What is the Games Folder & How to Use It?
The Games folder is a Windows 7 feature that few people are aware of, let alone understand its complete functionality. This article will try to demystify it and explain in detail what it is, how it works and how it can be customized.
What is the Games Folder/Panel?
Games is a special type of folder that has its own custom view in Windows. When you launch it, it looks similar to the Control Panel, just that it is made for managing your games.
This folder tries to act as your central repository for games in Windows 7. All the Windows games are found there as well as most of the third-party games you install. However, not all games you install might be found there as they might not be integrated with this feature of Windows. Luckily you can add games to this panel, even if they don't install a shortcut in this folder.
The Games folder can be used to launch games, get information about them, view statistics, download art and information about your games, view when a game was last played, etc.
All this will be explained in more detail in later sections.
How to Find the Games Folder?
The Games folder is a special folder in Windows. If you browse with Windows Explorer, you can find it at "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Games".
By default, you should find its shortcut on the right-side of the Start Menu.
NOTE: If it isn't there, you need to enable its shortcut on the Start Menu. This guide will show how to enable or disable new shortcuts: The Complete Guide to the Windows 7 Start Menu. If you are using Windows 7 Professional, there is a high chance that the Games feature is turned off. You can enable it from Add or remove programs - > Turn Windows Features on or off. There you check Games and the standard Windows 7 games and the Games folder are made available.
Customisation Menus and Options
You can customize what kind of information is displayed and how, using the toolbar at the top of the Games window.
The Organize button has the same options as in Windows Explorer. For more information about the options found there, check this tutorial: How to Improve Windows Explorer Using Folder Options.
The Options button opens the Set up game updates and options window. This is where you control what information is being displayed. Personally, I prefer to enable the checkboxes for "Download art and information about installed games" and "Collect most recently played game information". They definitely make the Games folder more useful to me.
The Tools menu gives quick access to other panels that are related to your gaming experience: Hardware, Display, Input and Audio Devices, the Windows Firewall and Programs and Features.
Then, the Parental Controls button launches Parental Controls. A complete guide about this feature can be found here: All You Need to Know About Parental Controls in Windows 7.
On the top right there is the Change view button which allows you to change how information is displayed in the Games folder. I always prefer to use the Large Icons button. I find that it looks better than other views.
Lastly, you have a button for enabling/disabling the Preview pane and for launching the Windows Help.
The Information Displayed about the Games Folder
The amount of information displayed for a game depends a lot on how well it was integrated with this feature of Windows. In this tutorial, I will show the ideal scenario where all possible information is displayed.
When you click on a game, on the right, in the Preview pane you see its icon, its name and three tabs: Ratings, Performance and Statistics.
The Ratings tab shows the rating of the game.
The Performance tab shows your system's experience index, the rating required to run the game and the rating recommended for optimal performance.
The Statistics tab shows information about your performance in the selected game.
On the bottom of the Games window, there is further information displayed: the Publisher & Developer, when the game was Last played, what Product version it has and the games' Genre.
I would to reinforce one more time that, the amount of information displayed for a game, depends a lot on whether it was well integrated with this feature of Windows 7 or not. For some games you will be able to view a lot less information that was shown in this article.
As you can see, the Games folder displays lots of useful information. Personally, I use it as my repository for all the games I play. I really don't like having shortcuts on my desktop and the Games folder is the perfect way to keep my games organized. The only downside about it is that it requires games to be integrated with this feature. Otherwise you need to manually add shortcuts to games, in the em>Games folder. If you have any questions on this Windows feature, don't hesitate to ask via the comments form.