Windows Tips: A Simple Fix for Windows' Misbehaving Folders

In my June column, I described how to add a New Folder command to your right-click menu. Unfortunately several readers have reported that after they followed the steps I outlined, their default folder double-click behavior went crazy: In some cases, when they tried to open Explorer's Folder Options dialog box, they got the Edit File Type dialog box instead; in others, when they double-clicked a folder's icon in Explorer, Windows--rather than opening the folder--launched the Search Companion, the Open With dialog box, or some other application that the readers had set to work with folders. It turns out that these readers had uncovered a bug in Windows' Edit File Type dialog box. Microsoft confirms that this problem can arise after you open the dialog box for folders, even if you make no changes at all! Reader Peter Terry of Millsboro, Delaware, was kind enough to point out both the problem and the solution.

The wacky right-click behavior occurs because opening the Edit File Type dialog box can corrupt a section of the Windows Registry. Before you enter the Registry to effect repairs on this complex repository of Windows settings, create a backup. With your Registry backup in place, click Start, Run, type regedit, and press Enter to open the Registry Editor. In the tree pane on the left, scroll all the way down to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell (if the problem occurs when you double-click folder icons) or to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shell (if it happens when you double-click drive icons). With the shell icon selected in the left pane, double-click the Default icon in the right pane. In the Value data box, type none and click OK (see FIGURE 1

Figure 1: Folders don't open like they used to? Add this word to your Registry.
); then exit the Registry Editor. The next time you double-click a folder or drive icon, it should behave properly. For a faster way to create new folders in Windows Explorer, see the item about BxNewFolder on the next page.

XP's Image-Viewer Shortcut

In last May's issue, I provided tips on working with Windows XP's built-in Picture and Fax Viewer application. If you've already installed Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or some other image editor, double-clicking a digital photo or Web image may open your pictures in that program instead of in XP's own viewer. Fortunately, reader Charles Rydell of Georgetown, Texas, tells us the simplest way to have your image editor and XP's viewer, too: Anytime you want to open one or more images in XP's Picture and Fax Viewer, just right-click a picture file (or a selected group of them) and choose Preview (see FIGURE 2

Figure 2: Open the image viewer in XP by choosing Preview on your right-click menu.
). The viewer applet will then launch with your first picture displayed. From there, you can use the Next and Previous buttons (or the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard) to cycle through all the pictures that are stored in the current folder (if you opened only one), or through only those pictures that you had selected previously.

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