I got another new computer a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been too busy until recently to actually set it up. The new machine has an Intel Core 2 Quad processor that we’ve overclocked to about 2.8 GHz. 8 gigabytes of RAM and two one-terabyte disk drives. I’ll be stressing that machine pretty soon with the work I’m doing.
I originally put Windows XP 64 bit edition on the machine, but after giving it some thought I decided to go with Vista 64 Ultimate. I had considered Vista last March when I got the dual core machine, but time pressure made installing XP the better choice. Besides, I don’t like being an early adopter on my production machines. But Vista has been out for a year now (more than that, when you consider the open beta), and once you get past all the bitching about how it’s different and breaks stuff, it turns out that it’s better than XP. Certainly the move from XP to Vista doesn’t seem as shocking to me as the move from Windows 2000 to XP was.
The most annoying part isn’t even the new OS, but rather installing my old applications. You don’t realize how much you’ve come to depend on some things until they’re not around anymore. Tracking down and installing all my old software is going to take some time.
In any case, last night I went looking for Vista PowerToys, hoping that somebody had ported the Windows XP PowerToys (which never got ported to 64 bit) to Vista 64. The one I was most interested in is the “Open Command Window Here” tool that adds an item to the context menu of file system folders, giving you a quick way to open a command prompt in that directory.
It turns out that such a thing is built in to Vista, albeit hidden for some strange reason. If you hold down the Shift key and right-click on a folder in Windows Explorer, you’ll see the option in the context menu: Open Command Window Here. This is implemented very well in Vista, and will even silently map a network drive if the folder you click on is located on another machine. Curiously, this only works if you click on the folder in the right-hand pane of Explorer (the list pane?). If you hold down Shift and right-click on a folder in the folders pane, you get a completely different menu.
The hidden context menu has another very useful feature: Copy as Path. If you click on that option, the full path name of the directory is copied to the clipboard as a quoted string. That’s quite handy. I can’t count the times I’ve had to copy/paste from the address bar to get the path, and then copy/paste from the list pane to get the file name. Having it all in one place is going to save me a lot of time.
It strikes me as odd, though, that these options are hidden unless you press the Shift key when you click on the item. Why weren’t they just added to the standard context menu?