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File-Ex Version 3 Helpful Hints


Not everybody reads the entire Readme.txt or Help file when they install new software, so we've put together this page of helpful hints for getting you started with File-Ex.

If you have any other ideas for helpful hints, please let us know!

Contents:


Tips for Getting Started:

Most of the time, using File-Ex is as simple as just installing it -- it automatically "works" whenever you open or save a file in your favorite applications.

Sometimes, however, you might not see any differences in the file Open and Save dialogs. These tips explain why and how to fix it.

  • "All I can see is the configuration dialog -- how do I use the program?"

    Understand that File-Ex is not a stand alone file manager. It only functions as an enhancement to file dialogs, and runs in the background waiting for file dialogs to appear.

    The icon you see in the task bar tray can be used for configuration and other File-Ex functions, but to actually see it "do something", you need to use the File / Open or File / Save As functions in another program. Some easy ones to test with are the Windows "Accessories" Programs, Notepad and Wordpad.

    For more details, see the "What File-Ex Does" section of the Help file or Readme file installed with File-Ex. You can find links to these on your Start / Programs / File-Ex menu.
  • If you don't see File-Ex enhancements when doing File / Open in the Windows Notepad application

    Notepad is a good "generic" application for making sure File-Ex is running properly. If it doesn't work here, then there are a few possibilities:

    1. Make sure File-Ex is running. If you see the "FE" icon in your task bar tray, and if it doesn't have any red lines through it (indicating that it's disabled), then it's running.
    2. Make sure File-Ex hasn't been disabled for Notepad by accident. Check the "Disabled Dialogs" tab of File-Ex configuration, and also check the "Trained Applications" to see if it has been trained to ignore Notepad (if you see a Notepad entry, make sure the "use File-Ex" option is checked).
    3. Finally, It's possible that File-Ex is being rendered inoperable by another program. File-Ex can be effectively disabled by a bug in another program -- there are several programs that use the same hook technology that File-Ex uses, but due to a bug in their program they end up disabling File-Ex (or any other software using hooks). This is usually caused by some other "enhancement" utility, such as mouse or keyboard enhancers, macro programs, shell enhancements, etc. To figure out which one is causing it, you'll need to close/disable anything you suspect, then close/restart File-Ex. If it works now, then restart other programs and test File-Ex after each one.
  • MS Office applications (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.)

    These applications don't use the "common" file dialogs, so they won't be automatically enhanced. However, File-Ex can be easily trained to work with them. Better yet, pre-trained templates are included for English (and German) versions of MS Office, so you only need to Import the appropriate template for your version.

    To import a template:

    1. Click on the File-Ex tray icon to open the File-Ex Configuration dialog
    2. Click on the "Trained Applications" tab
    3. Click the "Import" button
    4. Select the version of Office or Outlook that you use (if you don't see them listed, then you may need to locate the File-Ex data folder where the templates were installed).

    By the way, the Office XP template works for Office 2003 as well.

    Non-English versions:

    If a template isn't included for your language of MS Office, then you can either train the dialogs yourself (see the help file for simple step-by-step training instructions), or you can take a shortcut in most cases:

    1. Import the English version template as above, for your version of Office or Outlook.
    2. Double-click on one of the dialogs listed for an application you use to Edit it.
    3. Change the "Match Dialog Title" entry to match the name of the dialog in your language. (You may need to open the corresponding dialog in the application to get the correct name for some of them.)
      Note for Office XP/2002/2003: Only the first letter of the dialog title should be entered.
    4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each dialog that you plan to use.
  • Corel applications (Word Perfect, Ventura, DRAW, etc.)

    Most versions of Corel applications don't use the "common" file dialogs, but some use dialogs that look close enough to the common ones to File-Ex that they are enhanced automatically. In some cases, this doesn't work because of the minor differences, so File-Ex needs to be trained for them anyway. For simple training instructions, see the help file.


File-Ex Tips and Tricks

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of File-Ex and finding your way around the configuration options.
  • Getting rid of the "clutter"

    If you don't use all of the File-Ex features, they can be disabled to clean up (and in some cases speed up) the dialogs.

    • File management buttons -- any or all of these can be turned off in the File-Ex Configuration.
    • "u" and "a" hints -- if you don't care to use the keyboard to jump to the Recent and Favorites lists, these can be turned off in the Configuration (see the "Recent / Favorites" tab). Note that the shortcut keys will still function, but the hints will be hidden.
    • Recent/Favorite lists -- You can disable either of these lists if you don't need them.
    • "Add..." and "Edit...." lines in the Recent/Favorite lists -- Once you know these functions are there, you may prefer that they not get in the way of your file/folder list. You can disable these by default, and when you do need them they will still be available by holding the Ctrl key down when you click on the drop-down box.
    • Headers in the Recent/Favorite lists -- If you've memorized the positions of the lists, you can get rid of the "labels" so only the files/folders are shown.
  • Speeding things up

    It's common to notice a slight delay when using File-Ex -- part of this is due to the File-Ex functions being added to the dialog and part is due to the dialog being larger (thus having to display more icons and filenames).

    If you think it's too slow, there are some things you can do to speed it up:
    • Reduce the number Recent files/folders shown in the lists (Configuration, Recent / Favorites).
    • Show "Complete Path" for recent files (it takes longer to format it for the "Relative Path" option)
    • Disable Sorting -- sorting can take significant time for folders with a large number of files. If you don't find that alternate sorting is a big help, disable it to speed things up.
    • Don't default to the last folder used. While this is a very handy feature, it does result in double-processing when showing the dialog if the application started in a different folder. This can be disabled for all applications, or for individual applications (see below).
    • Reduce the size of the dialog. Sure, full-screen is cool, but it takes a long time for Windows to load and display all of those icons.
  • Making File-Ex leave the folder alone

    Sometimes an application knows best what folder to use, so you don't want File-Ex to default to the last one. This can be disabled for specific applications, or even specific dialogs (e.g. for just Save, but not Open). Below is an example of disabling the change-to-last-folder option for the Open dialog of an application:

    1. Make sure you know which key is used to temporarily disable File-Ex -- see the Configuration, Disabled Dialogs tab, and set the "Prompt for disabling..." option to Shift, for example.
    2. Go to the application, and hold that key down while clicking the "Open" function. You should see a new dialog with disabling options
    3. Make sure the "Disable opening to the last folder used" option is checked, and uncheck the other two "Disabling..." options.
    4. Select "Permanently disable"
    5. (Optional) Check "Disable for ALL..." if desired, to disable it for all Open/Save dialogs in this application.
    6. Click OK.

    If you ever want to re-enable this, or if you make a mistake, go to the "Disabled Dialogs" tab of the File-Ex Configuration to re-enable the dialog(s).
  • Forcing File-Ex to open to a specific folder every time

    Sometimes you just want to always use a specific data folder for an application. This can be easily done, and involves setting that folder as a Favorite and then setting the "always-open" option:

    1. Do File / Open in the application to open the File-Ex enhanced file dialog
    2. Navigate to the desired folder (using the Look In drop-down, etc. as usual, or by using the Recent Folders list).
    3. Click on the Favorite Folders drop-down. If you don't see an option to "ADD current folder", close the drop-down (click on it again) and then hold the Ctrl key down when clicking on it.
    4. Select "ADD current folder". The drop-down will close.
    5. Click on the Favorite Folders drop-down again, and select "EDIT Favorites" (again, you may need to hold the Ctrl key down)
    6. Make sure the fodder you want is on the top of the Favorite Folders list. If not, select it and use Move Up to move it.
    7. Check the "Open to the first Favorite Folder..." option at the bottom.
    8. Click OK.
  • Making File-Ex leave a dialog alone

    Once in awhile you may run into an application that just doesn't look right or work with File-Ex. You can disable File-Ex for the dialog, or if you still want File-Ex's functionality, you can train File-Ex for the dialog.

    Training File-Ex will "replace" the application's dialog with a standard one, so File-Ex will work normally. However, you will lose any special functions of the application. For training instructions, see the Help file.

    You can also simply disable File-Ex for the dialog. This can be done temporarily just to make sure File-Ex is the problem, and then you can make it permanent. This can be done for specific applications, or even specific dialogs (e.g. for just Save, but not Open). Below is an example of disabling the File-Ex for the Open dialog of an application:

    1. Make sure you know which key is used to temporarily disable File-Ex -- see the Configuration, Disabled Dialogs tab, and set the "Prompt for disabling..." option to Shift, for example.
    2. Go to the application, and hold that key down while clicking the "Open" function. You should see a new dialog with disabling options
    3. Leave all of the "Disabling..." options checked, and click OK to temporarily disable File-Ex. The Open dialog should appear. (Advanced users -- you can try just disabling the Sizing or the File Management functions, or both, to see if it works OK.)
    4. To permanently disable it, close the Open dialog and repeat steps 2 and 3 above.
    5. Select the "Permanently disable" option
    6. (Optional) Check "Disable for ALL..." if desired, to disable it for all Open/Save dialogs in this application.
    7. Click OK.

    If you ever want to re-enable this, or if you make a mistake, go to the "Disabled Dialogs" tab of the File-Ex Configuration to re-enable the dialog(s).
  • Cleaning up the Recent lists

    After using File-Ex for awhile, the Recent files and folders lists can get quite long. This can not only get cumbersome, but it can also slow File-Ex down.

    File-Ex has functions to edit the recent lists, and also an "automatic orphan deletion" function. Since these aren't used often, the editing function is "hidden" by default. (You can make it visible all the time by settings the option in Configuration.)

    To clean up your lists:

    1. Bring up the File / Open dialog in an application
    2. Hold the Ctrl key down and click on the "Recent Files Used..." drop-down list
    3. Click "EDIT Recent Files/Folders". The Edit Recent Files/Folders dialog should appear.
    4. To automatically remove any files or folders that no longer exist, click the "Remove all orphaned entries" button at the bottom. This can take several seconds or more, depending on the size of the list and whether network drives are involved.
      Note: If any files or folders are on network or removable drives that are not available at the time, they will be removed!
    5. To manually delete entries, just select them in the list and click the Delete button. You can use Shift or Ctrl to select multiple items for deletion. Note that the entries are normally in order with the most recent at the top.
    6. To completely clear a list, just use the Clear All button.
    7. Click OK.
    8. If you also want to clean up the global list (for all applications), repeat the steps above except use the "Edit Recent Files/Folders for All" function (you'll need to scroll to the "All Application" section of the drop-down list to find it).



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