Tips & Tricks #3 - Customizing your InfoTips

Chitchat about x² / 2X products

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nikos
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Post by nikos » 2002 Oct 13, 18:35

Windows 2000 brought us loads of columns in explorer, containing useful information apart from the standard name/size/date of files and folders. Although 2xExplorer is eternally trapped in a 3-column misery, the new infotip capability brought about with the latest version Z1 can go some way alleviating the handicap.

Infotips are the little text windows that popup when you hover over an item in some pane in 2x. If you can't see any you either have old (pre-2000) windows or you haven't activated infotips from View | Options | Usability page. The good thing about them is that you can customize them so as to display the kind of information you are interested in, per file type. The only qualification required is some experience with editing the registry. On the other hand, if the word "registry" reminds you more of newborn babies and marriages, then I wouldn't recommend reading any further :)

The default infotips come from the InfoTip value found under the registry key HKEY CLASSES ROOT\*. Settings in this key affect all items in the shell namespace. On my win2000 system this default setting is:

Code: Select all

InfoTip = prop:Type;Author;Title;Subject;Comment;Size
This infotip setting will show (as the names suggest) the type, author, title, subject, comment and size of any file. Some properties as Subject are only valid for specific file types as word documents; other file types ignore them and show just the type and size.

There are standard properties you can show as seen in the above example, with names closely matching the column titles in explorer. You'll find the full list of simple properties in MSDN (scroll down or search for the "Infotip Customization" section in that page).

Some properties are more useful than others. For example, the Comment field allows you to see comments inserted e.g. in Word documents or any file stored on an NTFS partition via it's property page -- how many users are using these? On the other hand having Size and Type popping up is mere waste of space and I recommend removing them from the default InfoTip key. These properties are available in 2xExplorer already anyroad.

The default infotip can be overriden for each different file type. If you want something else shown for a particular file type just add an InfoTip value under its ProgId key. So if you want to see the version of executable files in an infotip, locate HKCR\exefile (NOTE: not .exe), right-click on the right pane and add a new string value (REG_SZ), rename it to InfoTip and double-click on it to add this content:

prop:{0CEF7D53-FA64-11D1-A203-0000F81FEDEE},4

Whoa! what was that all about I hear you cry in dismay. Well, you'll recognize the "prop:" keyword that tells shell this is to be interpreted as a variable rather than a fixed string. The funny number within the {braces} is the unique identifier (fmtid) for this particular category of shell properties and the number 4 is the index within this category that corresponds to the module version. Where did I find all this info? Well I cheated a little since I found that programmatically. Microsoft again did the daft thing and didn't document important information. On the other hand they do mention some of these extended properties that can appear in infotips as a {fmtid},pid pair (i.e. category identifier and property id number as in the above example). Out of the above link the most important property should be the pair {9B174B34-40FF-11D2-A27E-00C04FC30871},4 which shows you the owner of a file.

Note that you can have many such {fmtid},pid pairs in an infotip, separated by semicolons. You can have plain property names mixed in as well, as e.g. in:

prop:Comment;{fmtid},pid;Size;{fmtid2},pid2

There are other undocumented properties that give information for audio files but I won't present them here since most good multimedia programs install their own infotip handlers and show all the information you need. The other day I installed dbPowerAmp and I was surprised to see an infotip that barely fitted in the screen -- a bit over the top arguably.

You can't control these kind of infotips by registry editing. In fact if you see a key like

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.mp3\ShellEx\{00021500-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}

you shouldn't add any InfoTip values for such file types lest you want to screw up the intended information.

If that was a bit too taxing for you, fear not because in xplorer² all this information will be available as normal columns in the detailed view mode, so you wouldn't need to poke about with cryptic numbers just to get a file's version in a lame infotip. Future so bright I gotta wear shades :cool:

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Post by jorge » 2002 Dec 07, 15:00

is this possible in windows 98?
i tried to find the entry in hkey_classes_root/*
but failed

thanks

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Post by nikos » 2002 Dec 07, 15:16

no, you need windows 2000 or better (not sure about ME)

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Post by beeryoni » 2008 Feb 09, 11:27

do people still use 98??

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Post by beeryoni » 2008 Feb 09, 11:28

also...
how well does Infotips work on Vista?
i know that Vista has a lot of problems with most software.
i have just gotten a computer with vista and want to install this application.
thank you for your help.
Yoni from horsesring.com

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Post by nikos » 2008 Feb 09, 12:24

it works ok both in 98 and vista
why don't you download the free trial version and see for yourself?

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Post by beeryoni » 2008 Feb 09, 14:52

gonna go do that right now. thanks Nikos

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Post by johngalt » 2008 Feb 10, 20:55

One question:  Does adding the Infotip key apply only to X2 or to all Windows files managers (explorer, any other file manager)?
Image

Image

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Post by nikos » 2008 Feb 11, 05:04

it's definitely for all explorers that adhere to the shell standards. Windows explorer for sure

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Post by johngalt » 2008 Feb 12, 00:10

I thought it might be - just wanted verification before I did so and then saw 'unexpected' results :P
Image

Image

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Post by Kilmatead » 2008 Nov 21, 20:00

In the interests of imagining Fgagnon choking in surprise on his tea and croissant-au-chocolat at the idea of people actually using the forum 'Search' button before posting, I'll place this here.  :D

Whence displaying the tooltips, as long as the mouse pointer remains on the filename in question, Windows Explorer seems happy to display the information indefinitely - whereas x2 (x64) seems to cut out after about 6 seconds or so.  Is there any means of extending the time it's displayed, as my feeble brain finds it difficult to absorb copious data in ephemeral timeframes.

Image

Yes, I know one can just move the pointer away-and-back-again to redisplay the info, but that's a rather gauche solution if ever there was.  :roll:

This feeble mind requires at least 8 seconds to glean the gist in the infotip image above.

Is there an HKEY for me to irreparably corrupt?  :D

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Post by nikos » 2008 Nov 22, 06:14

the show period can be adjusting in code but i don't know if it can also be done by GUI, try something like tweakUI

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Post by Kilmatead » 2008 Nov 22, 09:01

johngalt wrote:One question:  Does adding the Infotip key apply only to X2 or to all Windows files managers (explorer, any other file manager)?
nikos wrote:it's definitely for all explorers that adhere to the shell standards. Windows explorer for sure
Umm... considering that I pointed out that in Windows Explorer it's already on indefinite timeout and therefore only in x2 is the display time truncated, the Existential Tennis Algorithm puts the ball in your court, does it not?

Tweak UI was a fine thing in XP, but it's transition to Vista (never mind x64) has always come across as a botched job.  And, if I may point this out, the expectation that a third-party tool may "help" this inconsistency contravenes your statement about "all explorers that adhere to the shell standards".

So I'll chalk the 6-seconds up as another "feature" aimed at speed-readers, shall I?

Either that feature list seems to be growing, or I'm just persistently awkward.   :roll:  (Don't answer that. :D)

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Post by nikos » 2008 Nov 22, 09:04

how about hit <printscreen> then watch it in irfanview? :)

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Post by Kilmatead » 2008 Nov 22, 09:14

Mmm, this chalk is tasty. :D  No Christmas feast for me this year.

Ah well.  "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche."

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