How to replace SkyDrive with Libraries in Windows 8.1

Learn how to move SkyDrive and reinstate Libraries as the primary location for accessing documents and pictures in Windows 8.1.


If you sign in to Windows 8.1 with a Microsoft Account, you discovered that Windows 8.1 has moved Libraries to the sideline in favor of SkyDrive. I suppose this is probably a great thing for all the folks who hated Libraries from day one, but what about those of us who have come to depend on the Libraries feature? Plus, a lot of Windows 8.1 users have been encountering difficulties with SkyDrive.

I'll describe two ways to move SkyDrive to the sideline and reinstate Libraries as the predominant location for accessing your documents and pictures.

Put Libraries back in File Explorer

When you open File Explorer in Windows 8.1, you see that SkyDrive appears in the Navigation pane right where Libraries used to be (Figure A). You'll also notice this in the Save As dialog boxes for the majority of your Windows applications.

Figure A


SkyDrive has replaced Libraries in File Explorer. (Click the image to enlarge.)

You can still get to your standard folders (Documents, Pictures, Videos, and Music) via the newly renamed This PC (Figure B), but it's important to emphasize that these are just standard folders and not Libraries.

Figure B


You can still access the standard folders via This PC. (Click the image to enlarge.)

To add Libraries back to the Navigation pane in File Explorer, go to the View tab, click the Options icon, and select the Change folders and search options command. When you see the Folder Options dialog box, select the Show Libraries check box in the Navigation Pane section (Figure C).

Figure C


You can replace Libraries from the Folder Options dialog box. (Click the image to enlarge.)

When you click OK and return to File Explorer, you'll see that Libraries are back in the Navigation Pane (Figure D). Now you can access and use Libraries and SkyDrive.

Figure D


You can now access and use Libraries and SkyDrive. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Remove SkyDrive from File Explorer

If simply adding Libraries back to File Explorer is not enough for you, you can choose to remove SkyDrive from the Navigation Pane with a registry hack. (Warning: Hacking the registry file could render the system inoperable. Please make a backup of the registry file before you make any edits or tweaks.)

To launch the Registry Editor in Windows 8.1, press [Windows]+Q to access the Apps Search Settings page. Then, type Regedit in the text box and click Regedit.exe. If you prefer, you can use [Windows]+R to bring up the Run dialog box. Then, type Regedit in the Open text box and click OK. Either way, you'll see a User Account Control dialog box, and you'll need to click the Yes button. You should see the Registry Editor.

Once the Registry Editor is up and running, navigate to the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\ {8E74D236-7F35-4720-B138-1FED0B85EA75}\ShellFolder. Then, right-click the ShellFolder icon and select Permissions from the context menu. When you see the Permissions dialog box, click the Advanced button. This procedure is shown in Figure E.

Figure E


Once you access the ShellFolder key, you have to change the Permissions. (Click the image to enlarge.)

When you see the Advanced Security Settings dialog box, locate the Owner control at the top and click Change. When you see the Select User dialog box, type administrators in the Object Name text area and click Check Names. After you see the full object name appear, click OK. This procedure is illustrated in Figure F.

Figure F


You'll use the Owner control to give your Administrators group permission to change the registry. (Click the image to enlarge.)

When you return to the Advanced Security Settings dialog box, select both the Replace Owner On Subcontainers And Objects and the Replace All Child Object Permissions With Inheritable Permissions From This Object check boxes and click OK. When you're prompted to confirm the operation, click Yes. This procedure is illustrated in Figure G.

Figure G


You will be prompted to confirm the change in permissions. (Click the image to enlarge.)

When you return to the Permissions dialog box, select Administrators in the Group Or User Names panel, select the Full Control check box in the Permissions For Administrators panel (Figure H), and then click OK.

Figure H


To complete the permissions change, select the Full Control check box. (Click the image to enlarge.)

When you return to the Registry Editor, double-click the Attributes subkey in ShellFolder key and set its Value Data to 0 (Figure I), and then click OK.

Figure I


Finally, you can make the change to the registry. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Now close the Registry Editor and restart your computer. When you open File Explorer, SkyDrive will no longer appear in the Navigation pane (Figure J).

Figure J


SkyDrive will no longer appear in File Explorer's Navigation pane. (Click the image to enlarge.)

What's your take?

Have you wanted to remove SkyDrive from File Explorer and reinstate Libraries? If so, which approach presented in this article will you try? Let us know in the discussion, or just share other tips about this topic with the TechRepublic community.

By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.