[xplorer˛] — Visual filters
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"A tempest will screen out bad captains"
(O kalos o kapetavios stn fourtouva faivetai)

Last week I had a trainee maiden (almost) voyage on a yacht round the coastline of UK where I nearly met my maker. We were battling force 8 (gale) winds and rain, quite a summer we're having. For a beginner it was an unsettling experience. Like being forced to learn assembly programming with a gun on your head. Boy I learnt fast :) and basically it was thanks to the experienced skipper we had that I can continue developing xplorer˛ :O Thank the gods there was no sight of pirates or wooden legs. That's all downwind now, back to the land-lubber brigade with secure, solid, dry ground underneath. Shiver me soul!

Talking about tricky situations, albeit not as life-threatening, don't you just hate it when a folder has a million files in it and you just can't seem to find the one you want? This is a common problem in large folders and xplorer˛ has a battery of commands to restrict the visibility of items, or Visual filters as they are called — you'll find them in View menu. Most of you will have heard about wildcards like *.txt which can be typed straight in the addressbar to show only files whose names match the template, e.g. text files in our example. (If you need a refresher course on wildcards see this older article).

xplorer˛ has some heavy artillery in the form of rule-based filters (<Alt+H> command), where you can customize the fine details of the matching template. But you've just come back sailing from a tempest and you can't be bothered with those complex hyperfilters, what else is there to do that's less taxing? Two things pop into mind:

  • Auto-filters. These are wildcards based on file type, but they are automatically filled in for you by xplorer˛. It checks what sorts of documents you have in your current folder and creates a list for you. Then you only have to select the type of files you want to see from this list.
  • Quick filters. Type a colon then (part of a) name in the addressbar and press <Shift+Enter> to weed out all non-matching filenames. This is like the quick filter in iTunes, but it is more powerful in that it searches for text in all columns, not just the filename (e.g. you can filter on dates). It has all the power of hyperfilters without the hassle. It can even search in file contents if you clear the relevant registry option.

The accompanying short demonstration will help you grasp the simple workings of these filtering commands. A pitfall you should be aware of: once you turn on a visual filter, it remains until you explicitly deactivate it using View | Show all command. If you're scratching your head where your files went, first check for a green filter icon on the statusbar!

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