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Managing Digital Movies (part 1) - Managing Digital Movies with the Windows 7 Shell

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1/23/2014 1:13:18 AM

Like Windows Vista and Windows XP before it, Windows 7 includes a number of ways in which you can manage, view, and otherwise enjoy digital movies. You may recall that Windows XP included a special shell folder called My Videos. Actually, you will be forgiven for not remembering that—in Windows XP, the My Videos folder was curiously deprecated, unlike its My Documents, My Music, and My Pictures siblings. It didn't appear on the Start menu by default and couldn't be added later. In fact, My Videos didn't even appear in the Windows XP shell until you started up Windows Movie Maker for the first time.

In Windows Vista, the situation was only marginally different. In that release, the My Videos folder was replaced by the Videos folder, in keeping with Microsoft's Vista shell folder naming scheme. It was no longer a special shell folder, and it was not located in the file system inside of Documents as before. Instead, Videos sat under your Home folder (C:\Users\Your username by default) alongside Documents, Music, Pictures, and other commonly needed folders. But it still didn't appear on the right side of the Start menu for some reason, and once again there was no way to make it appear there.

1. My Videos: Managing Digital Movies with the Windows 7 Shell

In Windows 7, finally, the Videos shell location has become a first-class citizen alongside your other commonly accessed user folders, though Microsoft continues to confuse with its folder names. What this means is that you now have physical video folders (including your personal My Videos folder at C:\Users\Your username\My Videos, and Public Videos at C:\Users\Public\Videos), as well as a new Videos library—shown in Figure 1—which is a virtual folder that aggregates the content from other locations (My Videos and Public Videos, by default) into a single view. Of course, your Videos library can also be shared with others via Windows 7's new HomeGroup sharing scheme. While this evolution of the Videos folder may seem convoluted, it's actually quite a bit nicer in use than it used to be.

Figure 1. The Videos library aggregates content from My Videos, Public Videos, and, potentially, other locations, providing you with a single view into all of your video content.


You can access Videos in various ways. The quickest is to click on the Windows Explorer taskbar button; this opens a view of the Libraries location, which by default displays icons for four libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos, as shown in Figure 2.

You could also simply open the Start menu, select Search and type Videos, and then tap Enter.

NOTE

If you're familiar with the way that Windows 7 libraries work, you won't be surprised to discover that the Videos library aggregates content from two sources by default: your personal Videos folder (C:\Users\Your username\My Videos) and Public Videos (C:\Users\Public\Public Videos). Public Videos was called Shared Videos in Windows XP and was in a different location, but the Public Videos folder in Windows 7 works identically to that in Windows Vista.

Figure 2. The Libraries shell location provides a way to access all of your libraries, including Videos.

NOTE

The My Videos folder is the default save location for the Videos library, so when you copy content into Videos (the library), it is actually copied to My Videos (the folder).

There's also a Sample Videos subfolder in Public Videos that includes a short sample video provided by Microsoft. There is a shortcut to this folder in your Videos folder, but the actual folder is located in C:\Users\Public\Public Videos\Sample Videos by default.


NOTE

Because of the proliferation of digital cameras with video-taking capabilities, you could very likely also find videos scattered around inside of your My Pictures folder. When you copy pictures from a digital camera to Windows 7 (or to previous versions of Windows), any videos on the camera will be copied to the same location, which is typically a subfolder under My Pictures. You could easily use Windows 7's Library functionality to find and display these videos alongside the videos in My Videos and Public Videos. To do so, open the Videos library and click the link next to Includes (it will read 2 Library locations by default). In the Videos Library Locations window that appears, click Add, and then navigate to My Pictures. Click Include folder, and then OK. Unfortunately, when you do so, the Videos library shows you all of the subfolders under My Pictures, not just the ones with videos, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Look, ma! There are videos in the My Pictures folder.

With all these different locations for finding digital videos, you might wonder what Microsoft was thinking. Although we could never claim to offer any insight along those lines, we can tell you that video management, like that of music and photos, has changed dramatically between Windows XP, Vista, and 7. And though it's still possible to navigate around the Windows shell and double-click movies to play them in Windows Media Player or another software tool, Microsoft expects that most of its users will instead use dedicated applications to manage and view digital movies. That said, the new Videos library functionality is there for those who do wish to utilize the shell more heavily. In this way, we think Microsoft struck a nice balance and has provided solutions that virtually anyone will appreciate.

NOTE

There's an even quicker way to access Videos than those we've mentioned so far. If you're one of the many video enthusiasts who have been clamoring for Microsoft to make it possible to add a link to Videos from the Start menu, rejoice: You can now do so. To add this link to the Start menu, right-click the Start button and click Properties. Then, click the Customize button in the Start Menu tab. In the Customize Start Menu window that appears, scroll down to Videos and choose from "Display as a link," "Display as a menu," and "Don't display this item." (The latter is the default.) As shown in Figure 4, this link corresponds with the Videos library, not the My Videos folder.

Figure 4. You can now add the Videos folder—really the Videos library—to the Windows 7 Start menu!

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