Time Saving Tuesday

How often do you open and save files on your computer? I’m sure that even the most casual users will do it several times throughout the day. Whether it be adding an attachment to an email, uploading a photo to a website, or simply saving a document you’ve been working on… opening and saving files is a part of our computer-driven lives.

Now the question of how to speed up the process comes into play. Most of the time spent opening or saving files is probably navigating through hierarchy of never ending folders on your computer that you’ve meant to cleanup for months. We’ve all been there, and luckily we have some excellent solutions for the Windows users out there!

–Vista Favorite Links–

First off Microsoft has made a valiant effort of addressing this problem in their latest Windows Vista operating system. When you go to open or save a file in Vista you’ll likely see a screen similar to this:

vista favorite links
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Along the left side I’ve highlighted a section labeled Favorite Links. The Favorite Links is designed to serve as bookmarks for the folders you use the most on your computer. Vista ships with common bookmarks to the desktop, documents, music, pictures, and more, but you can add or remove them as you please.

If you come across a folder that you want to add just drag it into the Favorite Links. The order for the shortcuts can be changed at any time simply by dragging and dropping them where you would like. And if you want to remove one of the shortcuts just right-click on it, and select the Remove Link option. Nice and simple… just the way I like it.

–Direct Folders (Homepage)–

This is actually the application that sparked us to write this article. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that a free version of Direct Folders emerged, and there has been quite a bit of buzz about it around the Internet. The free version will be more than enough for most of you, and it’s actually quite slick as to how it works. Once you have it installed just double-click with the left mouse button in an empty area of Windows Explorer (or an Open/Save dialog):

direct folders
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You should see a menu popup, and at first glance there isn’t much there. What you need to do is go through all of your favorite folders and add them to the list. You can do this by navigating to a folder that you want to add, double-clicking in an empty space with the left mouse button, and then choosing the Add here option.

The nice thing about this is that there are no buttons that clutter the interface, which is something many of you will appreciate. The one thing that I don’t like is that it’s sometimes a hassle to find an “empty space” to double-click.

–FileBox eXtender (Homepage)–

This is an open source project that I’ve used off and on again for the last few months. It has several advanced configuration options that power users will love, and even has a few features that almost any application will be able to benefit from.

This program works a little differently than the Direct Folders previously mentioned. FileBox eXtender adds a few buttons to the Titlebar of Windows Explorer and the dialogs. The folder icon with the heart is the one you want to look for because it’s where you can store your favorites:

filebox extender
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Next to the heart folder is another button with a clock, and that menu will contain folders that you’ve recently accessed through the open and save dialogs. That’s pretty smart since you’ll likely be pulling up the same folders over and over again.

There are two other icons you’ll see in other applications aside from just Windows Explorer:

  • The up arrow will roll up the current window collapsing it down to merely the Titlebar. It’s just like WinRoll.
  • The pin button will force a window to remain on top regardless of whether it is the window currently in focus.

Any of these buttons can be removed from the Titlebar by going through the configuration options, but it’s nice knowing that you’ll get some additional features that can be used outside of the Explorer windows.


Now we want to know about any tricks you use to make opening and saving files a speedy process. Drop off your tips in the comments below.