajju

    thansk a lot ..it worked for me ,i m from dell .. i made my cx happy today .. just because of this fix ..

  41. raju

    THANKS BUDDY U SAVE MY LIFE .. GOT STUCK ON A CALL .. GOT FIXED BY THIS ISSUE …CUSTOMER SAT

  42. ChrisRox

    I didn’t understand the “Word” trick, so I just came up with this instead for Win 7 64 bit.

    1. Save the DisableLibariesFeature.reg file somewhere so you know where it is. i.e. Desktop.

    2. Run regedit.exe (use search to find it). And when the window comes up, just leave it alone for now.

    3. Open Task Manager (right click on the taskbar and choose “Start Task Manager”), go to the processes tab in Task Manager, find explorer.exe in the list of processes, highlight it, then click the “end process” button at the bottom right of Task Manager. Leave the Task Manager window open, because we’ll come back to it in a minute.

    4. Click on your regedit window (which should still be up) and choose File | Import from the menu, then browse to and select the DisableLibariesFeature.reg file you saved earlier. This will merge the changes in and tell you that it’s done so.

    5. Close the regedit window, and never open it again, unless you’re me, or the How-To Geek.

    6. Back in Task Manager, choose the Applications tab, and then click the “New Task” button at the bottom right. An input box will come up, just type in “explorer” (without the quotes) and hit enter.

    7. Done. Close the Task Manager window and enjoy life without Libraries!

    8. Profit.

  43. Ernie

    I dislike Libraries. Whatever file I save goes in Pictures instead of where I directed it.

  44. Xunkar

    Nice hack, thank you.
    But it would be great if the hack could also remove the “Add to Library” link in the explorer’s toolbar if anyone knows how to do that.

  45. Paul Maconochie

    Thank you for the script. It worked fine for me on Windows 7 64 bit.

    Like many of the previous commentators, I found the concept of libraries got in the way of my well ordered project structured directories, especially as I use a RAID 5 NAS for my project files. But then (OT) I find a lot of stuff in Office 2010 a triumph of form over function that gets in the way of my doing work with the programs

    Thanks again, Paul

  46. pitstop1972

    …my windows 7 experience is now so much more pleasant without the distraction of those libraries!!!..

    …thank you thank you THANK YOU!!!…

  47. compwrench

    I don’t mind the Library. I just want to stop the default from reappearing and use my own on another drive.

  48. compwrench

    Libraries still shows when you save a .doc file

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