10 Mei, 2007

Tricks When Opening/Saving Files (Windows)

Did you know that the Open Dialog Box, and the Save Dialog Box that are common to most Windows programs contain much of the functionality of the Windows Explorer? The window pane that shows the list of files available to open (or to overwrite) is essentially a miniature Explorer, and as with Windows Explorer, there are a myriad of viewing and sorting features available. You can even do things like delete files, rename files, copy files to the clipboard, and more.

The default display is list view, but it can be changed icon views, the detail view, and even the thumbnail view. In the details view, the columns can be sorted. Most of the functions that are available in the context menu of the Windows Explorer are also available here.

When bringing up the context menu (right-click), you’ll notice that a “Select” option is added to the top. This is the default behavior for a dialog box, “select” meaning to return the name of the selected file(s) to the program that invoked the dialog box. Note: Do not confuse “Select” with “Open”, which launches (another instance of) whatever program is associated with the file name extension.

Tip #1: Open Files by Age — Say that you want to open a Microsoft Word document that you know to exist in a certain folder, but you cannot remember the name of it and there are hundreds of Word documents in that folder. But you do recall that it was one of the oldest documents in that folder. Changing the display in the open dialog to list view allows you to get at the date modified attribute of each file. (Note: you may have to adjust the size of the dialog box first, or squeeze some of the leftmost columns, in order to see the date modified column). Click on the column heading to sort it in ascending order (oldest files on top). Click on the column heading again to sort it in descending order (newest files on top).

Tip #2: Rename as You Save — Say that you’ve been working on a document and you suddenly realize that you’ve been saving it with the wrong name. Maybe you are working on last year’s financial statement but accidentally named it “financials_2007.doc” when it should have been “financials_2006.doc”. You can certainly do a Save-As (F12) and give it the correct name, which will create a second copy of the file with the correct name, but it will leave the unwanted original file behind as well. So, here’s how to avoid that:

- Invoke the Save-As dialog box (F12).
- Adjust the view until the existing name (the wrong name) is visible by scrolling or sorting.
- Right-click on the wrong name and select “Rename”.
- Change it to the correct name.
- Select that as the save-as name.
- When Windows asks if you want to overwrite the file, answer Yes.

Tip #3: Open Multiple Files at Once — Multi-select usually works here (depending on the program). in case you’re not aware, here’s how multi-select works (in Windows, and in most Windows programs):

- To select multiple items in a row, click on the item at the start of the range (or the end of the range) to highlight that one item. Then, hold down the shift key while clicking on the item at the other end of the range.
- To additively select individual items, hold down the control key while clicking on them.
- To deselect an individual item that has already been selected (either via a shift-click or a control-click), hold down the control key while clicking on it.