Windows 8 RT – Engage Removable Storage

Posted on November 2, 2012


Further to my earlier blog on Windows 8 RT / Microsoft Surface ‘Windows 8 RT – iPad Killer?‘ herewith as promised a step guide to making the Windows 8 RT storage expansion options available in the default ‘Libraries’ view of the Windows Modern UI (Metro) apps.

This addresses a frustration that it was not possible to access storage areas outside the default libraries with the default Microsoft Windows Modern UI apps – Xbox Music, Xbox Video, and Photos. Particularly the MicroSD expansion slot.

What this does is use an old NTFS (New technology File System) feature (Junction Points) to register storage locations with the default Libraries, particularly the MicroSD card location.

You can download a PDF version of this guide for ease of reference from here: Windows 8 RT – Engage Attach Storage (683 KB PDF)

It is necessary to resort to the ‘Junction Point’ feature because you CANNOT create additional ‘Views’ or ‘Pointers’ to appear as shortcuts in the default system Libraries. Therefore it is necessary to firstly create a location on the local drive(s) that can be used as a form of ‘Proxy’ locale. This in effect fools the Libraries into thinking they are referencing a local file resource when in fact they are not. (Yes you can ask yourself WHY Microsoft cannot bridge this void automatically, I have, but with little clarification other than I believe it is not regarded as a priority, but then that was before Surface).

So how to do this?

Phase 1 – Create a local file resource that is acceptable to the default Libraries which acts as a ‘Junction Point’ to the ACTUAL removable file storage location.

  1. On your windows 8 RT device open up the desktop and the Windows ‘File’ Explorer:
    1. Note the default content of the Libraries, in Green
    2. Note the default state of the C: drive folders in Blue.

  2. Create a new folder on your C: drive. I have used the ‘xStorage’ naming convention to clearly ID that this folder is going to be used as a ‘Proxy’ for my external storage locations. You can use whatever name you like.

  3. Next I created a series of logical folders on my external MicroSD card. The card I have called ‘XSD32G’ yours may be called something different, (I like to use meaningful names for ease of reference) the folders follow the same naming convention to mirror the default Libraries in Green below, again for my own ease of reference. Again you can call them what you like as long as they make sense to you. As follows:

  4. Nest trigger the Admin menu by right clicking in the very bottom left corner of the desktop, you can also use a keyboard shortcut ‘Windows Key + X’, select the ‘Computer management’ link:

  5. This will bring up the ‘Computer Management’ window:
    1. Select the ‘Disk management’ option in the left hand window which will refresh the centre windows with a view of your storage devices.
    2. Right click on your Micro SD drive, (mine is illustrated here as D: labelled ‘XSD32G’) and from the menu select ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’

  6. This will open the ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’ dialogue box, this is likely to only have one entry listed, click the ‘Add’ button:

  7. This will open a ‘Browse for Drive Path dialogue box. Browse and select the folder you created under your C: partition (Step 2 above). In this example mine is xStorage. Then click OK:

  8. Your selection will be confirmed in the next dialogue box, similar to the image below, click OK and you will be returned to the default ‘Computer Management’ window.

  9. You should now be back to the default ‘Computer Management’ window. If you repeat steps 5 & 6 above you should now see in the ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’ dialogue box a new entry reflecting the choice you made in Step 7. Something along the following lines:

What we have just done is created a ‘Junction Point’ between a folder on your C: drive and the removable storage (in this case a MicroSD card, this also works with other external USB mass storage device(s) as well.

If you now expand out your Windows ‘File’ Explorer and the folder you created on your C: drive you will see this is now ‘Mirroring’ the content of your removable storage drive that you ‘Targeted’ in Step 8 above (highlighted in Green and Blue in the image below) when you compare it with its before state as in Step 2 above. Note that as yet the default Libraries still remain unaltered (highlighted in Orange in the image below).

Phase 2 – Include these new folders (highlighted in Green in the image above) and create ‘Views’ in the respective Libraries (highlighted in Orange above).

  1. Highlight one of the default Libraries by clicking on its ‘Headline’, I have chosen ‘Pictures’ in this example:
    1. From the menu click on ‘Manage’.
    2. From the ribbon bar click on ‘Manage Library, as illustrated below:

  2. This will reveal the ‘Pictures Library Locations’ window, click the ‘Add’ button:

  1. This will open the ‘Include folder in Pictures’ browse window, in which you should browse to the corresponding ‘Junction Point’ folder on your local file system, similar to the image below:

  1. If you see a dialogue box something like the one below, you have incorrectly chosen the removable storage location. Re-select the ‘Mirrored’ folder in the location you created in Step 2 above.

  1. Once you have selected the correct location you should see it appear in the list of registered Library Settings for that respective Library, similar to the image below:

  1. Repeat steps 10 through 14 with all the other Default libraries and you should now see your removable storage locations (highlighted in Green below) appear beneath each of the respective Libraries, something similar to the image below:

Remember these are no more than ‘Shortcuts’, albeit somewhat complex ones. As such they will persist until you delete them. Therefore IF your removable storage state changes (you remove the storage device or MicroSD) these will remain but are likely to cause a pause if clicked on as the system will be searching for a location that no longer exists. To remove these, simply right click on them and select ‘Remove Location from Library’.

You can of course avoid the finery of defining individual folders and target the root locations you created in Step 2 in each of the libraries. It is a flexible feature that I hope empowers you to a little more dexterity with your new Microsoft Surface and value extraction.

Have fun!