Like most folks, I have a good number of USB devices. External hard drives for backup and to store files, flash drives for pictures and presentations – it goes on. Windows is great at recognizing the drive when it is plugged in and it assigns the next available drive letter. Windows remembers that letter and uses it the next time – if it is available. Sometimes things are plugged in already. When you plug a drive in the letter it used the last time might be already in use. No problem for Windows – it just finds the next free drive letter and off we go.
Well, that can cause all kinds of annoyances. The backup program won’t recognize the drive if the letter has changed. Ditto for Windows Live Photo Gallery, Word in its Recent List, etc. and on. I used to unplug some devices and try to connect them in different order. Sometimes this worked, most of the time it didn’t.
When a drive is labeled as G: and the previous time it was F: it is a problem. So how do you change the drive letter to what you want? Or, better yet, how do you assign each device a letter different from all the others?
Use Computer Management to reassign the drive letter for a device to whatever you want (within limits). Windows will use this letter the next time the drive is connected.
Click Start and type computer management – actually I usually just type manage.
Computer Management will show up at or near the top of the Start menu. Click it. Give UAC permission to continue.
In the Computer Management window look in the navigation pane on the left and find – under Storage – Disk Management. Click it. The drives will be listed in the center pane with nice graphics depicting each drive.
Right-click the graphic of the drive whose letter you want to change. In the drop-down menu click
Change Drive Letter and Paths…
In the next dialog (shown above) click Change…
In the Change Drive Letter… dialog click on the down arrowhead next to the drive letter and select the letter you want in the dropdown menu. Only available letters will be shown.
One final warning that changing the letter might affect programs – click Yes – you do want to make the change. After all, affecting the programs is why you want to do it in the first place.
I have started to name my drives with the desired drive letter right in the name. Like PHOTOS-N and PHOTOS-P. This way I can remember what the drive letter should be, next time Windows forgets – because I messed up somehow.
Assigning drive letters this way has been a real help. Now I can concentrate on what I am doing and don’t need to worry – Windows Live Photo Gallery finds my pictures, when I click on a Word recent list entry the document opens because Word finds it.
It even gives me time to write blogs!