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Explorer Highlifted File & Folder left & right pane colour confusion RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am having a problem knowing which folder is selected when using Explorer (explorer.exe) for multiple operations of copying, moving, deleting files and folders.
    I have Windows 7 (64) Home Premium and use the Windows Classic Theme

    In CASE #1

    1. I Click a folder on the left pane. It Highlights in Dark Blue.
    2. Then I Click a sub-folder (or file) of that folder in the right pane. The right pane sub-folder (as expected) Highlights in Dark Blue, the left pane (parent) folder (as expected) becomes Highlighted in Light Gray.
    3. Then I Click back on the (parent) folder in the left pane. The left pane (parent) folder will (as expected) Highlight in Dark Blue, but the right pane sub-folder REMAINS (unexpectedly) Highlighted in Dark Blue.


    In CASE #2

    1. I Click a folder on the left pane that has sub-folders, and expand so that the sub-folders are below. The clicked (parent) folder on the left pane is (as expected) Highlighted in Dark Blue.
    2. I Click the sub-folder (below the parent folder) on the left pane. The sub-folder on the left pane is (as expected) Highlighted in Dark Blue.
    3. I Click now the parent folder again on the left pane. On the right pane, the sub-folder that was previously selected in the left pane is now (unexpectedly) highlighted in Dark Blue.


    After both the above, I tried using the TAB key to check what is actually selected.
    The TAB key switches between 5 or sometimes 6 (X) places when working with folders.
    With a file selected in the right pane, it goes many more places, but those are irrelevant for now.

    1. The parent folder (left pane) (both parent and sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    2. The sub-folder (right pane) (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - expected result)
    3. The first header field of the sub-folder (in my case: Name) (right pane) (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    4. (X) The top left of the Breadcrumbs line (Computer) (Some times only, not in all cases does it go here) (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    5. The Search box (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    6. The "Organize" header (left pane) (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)


    The difficulty with this is that now I do not know which pane/folder/file is the active (selected) one - the left, or the right, because BOTH folders are highlighted Dark Blue. This leads to a lot of confusion when switching between many open explorer windows doing copy/cut/paste/delete and similar operations.

    So my questions are, could you please tell me what I am doing wrong in the two below cases.
     
    A) How do I know which folder is selected when both are highlighted the same, instead of the active (selected one) in Dark Blue and the inactive (unselected one) in Gray?

    B) How do I know if a subfolder is selected or not when Explorer shows a subfolder is highlighted in Dark Blue so that it looks selected, but (after having used the TAB key) the active field could be the Search Box, or the "Organize" header, or the breadcrumbs' "Computer"?

    I know I must be making a stupid mistake somewhere, because I do not remember all this happening in XP, and it is a little too basic to be so confusing.

    Your help on understanding how to overcome this would be greatly appreciated.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011 3:58 AM

All replies

  • free404 wrote:

    I am having a problem knowing which folder is selected when using
    Explorer (explorer.exe) for multiple operations of copying, moving,
    deleting files and folders.  I have Windows 7 (64) Home Premium and
    use the Windows Classic Theme

    In CASE #1

    1. I Click a folder on the left pane. It Highlights in Dark Blue. 2. Then I Click a sub-folder (or file) of that folder in the right
    pane. The right pane sub-folder (as expected) Highlights in Dark
    Blue, the left pane (parent) folder (as expected) becomes Highlighted
    in Light Gray.  3. Then I Click back on the (parent) folder in the
    left pane. The left pane (parent) folder will (as expected) Highlight
    in Dark Blue, but the right pane sub-folder REMAINS (unexpectedly)
    Highlighted in Dark Blue.


    In CASE #2

    1. I Click a folder on the left pane that has sub-folders, and expand
    so that the sub-folders are below. The clicked (parent) folder on the
    left pane is (as expected) Highlighted in Dark Blue.  2. I Click the
    sub-folder (below the parent folder) on the left pane. The sub-folder
    on the left pane is (as expected) Highlighted in Dark Blue.  3. I
    Click now the parent folder again on the left pane. On the right
    pane, the sub-folder that was previously selected in the left pane is
    now (unexpectedly) highlighted in Dark Blue.


    After both the above, I tried using the TAB key to check what is
    actually selected.  The TAB key switches between 5 or sometimes 6 (X)
    places when working with folders.  With a file selected in the right
    pane, it goes many more places, but those are irrelevant for now.

    1. The parent folder (left pane) (both parent and sub-folder in Dark
    Blue - unexpected result) 2. The sub-folder (right pane) (parent
    folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - expected result) 3. The
    first header field of the sub-folder (in my case: Name) (right pane)
    (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    4. (X) The top left of the Breadcrumbs line (Computer) (Some times
    only, not in all cases does it go here) (parent folder in Gray,
    sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result) 5. The Search box
    (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    6. The "Organize" header (left pane) (parent folder in Gray,
    sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)


    The difficulty with this is that now I do not know which
    pane/folder/file is the active (selected) one - the left, or the
    right, because BOTH folders are highlighted Dark Blue. This leads to
    a lot of confusion when switching between many open explorer windows
    doing copy/cut/paste/delete and similar operations.

    So my questions are, could you please tell me what I am doing wrong
    in the two below cases.   
    A) How do I know which folder is selected when both are highlighted
    the same, instead of the active (selected one) in Dark Blue and the
    inactive (unselected one) in Gray?

    B) How do I know if a subfolder is selected or not when Explorer
    shows a subfolder is highlighted in Dark Blue so that it looks
    selected, but (after having used the TAB key) the active field could
    be the Search Box, or the "Organize" header, or the breadcrumbs'
    "Computer"?

    I know I must be making a stupid mistake somewhere, because I do not
    remember all this happening in XP, and it is a little too basic to be
    so confusing.

    Your help on understanding how to overcome this would be greatly
    appreciated.

    That seems to be a problem with your theme or colour scheme in effect.
    Or the redrawing of the desktop.

    I do not see this behaviour on any of my Win7 installations.
    Do you work at the computer display, which is directly connected to
    your PC or are you connecting remotely via remote desktop or another
    remote access tool.

    If you are not using the directly connected computer display it is most
    probably a problem of desktop redrawing (the inactive window is not
    redrawn frequently enough, so that you don't see the colours, which
    should be shown, but the ones from some time ago).

    If you are seeing it on the physical display of your PC, you seem to
    have a colouring scheme in effect, where inactive selected items are
    displayed in the same colour as active selected items (at least in the
    main explorer window).
    Try to use another theme, with another colouring scheme and see if that
    changes things. If that does not help see for any explorer shell
    extensions (As a primer, start your PC in safe mode without any
    extensions enabled and see if the issue persists or goes away - if it
    goes away it's probably some extension causing that behaviour).


    Wolfgang
    Monday, December 12, 2011 8:42 PM
  • Here at work, I can't change my theme at all, but I can recreate what you are describing.

    • To specifically answer your question (a), "how do you know what is selected" (but without resolving the underlying questionable behavior), (1) It's always the highlighted item in the left pane.   (2) Also, look at the address bar at the top of the explorer window, (3) look at the name as enclosed within the taskbar icon (most deep folders will be longer than will display on the taskbar though, so keep reading), or (4) hover over the icon, wait for a half second, and a tooltip will show you which specific folder has the focus (but only if the name is too long to display within the icon).
    • There's one other confusing scenario at play:  In spite of the confusion and both panes being highlighted, you're still looking at just one folder:  The left pane is the current folder, and the right pane (highlighted too) is part of the contents of that current folder.  So they're both pointing to the same place, confusing as it looks.  A "paste" would go to the correct place. I do agree, both being highlighted is questionable behavior if you've clicked the left pane.  My next paragraph on using F6 puts things back to where I think they should have been:
    • F6 is another shortcut key with a more specific purpose in life than TAB in this context, it moves you from the various sections of the window.  Stops include the address bar, the whatchamacallit menu (I don't know it's name, it includes Organize, Open, Include in Library, etc.), the left pane, the right pane, and the column headings of the right pane.  Passing through all those options will revert the display to where your left pane shows what you expect it to in blue and your right pane has what you previously had selected in gray.

    I also predict a certain MS staffer will tell you to do a clean boot and try again, and then later will tell you this behavior is by design.  ;-)    Uh oh!  Did I say that out loud?  ;-)



    • Edited by johnqflorida Monday, December 12, 2011 9:36 PM clarified explanation
    Monday, December 12, 2011 9:29 PM
  • Wolfgang wrote:

    That seems to be a problem with your theme or colour scheme in effect.
    Or the redrawing of the desktop.

    I do not see this behaviour on any of my Win7 installations.

    Wolfgang; Thanks, but none of the scenarios you suggested are applicable. I believe you have not understood my question as you have been unable to see the behaviour I have mentioned, which is independent of all that was mentioned.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011 3:56 AM
  • johnqflorida wrote:

    • To specifically answer your question (a), "how do you know what is selected" (but without resolving the underlying questionable behavior), (1) It's always the highlighted item in the left pane.  
    • There's one other confusing scenario at play:  In spite of the confusion and both panes being highlighted, you're still looking at just one folder:  The left pane is the current folder, and the right pane (highlighted too) is part of the contents of that current folder.  So they're both pointing to the same place, confusing as it looks.

    I also predict a certain MS staffer will tell you to do a clean boot and try again, and then later will tell you this behavior is by design.  ;-)    Uh oh!  Did I say that out loud?  ;-)

    johnqflorida,

    Thank you for an interesting reply. It made me think a little deeper about what was happening.

    Although it appears that one is looking at "just one folder" when both are highlighted as "Selected" (active), one expects the right folder to be the one that would take a Delete, Cut, or Copy command, but that is not the case.

    To get an idea how this happens in a working situation, this is a real case everyday scenario:
    1. Select an unexpanded folder (that has sub-folders) on the left pane. The left pane folder is correctly the selected one.
    2. Select a sub-folder of that on the right pane. The right pane folder is correctly the selected one.
    3. ONLY Expand the folder on the left pane by clicking the "+" on the left of the folder.

    What do you expect?
    You expect to see the folder tree on the left pane, and for the right pane sub-folder to still be the selected one.

    What actually happens?
    Both left and right pane folders are "Highlighted" as Selected!! And the right pane folder is NO LONGER the selected one, the left pane folder is now the selected one even though you NEVER clicked on the left pane folder, you simply expanded the tree! And even more baffling, at the bottom of explorer, in the information bar, it is showing the details of the (now NOT selected) right pane folder!

    Even odder scenarios occur when you have a folder/file selected in the right pane, and on the left pane you click an "Inaccessible" device. In this case, as you will see in the picture below, the left pane Drive is Highlighted as selected, the right pane folder of another Parent folder is Highlighted as selected. The actual active folder is the left pane one.

    So, the real painful issue is when one expects the right pane to be the active one, because it is "Highlighted" with the "Selected" (active) colour, and its information is showing in the lower area, it is actually the left pane that is "Selected" (active).

    Imagine now any of the following:
    • A "Shift-Delete" (Permanent Delete without using the Recycle bin) in such a case leads to disaster, as one would think they are deleting a sub-folder on the right, but actually end up permanently deleting the Entire Directory on the left.
    • A "CTRL-X" (Cut) and paste somewhere else leads to confusion and wasted time.
    • A "CTRL-C" (Copy) and paste somewhere else leads to the same.

    So here is what you see in the image below:
    1. Left pane folder clicked (left pane folder active)
    2. Right pane folder clicked (right pane folder active)
    3. Left pane folder clicked (left pane folder active)
    4. Right pane folder clicked (right pane folder active)
    5. Left pane tree expanded (without clicking folder) (left pane folder active)
    6. Empty CD drive clicked, Insert Disc warning pops up
    7. Insert Disc warning Canceled (left pane CD drive active)

    Do take note in the pictures above of the lower information part, and what shows there.

    I am considering the following solution to resolve this issue.

    • I will unlearn expected consistent behaviour.
    • If both left and right pane folders are Highlighted with the "Selected" colour - in my case Dark Blue, - that means the left pane folder is selected.
    • If the right pane folder is Highlighted with the "Selected" colour - Dark Blue, and the left pane is Highlighted with the "Unselected" colour - Gray, it means the right pane folder is selected.
    • Completely ignore the information area at the bottom for deciding what folder is active.

    Though this is a very unintuitive way of knowing, at least it is a way of knowing.

    Perhaps in Windows 8 we won't be blessed with a new dilemma.


    • Edited by free404 Wednesday, December 14, 2011 4:57 AM
    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 4:33 AM
  • One final addition, still along the lines of "what's in the left pane mostly rules":  "highlighted" and "selected" are two different things in this context, as it pertains to the right pane.  As an example, visualize a three level folder setup, the topmost/parent one named TOP, the middle one (child of TOP) named MIDDLE, and the bottom one (child of middle) named BOTTOM.  If you click TOP in the left pane, that folder is the one that is selected (which is why it's in the left pane).  (Big however though... see how I changed "always rules" to "mostly rules"?  keep reading...)

    Clicking MIDDLE once in the right pane highlights it, but doesn't select it.  Over in the left, TOP is still highlighted/selected (since it's what has one form of highlighting or another over in the left pane).

    If you DOUBLE-clicked MIDDLE, you'd select it, thereby making MIDDLE the highlighted folder over in the left pane.  When you do just one click, agreed, the color scheme makes it confusing, but you can at least stick with the "what's in the left always has the heft"... (Ahhh, I miss Johnnie Cochran....)  ;-)

    In a way (I can't say I noticed this before you pointed it out), I do half-like the fact that clicking the plus sign doesn't auto-select.  I can't say why I like it, or give a lucid explanation.  Maybe I just like the ability to do a bit of navigation/exploring without losing my current location (more on this below). 

    However, your plus/caret clicking does mess up my "What's highlighted on the left has the focus", to where the final authority has to be "What's in the address bar or the tooltip for the icon has the focus", because with a little creative collapsing of the plus signs (for example, with C:/TOP from my example selected, collapse the plus/caret next to "Computer" (don't click "Computer", click the plus/caret next to it to collapse all the children of computer)... That makes "Computer" highlighted, but that's not what really has the focus, so in the left pane really isn't always correct after all:  but the address bar and taskbar icon always are correct.

    Another way of remembering left vs. right: The left and right panes aren't fully independent like they are in some other tools, operating systems, or even good ole' Windows 3.1's File Explorer;  Left pane determines what's in the right pane.

     



    • Edited by johnqflorida Wednesday, December 14, 2011 9:48 PM Clarified wording
    • Marked as answer by Leo Huang Wednesday, December 21, 2011 9:00 AM
    • Unmarked as answer by free404 Friday, December 30, 2011 10:15 AM
    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 9:40 PM
  • johnqflorida,

    I read your input quite a few times and could not figure out where this was leading.

    Clicking the plus sign to expand the left side tree does auto-select the left side parent folder even when it was never selected before, which is the exact opposite of what one would expect, and it means, as you said, one cannot navigate around without losing their expected selection.

    Double-clicking though is not selecting, but opening, thus fundamentally different as here we are talking about "highlighted" and "selected."

    The "Tooltip" should be irrelevant as a marker, specially considering it can be turned off.

    What is in the "Address Bar" is definitely not what is in focus - or to be more accurate, "Selected"
    The Task Bar icon is not indicative of anything definitive.

    The right pane being dependent on the left pane has no bearing on "highlighted" colours being the same.

    Thus really, everything said here still does not give any clue on how to know what is selected.

    To pursue the issue even further, do the following:

    1. Click on a folder on the left pane that has sub-folders. It gets Highlighted with the Selected Colour.
    2. Click on a subfolder on the right pane. Sub-folder (right) gets Highlighted as Selected, Parent folder (left) takes Unselected Highlight colour.
    3. Click on Parent folder (left) again. Both left and right folders have the Selected Highlight colour.
    4. LOOK at the LEFT folder icon as you now press CTRL X. The folder "lightens" to show it has been cut.
    5. LOOK at the left folder icon as you now Press CTRL C. The folder returns to its previous shade (no longer being cut, but actually being copied)
    6. Repeat steps 1. 2. & 3.
    7. LOOK at the RIGHT folder icon as you now press CTRL X. The folder "darkens" to show it has been cut.

    What is happening is that BOTH folders' icon change colour to show a CUT (CTRL X) action is being done on them.

    If you are in the middle of many tasks and you are looking at the right pane when pressing CTRL X and you SEE the folder changing colour as it would when it is being cut, you will assume that this RIGHT pane folder was the one you were cutting. But in reality, you have cut the LEFT pane parent folder in the above case.

    Do I need to make another nifty gif for this too?

    The question thus remains completely open and unanswered, and to restate it in general:

    Which folder is selected when both are showing highlighted in the same colour?






    • Edited by free404 Friday, December 30, 2011 12:23 PM
    Friday, December 30, 2011 10:21 AM
  • I agree Explorer's out-of-the-box experience can be confusing.

    Just to throw out an idea...

    The open source / freeware package ClassicShell has a component called ClassicExplorer, and one of the nice things this tool provides is the ability to set it to force an auto update of the Files (right) pane whenever a folder is highlighted in the Navigation (left) pane...  I find it far less confusing when the two stay better coordinated with one another.

    Note that ClassicShell can be tasked with installing only the ClassicExplorer component, and if you do that it will leave your Start menu alone.

     

    -Noel


    My new eBook: Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options

    Friday, December 30, 2011 5:03 PM
  • Hi Noel Carboni,

    Thanks for the input.

    As you might have noticed from the top right cornner of my gif a few posts back, I am already using ClassicShell! It has been a lifesaver since the first week after moving to Win7.

    The "Auto-navigate to the selected folder" in ClassicShell is such a blessing, as when using the keyboard cursor keys to move up and down the tree, it lets you see the contents of folders on the right pane without hitting the "Enter" key all the time.

    Unfortunately though, it does not help at all in the perplexing "Highlight" issue, as can be read here, and at the bottom of that post is an entry where the author of ClassicShell refers to this behaviour as a "known bug."

    However, since it is not acknowledged by the software developers of Explorer as an issue, we must assume it is not one, and that highlighting both panes the same colour at the same time is a planned feature.

    Thus the reason for my original question in this forum, which was, in its condensed form:

    How am I to know which folder/file in Explorer is the selected one when both left and right pane selections are showing highlighted in the same colour?

    P.S. I actually found ClassicShell when looking for a way to get back a functional Start Menu, and was overjoyed that it included the Explorer Toolbar changes.
    • Edited by free404 Saturday, December 31, 2011 4:25 AM
    Saturday, December 31, 2011 4:22 AM
  • My apologies!  I certainly did visually miss that little shell icon in your image.  But perhaps my comment could help others as well.

    I realize the sequence you listed was for emphasis on why this is can be a very bad UI problem, but out of curiosity do you actually use Shift - Delete (avoiding the recycle bin) often, and if so why?  I've not found that using the recycle bin, especially when it's programmed not to prompt, is a problem.  Of course an exception would be when you really want to reclaim the disk space.

    Another thing I might suggest, in light of these Explorer anomalies, would be to try to get in the habit of right-clicking on things and use the Delete menu that's part of the context menu (and not using Shift, if that's what you're in the habit of doing).  That way you're more sure of what you're deleting, because it's always what you just clicked on, and of course you'll have the recycle bin backing you up.

     

    -Noel


    My new eBook: Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options

    Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:46 PM
  • Staying on the question being posed (it's so easy to get sidetracked with other issues), if we look very closely at the moving multiple image gif I have posted above, it may be noticed that even when both items are highlighted, the actual active one has a very faint, very hard to notice dotted black line around the item.

    Now I expect this will look different in other themes, but obviously when two items look selected there is some difference between a highligted item that looks selected, and a highlighted one that is actually selected.

    Is this how we are supposed to know which one is active, this very faint dotted black line around the item?
    I think not, because some other themes do not have any visible line on the left pane.

    But obviously there is some difference between the two, which comes right back to the perplexing question, that since this is not acknowledged as a GUI anomaly (has it been corrected in the test copies of Win8?), it must be a conscious decision to have this ambiguous behaviour, so then:

    How am I to know which folder/file in Explorer is the selected one when both left and right pane selections are showing highlighted in the same colour?

     

    Noel Carboni said:

    Another thing I might suggest, in light of these Explorer anomalies, would be to try to get in the habit of right-clicking on things and use the Delete menu that's part of the context menu ...

    To bite the bait of the sidetrack and answer Noel Carboni's question:
     
    Context menus grow due to many other things coming into them apart from those that come out of the box.

    When quickly doing repetative tasks, or working on having to move and archive a lot of files and folders, it is a lot faster to use the keyboard for common tasks such as: Copy (CTRL-C), Cut (CTRL-X), Paste (CTRL V), Renaming (F2), Deleting using the DEL key, and so on, rather than the mouse and an often bloated context menu.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012 1:34 PM
  • Seems to me a two-pronged approach works best with Windows - 1) point out the errors to Microsoft so they might be fixed, and 2) develop different approaches and good habits so that you can use what's there as effectively as possible.  Clearly, Microsoft is not falling over themselves to fix Explorer issues quickly.

    Context menus may grow and change, yes, but that doesn't mean the Delete entry is difficult to find.  I'm sorry you feel my suggestion was "bait".   It was a suggestion that works, from someone who genuinely wants to help, and who doesn't run into as many problems because he follows this two-pronged philosophy.  In short, my suggestion works.  I wouldn't have made it if I didn't follow it myself.

    I realize it can be difficult to try to develop new habits to replace old ones.  There are things I do too that I would hate to give up.  But learning alternate approaches is also precisely the type of activity that keeps one's mind young, so don't knock it.

    Imagine a flawed musical instrument (the best ones are usually quite flawed)...  A virtuoso learns to work around the flaws, and ultimately to embrace them and create unique sounds that only he/she and his/her instrument can make.

     

    -Noel


    Detailed how-to in my new eBook: Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options

    Sunday, January 1, 2012 3:07 PM
  • EDITED... 

    Ok, I just deleted everything I previously said:  The behavior is misleading and confusing, although I do think you can get accustomed to it and predict it's behavior.  (I view it as "left usually rules, but what you clicked most recently rules too")

    One thing I'll add, the windows "Application Key" (on most computers, to the left of the Ctrl key on the right side..  the key is a rendering of a context menu and the mouse arrow over it, and it activates context menus) is a lateral thinking (and keyboard shortcut way)  of getting to the context menu, and by picking "Properties" while a folder is selected (or not?), a definitive way of seeing what was/is the current selection.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012 3:12 PM
  • In response to: johnqflorida,
    One thing I'll add, the windows "Application Key" (on most computers, to the left of the Ctrl key on the right side.. the key is a rendering of a context menu and the mouse arrow over it, and it activates context menus) is a lateral thinking (and keyboard shortcut way) of getting to the context menu, and by picking "Properties" while a folder is selected (or not?), a definitive way of seeing what was/is the current selection.

    This "Application Key" tip is really an interesting lateral thinking method of getting info on a confusing scenario of two different items on two different parts of the explorer window both being highlighted the same colour and thus both looking "active".

    Pressing the "Application Key" (AK) once brings up the the context menu in the part of the screen that is active, which is a great indicator. Too bad pressing it a second time does not close it, as that would be a very fast way seeing. Instead the "Esc" key on the other end of the the keyboard has to be pressed.

    One of the reasons of having and using keyboard shortcuts like CTRL-X & CTRL-C is the speed at which it can be used without any other menus opening up.

    In this case, one could quickly press the "Application Key" (AK) followed by "t" ex: AK+t in replacement for CTRL-X or AK+c to replace CTRL-C. However when done fast, one does not get to see the Context Menu, and so one doesn't know what has cut/copied, the left pane folder or the right pane file/folder.

    Instead one would have to press the AK, wait for the Context Menu to appear, then press "t" or "c" or else press the Esc key and then use the more comfortable and familiar CTRL-X or CTRL-C.

    When many dozens of separate copying/moving/renaming/deleting folders and files is going on over an hour or two, this is a huge drain on one of our most important and expensive resources, time.

    Still, this is so much better than having to take one's hand of the keyboard and right click the mouse!



    In response to: Noel Carboni,

    You are so right about that two pronged approach.
    1) point out the errors to Microsoft so they might be fixed, and 2) develop different approaches and good habits so that you can use what's there as effectively as possible.
    Taking your wise philosophy together with together with johnqflorida's suggestion of the "Application Key" gives an interesting effective way of approaching the issue.

    I will leave the topic open for some time longer to see if any other interesting suggestions crop up.

    Meanwhile, it would be interesting to know if this behaviour of same colour highlights on both panes of the explorer window still exists on the Windows 8 trial copies. Does anyone know?


    • Edited by free404 Thursday, January 5, 2012 2:16 PM
    Thursday, January 5, 2012 2:12 PM
  • I haven't seen this documented, but Alt seems to close the Application Key Menu.

    I'm also leaning more and more to the general statement, "whatever was clicked most recently, caret excepted, has the focus".  I haven't found an exception to that rule yet.

    As far as counting on the location (right pane/left pane) of the context menu, it looks like it can fail you in this scenario: (yes, it's unusual, but still...)

    • Click child folder in right pane
    • Click parent folder in left pane
    • Click whitespace in right pane - not on a folder or file, just on whitespace.
    • Click application key:  The context menu opens in the right pane, but if you look at properties, it's still the folder from the left pane with the focus.  However, it is a different context menu, without cut/copy as choices.  An oddball situation, but still, more unusual fuel for this fire. 
    • And finally, for fun, try clicking the Edit Menu, "Invert Selection" choice on top of everything else.  You can end up with a bordered folder that doesn't have the focus either.
    Thursday, January 5, 2012 7:10 PM
  • free404, have you tried using a modern theme, e.g., the Windows 7 theme? It's possible the highlight colors will be better managed, and thus help avoid confusion between the different things using the Aero theme.

     

    Meanwhile, it would be interesting to know if this behaviour of same colour highlights on both panes of the explorer window still exists on the Windows 8 trial copies. Does anyone know?


    I tried your listed use cases with a virgin Windows 8 DP 32 bit install on a VMware virtual machine, freshly updated via Windows Update, as well as a Windows 8 DP x64 system that I've been working with for a while, and on which I've installed ClassicShell's ClassicExplorer component.  These two systems both behaved the same as one another, as I describe below:

     

    In CASE #1

    1. I Click a folder on the left pane. It Highlights in Dark Blue.
    2. Then I Click a sub-folder (or file) of that folder in the right pane. The right pane sub-folder (as expected) Highlights in Dark Blue, the left pane (parent) folder (as expected) becomes Highlighted in Light Gray.
    3. Then I Click back on the (parent) folder in the left pane. The left pane (parent) folder will (as expected) Highlight in Dark Blue, but the right pane sub-folder REMAINS (unexpectedly) Highlighted in Dark Blue.

    When I reached step 3, and clicked back on the parent folder in the left (Navigation) pane, the highlight was removed entirely from the folder in the right (Files) pane.  Thus the behavior you described should no longer be an issue.

    Note that I used the default theme, so the (folder selected) highlight is in a medium-light blue:

     

    In CASE #2

    1. I Click a folder on the left pane that has sub-folders, and expand so that the sub-folders are below. The clicked (parent) folder on the left pane is (as expected) Highlighted in Dark Blue.
    2. I Click the sub-folder (below the parent folder) on the left pane. The sub-folder on the left pane is (as expected) Highlighted in Dark Blue.
    3. I Click now the parent folder again on the left pane. On the right pane, the sub-folder that was previously selected in the left pane is now (unexpectedly) highlighted in Dark Blue.

    In this case, the sub-folder that was previously selected in the left (Navigation) pane is now light gray in the files pane:

     

    I don't know if it's the Aero theme or that changes have been made in Windows 8 to specifically address this issue, but it does seem to be avoiding the highlight confusion you have described.

     

    -Noel


    Detailed how-to in my new eBook: Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options



    Thursday, January 5, 2012 8:41 PM
  • I am having a problem knowing which folder is selected when using Explorer (explorer.exe) for multiple operations of copying, moving, deleting files and folders.
    I have Windows 7 (64) Home Premium and use the Windows Classic Theme

    In CASE #1

    1. I Click a folder on the left pane. It Highlights in Dark Blue.
    2. Then I Click a sub-folder (or file) of that folder in the right pane. The right pane sub-folder (as expected) Highlights in Dark Blue, the left pane (parent) folder (as expected) becomes Highlighted in Light Gray.
    3. Then I Click back on the (parent) folder in the left pane. The left pane (parent) folder will (as expected) Highlight in Dark Blue, but the right pane sub-folder REMAINS (unexpectedly) Highlighted in Dark Blue.


    In CASE #2

    1. I Click a folder on the left pane that has sub-folders, and expand so that the sub-folders are below. The clicked (parent) folder on the left pane is (as expected) Highlighted in Dark Blue.
    2. I Click the sub-folder (below the parent folder) on the left pane. The sub-folder on the left pane is (as expected) Highlighted in Dark Blue.
    3. I Click now the parent folder again on the left pane. On the right pane, the sub-folder that was previously selected in the left pane is now (unexpectedly) highlighted in Dark Blue.


    After both the above, I tried using the TAB key to check what is actually selected.
    The TAB key switches between 5 or sometimes 6 (X) places when working with folders.
    With a file selected in the right pane, it goes many more places, but those are irrelevant for now.

    1. The parent folder (left pane) (both parent and sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    2. The sub-folder (right pane) (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - expected result)
    3. The first header field of the sub-folder (in my case: Name) (right pane) (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    4. (X) The top left of the Breadcrumbs line (Computer) (Some times only, not in all cases does it go here) (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    5. The Search box (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)
    6. The "Organize" header (left pane) (parent folder in Gray, sub-folder in Dark Blue - unexpected result)


    The difficulty with this is that now I do not know which pane/folder/file is the active (selected) one - the left, or the right, because BOTH folders are highlighted Dark Blue. This leads to a lot of confusion when switching between many open explorer windows doing copy/cut/paste/delete and similar operations.

    So my questions are, could you please tell me what I am doing wrong in the two below cases.
     
    A) How do I know which folder is selected when both are highlighted the same, instead of the active (selected one) in Dark Blue and the inactive (unselected one) in Gray?

    B) How do I know if a subfolder is selected or not when Explorer shows a subfolder is highlighted in Dark Blue so that it looks selected, but (after having used the TAB key) the active field could be the Search Box, or the "Organize" header, or the breadcrumbs' "Computer"?

    I know I must be making a stupid mistake somewhere, because I do not remember all this happening in XP, and it is a little too basic to be so confusing.

    Your help on understanding how to overcome this would be greatly appreciated.


    I confirm they are bugs in Windows 7 explorer. I have the exact psame roblems: both sides of the file panels are highlighed, which cause confusion when press the Del key!!!
    Tuesday, January 10, 2012 4:35 AM
  • I deleted a parent folder 2 times because of this using shift del. I've got it back by getdataback. I've found an option to use check box before the selected file or folder I was very careful next time. Check box Ok on the right pane,  shift -del and I deleted the parent folder again from the left pane... 32 Gb music gone.
    Monday, September 17, 2012 8:20 PM
  • It should not have led you to delete the wrong thing, but may I suggest trying to get out of the habit of doing Shift delete to force a bypass of the Recycle Bin.  :)

     

    -Noel


    Detailed how-to in my eBooks:  

    Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options
    Configure The Windows 8 "To Work" Options

    Monday, September 17, 2012 9:05 PM