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Posts Tagged ‘Windows’

Windows Explorer Annoyances – Part 1

Windows Explorer is one of the Windows applications I spent most time in. At work, we have a large collection of network drives, local drives and large folder structures. We still use Windows XP there. I get along with Windows Explorer in XP just fine. The only thing I really miss in XP (because the large amount of folders I have to move between constantly) is tabs in Windows Explorer. Luckily, there are 3rd party tools for that, like the QTTabBar extension (http://qttabbar.wikidot.com/) or the xplorer2 replacement (http://www.zabkat.com/).

But in Vista and Windows 7 the Explorer is ‘upgraded’. Now I love progress, especially in Windows Explorer, since I use that a lot, so anything that gets my work done quicker gets my blessing. And to be fair, a lot is indeed better (like the address bar) in Vista an 7. But that are some things that nag me so much, I just have to write about it! I have lots of usability issues with Windows Explorer in Windows 7, so this post is just the first of a series about it.

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Hide extensions for known file types

June 27, 2010 1 comment

For every piece of software that communicates with human users, designers and programmers have to decide what level of technical detail they will dispense to the user. The proper approach is to make a profile of your target users and adjust the level to the technical knowledge they have. For example, if you make an IDE for computer programmers, the level can be much higher than when making an internet browser that is meant for the masses. For applications or environments that serve a wide range of users, such as operating systems for PC’s or mobile phones this is of course much harder.

One of the major mistakes Microsoft made (and still is making) in this area is the "Hide extensions for known file types" option in the Windows Explorer. When this is on (which is so by default), users don’t see extensions for files for which an application is registered to handle it. For example, "MyFile.txt" becomes "MyFile" because notepad is registered to open the file when you double-click it. I understand the basic reasoning about this; file name extensions are a technical means and the acronyms like .exe and .gif don’t mean anything to the non technical user, right?

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