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Can I make explorer work (not look) like XP ? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I'm having real productivity trouble with Windows [7] Explorer, after coming to it from XP SP3 a few weeks ago. I don't mind that things look a bit different, that's fine. It's the functionality that's changed in so many ways, and not one of them for the better (IMHO).

    Is it in anyway possible to run the original XP windows explorer executable under a different name on Win 7? Is there a mode it can run in so it stops doing it's Win7 thing and works "properly" ?

    What bugs me about Win 7 explorer (I bet I miss some things):

     

    - Can't right-click on a drive or folder and search

    - When you do search, it searches "in" files instead of "for" files, so a search for where that file is on your drive that should take just a few seconds, takes many many minutes as it's searching inside each file

    - The left pane navigation from mouse clicks and keyboard is all screwed up.

    - Clicking on a drive or folder doesn't expand it in the same way

    - Moving up and down a list of folders doesn't auto-populate the right pane with the folder's contents

    - The hierarchy lines are gone

    - There's no toolbar where I can have my delete, refresh, up arrows

    - Choosing a folder on the left results in the right pane *ALWAYS* having too short a Name field. I have to drag it to resize it *EVERY TIME* (what's up with automatic sizing the columns? It's not that hard)

    Oh I'm bored of listing the ways the new explorer bugs me. I've added the 3rd party "classic shell" program but that only brings the toolbar back, the rest of it still annoys.

    I'm not an anti-progress hippy, I think Win 7 "looks" great, like the concept of libraries, the snipping tool. Once I made the taskbar behave properly (brought back quick launch and stop pinning and stop grouping) I'm happy with that. Also had to turn off UAC completely so I can use my machine to do what I want when I want. But explorer remains the thorn in my butt. I'm tempted to go back to Win XP x64 but I'm told that I'll suffer getting drivers for this brand new machine, otherwise I'd be straight there. Which problem were they trying to solve with explorer when they (apparently) rewrote it from scratch using someone who'd clearly never used the old one? </rant> :)

    Thursday, April 21, 2011 8:57 PM

Answers

  • Here's How to Utterly Disable Indexing

    Indexing is supposed to make it quick and easy to find things on your computer using Windows Search (that little box at the upper-right of Explorer windows).

    But when you think about it, does it make sense to read all the files on your disk, extract everything you could possibly want to search for, and store it on that same disk another way?  To even consider indexing providing better performance than just searching the files, Microsoft must be picking and choosing the data they think you'll want to look for (excluding data you WON'T want to search for), where you'll want to search, and in what kinds of files, and in fact they are.  How could they know everything you'll ever want to search for? 

    They can't.  Not everything is indexed, and never will be!

    Try this:  Create a simple text file on your disk, in a temporary folder.  Call it "FindMe.log" and put in the text "This file contains important tax information".  Now navigate to that folder with Explorer and enter the word "tax" into the Search box at the upper-right.  Enter any of the words in that file!  Windows Search will not find the file, because it simply does not LOOK in .log files by default, and there's no fallback strategy - Windows Search simply does not index nor search for information for some kinds of files.  Incredible!

    All it takes is ONE TIME searching for something you know is there and NOT finding it to destroy your confidence in Windows Search.

    And so they scan through your files endlessly, pick out the strings you might someday search for, and store them in yet another set of files (the "index").  As though your computer has nothing better to do.

    Not only is the basic premise of this wrong, but it's not even implemented very well.  The index often becomes corrupted, and so Microsoft has provided functions for you to clear and regenerate it.  Just what you wanted to be doing - NOT.

    Consider these shortcomings:

    ·        Some file types are simply not indexed or searched by default – e.g., .log files, and there's no fallback.  If you create a new file type no one's seen before, its contents will not be indexed.

    ·        Only strings THEY think you are likely to search for are indexed.

    ·        Because of poor implementation, indexing will miss things in some file types that are indexed – e.g., older Microsoft Word documents or files containing Unicode text (Microsoft's own invention).

    ·        Indexes often become corrupted and the Windows Search results fall out of date or it stops finding things entirely.

    ·        Indexing operations use computer time, increase disk wear, and interfere with your own access to your files.

    In summary, indexed Windows Search operations in Windows 7 simply can't be trusted to find your data in your files when it's critical, and so they're essentially useless.  That said, searching for filenames using Windows Search actually can be occasionally useful (though the syntax to ensure it searches only filenames is a bit tricky), but this doesn't require indexing.

    Moreover, indexing can actually interfere with file operations, causing your system to report disk corruption, because of an implementation error in indexing and NTFS (search the web for "Atomic Oplock", for example).

    So indexing should simply and utterly be disabled.  This won't actually stop you being able to try Windows Search - on the contrary with indexing off Windows 7 will actually search your actual files (within the limitations listed above) just when you tell it to, and (since indexing isn't implemented very well) it may actually INCREASE the probability that you might find what you're looking for.

    Here's how to disable indexing:

    1.        Click Start and enter services in the search box.

    2.        When Services (with little gears) comes up, click it.

    3.        Scroll down to the Windows Search service.

    4.        Right click it and choose Properties.

    5.        Change the Startup type to Disabled.

    6.        Click [ Stop ] to stop the service.

    7.        Click [ OK ].

    8.        Click Start and enter index in the search box.

    9.        When Indexing options comes up, click it.

    10.     Click the Advanced button.

    11.     Click the [ Rebuild ] button to delete the index.

    12.     It is a good idea to reboot after this.

    So that you're not nagged by Windows to reenable indexing:

    1.      Open a Windows Explorer window.

    2.      Choose ToolsFolder Options.

    3.      Click the Search tab.

    4.      Click the button next to "Don't use the index when searching in file folders for system files (searches might take longer)".

    5.      Click Start and type group policy into the search box.

    6.      When Edit Group Policy comes up, click it.

    7.      Navigate to User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer.

    8.      Enable the Turn off Windows Libraries features that rely on indexed file data entry.

    9.      If you do not have the Group Policy Editor on your version of Windows, change this registry entry:

    HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

    DisableIndexedLibraryExperience = 1

     




    • Proposed as answer by Arthur Xie Monday, April 25, 2011 4:49 AM
    • Marked as answer by Arthur Xie Friday, April 29, 2011 9:06 AM
    Saturday, April 23, 2011 5:54 PM

All replies

  • As far as I know there's no all-Microsoft way to make Explorer work like you saw in XP, but there are ways to improve it markedly, some of which involve downloading and installing free apps.

    Here are my suggestions:

    • For a right-click search capability, and which REALLY WORKS, download and install grepWin.

     

    • If you use Windows Search (i.e., the box at the upper-right of an Explorer window), use the form filename:xxx.yyy or ext:yyy to search just for filenames or extensions.  Yes, their new syntax is completely arbitrary and not related to anything you're used to.  Also consider turning off the stupid indexing entirely - this does not block you from doing searches and doing so actually makes the results more deterministic.

     

    • Download and install ClassicShell to return many of the UI features to be more familiar/useful.  As a bonus, this also tidies up some of the glitches in event handling in the Navigation (left) pane of Explorer.  I don't actually use the classic menu structure, but it still helps with a lot of things in Explorer, such as providing an "up" button.  It can also be configured to put the path in the Explorer title bar.

     

    • You can set the position and size of an Explorer window for a particular folder through the use of a free tool called ShellFolderFix.  This little tool is VERY nice, and plays with the others above just fine.  Explorer windows open where you expect them to (i.e., where they last were).

     

    As one who thought like you do, and who has now used Windows 7 for a couple of years, I can tell you that you won't be able to get everything you like, even with all the above tools and all the tweaks you can muster.  But you CAN make Explorer mostly useful and you CAN get used to the rest.

    Have fun!

    -Noel

     

    P.S., See also:  http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7itproui/thread/54b42003-9448-4306-b6df-f0463ebd7afb

    Saturday, April 23, 2011 5:46 PM
  • Here's How to Utterly Disable Indexing

    Indexing is supposed to make it quick and easy to find things on your computer using Windows Search (that little box at the upper-right of Explorer windows).

    But when you think about it, does it make sense to read all the files on your disk, extract everything you could possibly want to search for, and store it on that same disk another way?  To even consider indexing providing better performance than just searching the files, Microsoft must be picking and choosing the data they think you'll want to look for (excluding data you WON'T want to search for), where you'll want to search, and in what kinds of files, and in fact they are.  How could they know everything you'll ever want to search for? 

    They can't.  Not everything is indexed, and never will be!

    Try this:  Create a simple text file on your disk, in a temporary folder.  Call it "FindMe.log" and put in the text "This file contains important tax information".  Now navigate to that folder with Explorer and enter the word "tax" into the Search box at the upper-right.  Enter any of the words in that file!  Windows Search will not find the file, because it simply does not LOOK in .log files by default, and there's no fallback strategy - Windows Search simply does not index nor search for information for some kinds of files.  Incredible!

    All it takes is ONE TIME searching for something you know is there and NOT finding it to destroy your confidence in Windows Search.

    And so they scan through your files endlessly, pick out the strings you might someday search for, and store them in yet another set of files (the "index").  As though your computer has nothing better to do.

    Not only is the basic premise of this wrong, but it's not even implemented very well.  The index often becomes corrupted, and so Microsoft has provided functions for you to clear and regenerate it.  Just what you wanted to be doing - NOT.

    Consider these shortcomings:

    ·        Some file types are simply not indexed or searched by default – e.g., .log files, and there's no fallback.  If you create a new file type no one's seen before, its contents will not be indexed.

    ·        Only strings THEY think you are likely to search for are indexed.

    ·        Because of poor implementation, indexing will miss things in some file types that are indexed – e.g., older Microsoft Word documents or files containing Unicode text (Microsoft's own invention).

    ·        Indexes often become corrupted and the Windows Search results fall out of date or it stops finding things entirely.

    ·        Indexing operations use computer time, increase disk wear, and interfere with your own access to your files.

    In summary, indexed Windows Search operations in Windows 7 simply can't be trusted to find your data in your files when it's critical, and so they're essentially useless.  That said, searching for filenames using Windows Search actually can be occasionally useful (though the syntax to ensure it searches only filenames is a bit tricky), but this doesn't require indexing.

    Moreover, indexing can actually interfere with file operations, causing your system to report disk corruption, because of an implementation error in indexing and NTFS (search the web for "Atomic Oplock", for example).

    So indexing should simply and utterly be disabled.  This won't actually stop you being able to try Windows Search - on the contrary with indexing off Windows 7 will actually search your actual files (within the limitations listed above) just when you tell it to, and (since indexing isn't implemented very well) it may actually INCREASE the probability that you might find what you're looking for.

    Here's how to disable indexing:

    1.        Click Start and enter services in the search box.

    2.        When Services (with little gears) comes up, click it.

    3.        Scroll down to the Windows Search service.

    4.        Right click it and choose Properties.

    5.        Change the Startup type to Disabled.

    6.        Click [ Stop ] to stop the service.

    7.        Click [ OK ].

    8.        Click Start and enter index in the search box.

    9.        When Indexing options comes up, click it.

    10.     Click the Advanced button.

    11.     Click the [ Rebuild ] button to delete the index.

    12.     It is a good idea to reboot after this.

    So that you're not nagged by Windows to reenable indexing:

    1.      Open a Windows Explorer window.

    2.      Choose ToolsFolder Options.

    3.      Click the Search tab.

    4.      Click the button next to "Don't use the index when searching in file folders for system files (searches might take longer)".

    5.      Click Start and type group policy into the search box.

    6.      When Edit Group Policy comes up, click it.

    7.      Navigate to User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer.

    8.      Enable the Turn off Windows Libraries features that rely on indexed file data entry.

    9.      If you do not have the Group Policy Editor on your version of Windows, change this registry entry:

    HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

    DisableIndexedLibraryExperience = 1

     




    • Proposed as answer by Arthur Xie Monday, April 25, 2011 4:49 AM
    • Marked as answer by Arthur Xie Friday, April 29, 2011 9:06 AM
    Saturday, April 23, 2011 5:54 PM