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Windows XP: Tips and Tricks

Boost Your Desktop Productivity

Custom File Open / Save Dialog

Typically when using software on Windos XP, if it’s the type of application from which you can save documents (MS Word, Notepad, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Sony Sound Forge, etc.), once you have saved a document during an “open session” with that application, meaning if you havent shut-down, or exited the app since the last save, then the next time you opt to save a document, the Open / Save dialog “window” will show the same location where you last saved (or from which you last opened) a document. It’s a Windows behavior which you are probably so accustomed to that you don’t even realize that it’s happening that way. The idea being, i venture to guess, is to boost productivity under the mindset that if the user has saved in this folder, he or she will likely save in the same folder again, and 9 times out of 10, this is probably the case. However, have you ever worked with any software applications which always revert back to the same “default” location in the Save dialog– even if you’ve recently saved (or opened) a document from that application during that session with the app? If your answer is yes then you probably have also noticed this peculiarity, and found it to be annoying– if not, then you’re fortunate to either not be bothered by it, or to simply not use any apps that function that way!

If you’re one of the frustrated users, you don’t have to deal with that frustration any longer!

You’ve probably heard of the Microsoft Power Toys for Windows XP User Interface tweaking utility, aptly named, Tweak UI. If you don’t already have it, I and just about any power-user you’d consult will tell you that it’s a must-have for enabling or disabling certain advanced XP Interface options, including the My Places area– which is the area in the left of the Open / Save dialog which by default shows My Recent Documents, Desktop, My Documents, My Computer, and My Network Places.

By customizing My Places, you can grant yourself a potentially greater ease of use by putting what locations you prefer to have only one-click away from clicking File > Save, or File > Open. Since I discovered this Tweak UI function, I have indeed found it to cut down on the time it takes to find a file, or find a desired location for saving a modified file. If you’re one of those who find the Microsoft default My Places locations to be counter-intuitive, then go get TweakUI (link above is anchored directly to the setup file download location) and look under Common Dialogs > Places Bar and select the 3rd radio-button choice to enable custom selections. Several locations are available in the drop-down menu, but if the location that you prefer is not there, simply type the full path there (or do as i did and copy / paste it from Windows Explorer’s Address Bar), and wha-la… you’ve got new Places!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little Tip, and that you’ve found it to help you get around more efficiently in Windows XP!