Chapter 2. Windows Explorer

In designing Windows Explorer, Microsoft tried to strike a balance between useful and simple, and the result is a program that is often neither.

Explorer has a tendency to hide useful information, such as filename extensions and folder sizes, while cluttering windows with pointless links and unnecessary wizards. Sure, you can fix some of these shortcomings by changing settings in dozens of different dialog boxes, but most problems must be resolved with the help of add-on programs or obscure Registry hacks.

Looking at a single folder, and want to know where it is on your system? You'll have to go to View Folder Options, choose the View tab, and turn on the "Display the full path in the title bar" option. Want the same information in a File Open dialog box? Sorry, you'll need to purchase an add-on program for that.

Simple features that were present in DOS 20 years ago are still absent from Explorer, such as the ability to rename multiple files at once with wildcards or print out a list of files. You'll need add-on programs for these tasks, too.

The good news is that Windows Explorer is an entirely modular and extremely flexible application and will happily accept your hacks, add-ons, and fixes with aplomb (most of the time). Just think of Explorer as a starting point rather than a finished product, and you'll eventually get the kind of file management you want.