[xplorer˛] — Default directory association
home » blog » 11 January 2009

As we've seen in windows each file type has a default association in the registry, a program that is used to open the document when you double click on its icon. Filesystem folders are also considered documents and by default they open with windows explorer. You won't change the folder association easily to a different program, at least not through control panel (notice how most buttons are disabled in folder options applet).

For many versions I resisted the pressure to make xplorer˛ the default folder application, but in the end with version 1.72 there is an option to replace windows explorer if you tick the relevant checkbox during the installation process. I don't understand the need for this tweak as I do all my file management through xplorer˛. It has so many ways to find folders quickly with breadcrumbs, bookmarks etc that I keep it open all the time and open all folders from within it.

But it takes all sorts to make a world and some users find such system integration to their liking, e.g. using Start > Run to open folders or some other program launcher; such people will like the new filesystem folder association with xplorer˛. The process is simple: tick the installer checkbox to make xplorer˛ default for your folders, and uninstall it to remove the association, restoring windows explorer. Here are a few clarifications:

UPDATE: the registration procedure has changed with xplorer˛ v1.8. The old open_x2 verb is now called open. It's best you used the installer to handle all the default folder associations rather than hacking the registry yourself!

  • Only filesystem folders are associated.
    xplorer˛ can read virtual folders but cannot be started automatically when you click on "My Computer" due to a technicality (DDE conversation). Most other folders are taken over.
  • A single pane xplorer˛ opens when you click on a folder.
    This way it feels more like windows explorer. Under the hood the installer adds an "action verb" for folders called open_x2open and uses command line switches to open it in single pane mode. To minimize interference with your normal xplorer˛ window, a special layout x2solo is used too. If you don't like this behaviour and you want to use the same kind of window in all cases, fire up regedit and remove /1 /T and /S:x2solo options from the definition of HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\directory\shell\open\command as in this snapshot . If you want to reuse an open xplorer˛ window have a look at bSingleWindow registry tweak in registry.txt
  • I don't like xplorer˛ opening folders like that.
    If you change your mind and wish to have windows explorer back, the simplest solution is to uninstall xplorer˛ then reinstall it without ticking the folder association checkbox. Alternatively use this registry script to keep open_x2 without having it the default verb. This script has to run in administrator mode; if you are logged as a normal user, use run as to start an elevated xplorer˛ and double click on the REG file from within it.

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Addendum: Nowadays you can easily select using a single window or a separate x2solo layout for your folders when you activate the explorer replacement mode during installation using a checkbox . If ticked, you get a separate 1-pane window; if cleared (recommended!) you have the same xplorer˛ window for all actions.
To undo this mode and restore windows explorer for your folders, you needn't uninstall xplorer˛ just use the button for this task in Tools > Options > Advanced



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