Tip o’ the Week 464 – Previewing PDFs

If you spend time handling files in Windows Explorer (or File Explorer, as its now called), you’ll likely be famclip_image002iliar with the various options for clip_image004tweaking the views that you’re presented with.

If dealing with photos, particularly, it’s great to show extra-large icons clip_image006and switch on the Details pane, which will give you additional stats about any one file if you click on it – even if some of the data points are somewhat lost on a point & shoot phone camera user.

But when dealing with many pictures where you could be looking for subtle differences in multiple similar files, or if browsing documents that you want to quickly identify without having to open them all up, the Preview Pane becomes very useful.

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It’s especially so if you resize it to be more like 50% the window width, when you may want to read the first chunk of a document rather than just see its general shape.

clip_image010Windows 10, however, doesn’t have a built-in handler to preview PDF files, so you’re forced to open them up one-at-a-time unless you install some software…

Even if you like using the default PDF viewing facility in Edge browser (or favour some other reader): in order to preview within Explorer, you’ll need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed, though it doesn’t have to be the default app to handle PDFs.

  • Start by going to https://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/ and clicking the big Install now button, having first decided if you want to allow the other guff that the publisher suggests you might wish to enjoy as well
  • clip_image012At the end of installation, you get to choose whether to have Acrobat as your default PDF app, and if you wish to stop it nagging you should you decide “No”.
  • Now launch the Acrobat Reader, and it will show you an empty list of previously opened files. Go to the Edit clip_image014| Preferences menu, and under the General settings group, choose Enable PDF thumbnail previews … and after a brief spot of installing another component…
  • Et voila!
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Tip o’ the Week #286 – Windows Explorer tweaks in Win10

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Here’s a quick tip on navigating around Windows 10, courtesy of Stuart Leeks, concerning the File Explorer app (now, thanks to Internet Explorer being moved to the background in favour of the Microsoft Edge browser, maybe the name Explorer will be primarily known again as way to get to the file system).

The simplest way of getting the File Explorer running is either to click clip_image004on the icon that’s pinned to the taskbar by default, or else simply press the WindowsKey+e. Out of the box, you’ll see a couple of changes to simplify File Explorer when compared to Windows 8, namely to show recent files and folders and the Quick Access pane, as the main display of the Explorer window, rather than clip_image006just showing a list of drive letters or network locations.

If you prefer going back to seeing “My PC” as the default, click on the View menu > Options > Change folder and search options, and modify that behaviour. Quick Access is new in Windows 10, and replaces the previous Win8.x Explorer’s Favorites section.

The original feature that Stuart referredclip_image008 to has been found to partially exist in Windows 8.1 too, so maybe it’s a bit of a hidden gem – when in File Explorer, if you press ALT+d, the cursor & focus jumps to the address bar and you clip_image010can start typing the name of key folders and recent files, and you’ll see the name show up in autocomplete – so to get to Downloads, just start typing down and then with a single press of the down cursor key then enter, you’ll jump straight there. This may seem trivial but to hardened keyboardistas, any reason to not use the mouse without getting too obscure, is a good one.

clip_image012If you still like using the pointing doodah, you can click on the caret to the side of the icon that shows whatever folder you’re in (and it will change as you move around), and you’ll get a short cut menu that also includes regularly used folders.

clip_image014Another neat one, for some at least, is that if you select a folder within Explorer, and go to the File Menu, you’ll get the option of launching a command prompt or PowerShell window with the focus directly on that folder

Tip o’ the Week #242 – File favourites and Explorer

clip_image002Office365 offers a great way of hosting documents in the cloud, using SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business (which is really SharePoint under the hood) as its publicly facing storage offerings.

Office apps themselves are well versed in supporting SharePoint as a location to open and save stuff to, however other clip_image004apps – and websites – are not always so supportive.

If you’re lucky, applications will offer you a newer file dialog box >> which at least lets you navigate to shortcuts that can take you to your fave places – even good ol’ Notepad lets you pick from a Favo(u)rites list, and can access other groups of links to your PC or the network to which you’re connected.clip_image006

You could choose to disable the “OneDrive” tree from this file chooser (see the instructions, here). It’s a pity that OneDrive for Business – where you should be storing all your work-related files, vs OneDrive for your own personal stuff – can’t be exposed as an expanding tree. Oh well, there’s always Threshold

Well, if you want to make your favourite SharePoint sites show up in file dialog boxes, there are a few simple steps you can take…

  • clip_image010Navigate to your SharePoint library of choice in the browser, then click on the library tab, then on the Ribbon clip_image008which appears, click Open with Explorer… which will open said SharePoint library as if it was just another file share using Windows Explorer.

    Now, the road is rocky here if you are not using a domain-joined PC to access the library – for Windows to authenticate you automatically to open a library in Explorer, if you’re on a home PC, you may need to make sure you’ve appropriate saved the password (clicked Remember Me in authentication dialogs, even though they rarely do, etc).

    clip_image012It’s also worth adding the website to your intranet sites if you’re on a non-corporate machine – in the desktop Internet Explorer, first copy the site URL to the clipboard, then go into Tools | Internet Options (by pressing the ALT key to show the menu bar) and add the site to your Intranet zone by clicking the Sites button, then the Advanced button, to paste and include this site in your Intranet zone. You don’t need to do this is on a corporate, domain-joined PC.

  • clip_image014Now, once you have the requisite Explorer window showing you the contents of the SharePoint site (just click on the address bar if you’re in any doubt as to clip_image016whether it’s coming from SharePoint or not), then try right-clicking the Favorites menu in Explorer and adding the current location to Favorites. Now, it’ll show up in the list and can be renamed by right-clicking it, perhaps giving it a more uniquely identifiable name than “Shared Documents”, for example.
    Once you’ve created the shortcut in your Favorites, you could try jumping to your preferred text editor (or paint program, sound recorder etc) and try to open or save something – you should see your newly-created shortcut showing up.

There are numerous other ways of getting your favourite sites to appear in common-or-garden dialog boxes; from the library tab as above, you can choose to Sync SharePoint sites (and they’ll all show up under the SharePoint favourite), or if you copy the clip_image018URL/UNC to the clipboard, it can then be added to clip_image020Network Locations by right-clicking on This PC within Windows Explorer and choosing Add Network Location to make the link show up in that group of shortcuts.

Even the oldest binary apps and websites tend to support a file picker that will let you choose from This PC, and you should be able to navigate down to your new Network Location shortcut.

All of these tips are relatively self-explanatory for tech savvy folk like Microsofties – even if relying on old-fashioned style Explorer shortcuts might seem a little backward. If you’re helping to set up Office365 for a family member to use, however, this kind of short-cuttery could make the transition much smoother, and could be the difference between you getting asked numerous times how to save files, or being left blissfully alone.