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All items for October 2007

Vista – Explorer: Disable Full-Row Selection, Add Tabs

One of the changes from Windows XP to Windows Vista is the difference when selecting/deselecting items in Windows Explorer when using the Detail View. In XP, you can deselect all items by left-clicking any column that is not the name column. I love that it is this way. In Vista, good luck trying to deselect all items using the same method. In Vista, the details view uses full-row selection. Clicking on other columns causes the item to stay selected. Sure, you can right-click to deselect, but that shows the context-menu which requires another left-click to remove. The only way in Vista to deselect all items is to click in actual white-space below any selectable items.

The good news is that I’ve found a free Explorer Plugin that lets you set Vista to use the XP style of deselection: QT Tab Bar

Vista Default Sample:

If I click on the date column in this case, Music
remains selected.

Vista w/ QT Tab Bar Sample:

If I click on the date column in this case, Music
is deselected, the same way it would work in XP.

To set the option, please do the following:

  1. Install QT Tab Bar (requires log-off).
  2. Open Explorer.
  3. Hit Alt to show the default file menu.
  4. Right-click in the empty space to the right and check QT Tab Bar.
  5. Right-click next to one of the tabs that now appears and choose Options.
  6. Click the Misc. tab and make sure that Full row selection in details view is unchecked.
  7. Make sure that Hide menu bar(Vista) is checked on this tab as well. (hit Alt+M to toggle the menu bar)
  8. Click OK. (If you get an error, just click Continue and everything will work fine).
  9. Close and re-open Windows Explorer.
  10. Note: If you switch from a different view to details view, it will possibly show full-row selection in the current directory. Once you change directories and go back, it will correctly show without full-row selection.

There are a bunch of other features that QT Tab Bar provides. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Tabs! – Very cool way to organize your numerous open Explorer windows. As a developer, I have way too many explorer instances open. This allows me to become better organized and save time. It also doesn’t require me to use a different program that is meant to be an explorer replacement but lacks much of the functionality I already depend on.
  2. Tab Groups – Again, as a developer switching between different projects, I can have preset groups of folders I need open while developing. QT Tab Bar gives me that functionality.
  3. Restore Tabs – When I close Explorer I lose my open folders. This makes it so I can close Explorer, go do something else and re-open Explorer with the same folders I previously had open.
  4. Application Groups – I haven’t used this one yet, but I’m sure it will help. An easy way to startup a set of applications that you need for a specific task.
  5. Plugins – Create your own additional functionality to plugin without having to do everything yourself (the download comes with some plugins which I have yet to use – If I find one that stands out, I’ll make sure to add it to this post).
  6. Shortcut Keys – For all the QT Tab features: undo last closed tab, clone tab, forward, back, next tab, etc.
  7. Change Selection with F2 – A nifty feature that toggles the filename selection when renaming. Hit F2 to rename, in Vista, it selects the filename without the extension. Hit F2 again and it changes the selection to no selection but with the cursor at the end of the filename in front of the .ext. Hit F2 again and now the extension is selected. This will save a bunch of time when all I want to do is change the extension.
     

Sample of Tabs added by QT Tab Bar:

It’s definitely a tool to add to your collection if you’re using XP or Vista. Did I mention that they also created a plugin to add the Vista Breadcrumb Bar to XP?

Download QT Tab Bar

Dead iTunes tracks fix

Ever had a bunch of music files in iTunes that you decided to move to somewhere else and you end up with the ! in front of the filename since iTunes can’t find it?  Well here’s an easier way to delete them than manually selecting each one and deleting it.  Maybe someday the software engineers who develop iTunes will figure out how to allow you to sort by the ! column, but until then… 

  1. Make a smart playlist called “All Files” with this rule: “Artist” is not “123456789” (or any nonsense name that won’t be in your library).
  2. Make a static playlist called “All Live Files”.
  3. Make a smart playlist called “Missing Files” with these rules: Match all of the following rules, Playlist is “All Files”, Playlist is not “All Live Files”
  4. Select all the files from “All Files” and drag them into “All Live Files”. The dead files marked (!) will not copy over.
  5. “Missing Files” will contain all of your dead files. Select all and delete. Voila, a nice clean iTunes library. A few more steps are needed since iTunes 7.4.3 doesn’t appear to let you delete anything from a smart playlist.
  6. Make another static playlist called “Dead Files”.
  7. Select all, right-click and choose “Add to playlist” and choose the “Dead Files” static playlist.  Why don’t I have you drag them from the “Missing Files” smart playlist to the “Dead Files” static playlist?  iTunes won’t let you, but for some reason you can do it by right-clicking on them and sending them to the playlist.  Kudos to the Itunes software engineers on that one.
  8. Select all the files in the “Dead Files” and delete.  Now you have the nice clean iTunes library.

I have these four playlists in their own folder. Whenever I gather more than a couple dead tracks for whatever reason, I delete all the tracks in “All Live Files” and repeat steps 4 through 8.

Not as nice as the much needed “Sort by (!)” feature but it works like a charm and it’s pretty simple.

Steps 1-5 taken from an anonymous comment on http://simra.net/blog/itunes_is_crap and updated with steps 6-8.

UPDATE 1/16/08
I’m not sure when exactly this was implemented, but as of iTunes 7.6 you can now sort by the (!) column. Now you can manage your dead iTunes tracks without so much hassle.

How do you install Windows Messenger 5.1 on Vista with UAC enabled?

The first question you may be saying to yourself is, “I thought the Microsoft download page for Messenger 5.1 said Vista wasn’t a supported OS”.  Well, it isn’t, at least not officially, but it does work (sort of).  The answer to the question above that you don’t want to hear is, “You can’t”.  Windows Vista will not let you install the newest release of Windows Messenger 5.1 on Vista when UAC is installed.  Sure, it will be nice and ask you for permission to install, but even though you say yes it will still fail and say that the “installation has been interrupted.”  The only way you will be able to install Windows Messenger 5.1 on Vista is to actually disable UAC, reboot, install Messenger, and then re-enable UAC, if so desired, and reboot again. 

Now how do you disable UAC? 

  1. Click on Start -> Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety -> User Accounts -> Turn User Account Control On or Off.
  2. Uncheck the box next to “Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer”
  3. Click on “OK”. 
  4. It will say you need to reboot, and it isn’t kidding so go ahead and reboot.
  5. Once you’ve rebooted into Vista, install Windows Messenger 5.1 and then follow the same instructions above, this time placing the check in the box, to re-enable UAC.

Be careful though, Windows Messenger 5.1 doesn’t like to work very well when a scrollbar appears in a chat window.  This is somehow tied to the “don’t give out your credit card information” message.  More on that later if I can find an easy answer to how to fix it.

Outlook 2007 Message Split View

When responding to a forum post, isn’t it nice to be able to have the original message scrollable separate from where you are typing your response?  Do you wish there was a way to do this when replying to a horrendously long email in Outlook?

 The other day, I accidentally found out how to do this.  Anytime you are viewing a message in its own window, just hit Ctrl+Alt+S.  When you do this, a separator bar will appear which you can then place anywhere on the message that you would like it to be split.  Once you have it where you want, just left-click your mouse and your view will now be split.  Each section will show the whole message and allow you to scroll them separately.  If you want to remove the split, just hit Ctrl+Alt+S again and it will be removed.  You can also move the split at any time.

It’s a nifty little feature that I definitely plan to take advantage of.