xplorer² Quick Start Guide
File exploring reinvented: Feel like home miles away from home

[PRO] Scrap containers

What are they? What do they do? Why do I need them? These and other questions are bound to occur to users since scraps are such a novel concept. But soon you'll appreciate their flexibility and discover many ways to put them in good use.

Figure 8. A scrap container window

These windows look very similar to the main window and support nearly all commands and operations available in "normal" windows where you browse a single folder at a time. The difference is that in these containers you can see contents of multiple folders in a single pane (notice the Path column in figure 8), even collections of hand-picked items ("scraps").

The only noticeable difference in terms of appearance is the lack of a folder tree pane, which doesn't make much sense for the multi-folder context of scrap containers. Other than that it is mostly similarities: a quick preview pane, toolbar capable of command execution, the same status bar, a menu bar with the same commands (even some additional ones!), etc. All the file management operations, including filtering, selection, drag-drop, shell context menu etc are available, too.

You can have as many of these special windows open as you wish; just use Window | Scrap container to open a fresh one. Also many commands may create a scrap window if one doesn't exist, like Send to scrap and Browse flat (File menu). Tools | Find files command will also open a scrap window for its results.

When you place items in scrap containers, their actual disk location remains unchanged. Think of the Find Files command in windows explorer; the matching files are placed in a results window and they may come from all over the namespace. Scrap containers are similar, only you control what gets into them. There are many ways to add items in a scrap window:

Once you have some items in a scrap container, you can work with them like as if they were in a single folder, using the same palette of previewing and file management commands. For example when you Edit | Copy selected items they will be available for Paste-ing to other windows. Even if the selected items come from different folders, the paste will place them in a single target folder - unless Edit | Paste special | Structured scrap clips command is used.

NOTE: Scrap containers accept items from both filesystem and "virtual" folders. This may create confusion in terms of column information; that's why only stock and filesystem columns are available in these multi-folder windows.

You can remove items pressing <Delete>; this will just remove them from the window without affecting the actual files on disk. If you want to delete the files themselves then use <Ctrl+Delete> or File | Delete command.

Although you can work with items in scrap containers, sometimes you need to open the folder that contains the item in a normal xplorer² window. Use <Ctrl+Enter> key or right click on the item and pick Open file location command from the menu.

Scrap containers have some unique commands too, not available in normal browser windows. You can check for duplicate files and compare the content of folder hierarchies. They also underwrite the functionality of the Tools | Find files command, as already mentioned.

Shell "documents"

The term "scrap" suggests something fleeting and impermanent, and indeed these containers were originally conceived as quick-and-dirty temporary holders of items, which would be discarded as soon as some simple file operation was performed on them. However, it was soon realized that there was another possible use mode: saving scrap contents for future use.

Actions | Write contents creates a file with .cida extension and writes location information for all the items in a scrap pane. You can reopen such saved files at a later time and restore the scrap container, just like as if it was a shell document. xplorer² registers .cida files for its own use so you can open them by merely double-clicking on them even when xplorer² isn't running.

You can take advantage of this functionality in many ways. For instance you can create cida files as "table of contents" that keep the locations of files with similar content throughout your filesystem. This would be equivalent to creating a normal folder and keeping shortcuts to the same documents, but if you go the scrap way you have direct view of the actual files.

NOTE: We stress that only the location of the files is stored in .cida files, not the files themselves. If you delete or move the actual file, xplorer² will not be able to reload it when reading the .cida file. When such errors occur you can optionally see a log of all missing files that may help a subsequent manual repair.

Normally you will be reusing cida files on a single computer to access a set of related files. If you want to access the same files from a different PC you must save some extra information to make the cida file location-independent; that is the purpose of "UNC pidl files" type in Save as type drop-down box, as in this snapshot:

Figure 8a. PC-independent cida
The flat earth view

Another nifty trick is browsing the contents of a folder and all its subfolders in a single scrap window. There are a number of ways of "flattening" a folder (or .cida file):

Such flat views are useful when you want to operate on items recursively, for instance change file attributes, create printer-ready listings using Edit | Copy columns, execute a command on each file, and generally whenever you want a flat overview of a folder's contents. We are sure you'll discover many more uses yourselves!

Mini scrap manage bookmarks and launch programs

It can be argued that in some situations it will be more convenient to have a scrap pane (virtual folder, drop box, "playlist", multi-folder view or however you want to call it) within the main xplorer² window, rather than opening a separate scrap container. This functionality is furnished by View | Mini scrap menu command.

There is only one such pane available per window, but it is quite versatile. It is almost identical in functionality to a stand-alone scrap container: you can put in it files and folders from many locations, you can select view modes, sort orders, even arrange the content in groups. Most of the menu commands are available too, including load/save through the background context menu. Here are a few possible uses:

If you save the contents of a mini-scrap (using the context menu or <ctrl+S>) it will automatically reload the cida file when you next open the pane; this makes its use as a bookmark pane very attractive and convenient. You can access a number of recently used "playlists" too through the context menu. An alternative is to right-drag a stored CIDA file and drop it onto the mini-scrap, picking Browse flat from the context menu.

NOTE: To stop the mini scrap reloading the last document on startup, empty its content before you close it, e.g. select all and then hit <Del>.

Managing Contents Maintenance

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