I was looking at some screen caps in a utility from Sergey Tkachenko over at WinAero.com (for a nice little utility called This PC Tweaker) when I suddenly realized that the Libraries icon and listing had gone missing. After scratching my head a bit, a quick google search turned up a PC World article from Rick Broida that reminded me that MS had inexplicably turned off this display when they released the 8.1 update. Turns out I’ve been selectively restoring this on some, but not all of my PCs, and I just happened to be working on that hadn’t yet gotten this interface tweak.
If you’re in the same boat, here’s how to turn the Libraries back on in your Windows 8.1 installation, too:
1. Inside File Explorer, click the View tab.
2. Click the Navigation Pane, then make sure the check next to Libraries is selected (it’s turned off in the following screen cap, so you’d click it to turn it back on).
A single click turns libraries back on in File Explorer, once you get to the right control.
Though it’s a mystery as to why MS decided to turn Libraries off by default, at least it’s relatively easy to turn them back on. Go figure!