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Chapter 3. The User Interface > File Open/Save Dialogs

File Open/Save Dialogs

There’s a reason why File Open and File Save dialogs look the same in nearly all applications; they’re common dialogs, provided by Windows. Strangely, one of the few applications that doesn’t use these common dialogs is Microsoft Office, which instead employs custom dialogs that actually have more limited functionality then their standard, common counterparts.

The main part of the standard file dialog is really just a folder window as shown in Figure 3-8; you can even drag and drop items into and out of this window, as well as display the contents in the same Details, Icons, and List views found in Windows Explorer.

Figure 3-10. Standard File Open, File Save, and Browse dialogs like this one are used in many applications

Another standard component in file dialogs is the gray stripe on the left side, called the Places Bar. Here, five (or more) shortcuts to special system folders are shown; click an icon to quickly jump to the corresponding location. However, most of the default entries will be of little use to the average user, so you may want to customize this area, a task possible only with the TweakUI add-on described in Appendix D.

Along the top of the window, you’ll find the “Look in” list, and several buttons. The yellow folder icon with the curved arrow is used to jump to the parent folder, and the yellow folder icon with the star is used to create a new subfolder. The last button allows you to choose the way icons are shown in the main listing. Unfortunately, the full path of the current folder is not shown anywhere in this window (this has been a problem with Windows for years), but if you open the “Look in” list, you’ll see the abbreviated hierarchy that reveals the location of the folder.

You can type any filename below, including the full path desired, to open or save. Finally, the “Files of type” list is used to filter the display of files in the main listing. This is often most confusing part of this window for new users, since, in most cases, only certain files are shown. If the file you’re looking for does not match the file type selection, it won’t show up at all. Typically, the last entry in this list is All Files (*.*); choose this item to turn off the filter and display all files, regardless of type.



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