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How to restore file tooltip popups in Windows 7

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150320-164842

Having finally been forced to use Windows 7 on my computer at work I was faced with the loss of a couple of handy features which I’d become accustomed to in Windows XP.

One such problem concerned the apparent inability to show more than the barest of information in the little popup you get when you hover your mouse cursor over a file in Windows Explorer in Windows 7.

InfoTip balloon in Windows XP Actually that’s only partially true - it still works for local files (e.g. files on your own hard drive) but for files viewed on a network drive - whether mapped to drive letters of not - you only see the file type, last modified date, and it’s size, none of which is really worth the effort of showing the InfoTip in the first place (you can turn the feature off in folder options).

However it IS possible to get all of the extra information that might be stored in the File Properties (e.g. the document title, subject, and comment) by making a simple change to the registry. Here’s an example of how it looks in Windows 7 - you can see there how useful it is to show more information than you can easily display in the columns to the right:

InfoTip balloon in Windows 7 Note that you must have administrative rights to the computer you’re working on in order to make this change.

WARNING! It is also assumed that you are familiar with the Windows Registry and are happy about taking the risk that you could seriously screw your day up if you do something wrong in there. If not then stop right here and go fetch someone who is. For this reason the instructions below are written with less detail than I would normally provide.

If you’re not confident about doing this then please stop right here!

Otherwise, here’s how to do it:

1) Click on the windows button (normally at the bottom left of your screen) and then type “regedit” in the “Search programs and files” box, then hit return.

2) RIGHT click once on the regedit.exe file you should see in the box above the search box and choose “Run as administrator”. REMEMBER - don’t try this unless you know you have administrative rights to the computer - if you know you can install new programs, then you’re probably going to be ok - if not, then you’ll probably be wasting your time doing what comes next because Regedit won’t let you save your changes after all your efforts.

3) Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREClasses* and add the following to the end of the existing values in both InfoTip and QuickTip:

;System.Title;System.Subject;System.Comment

Type (or copy and paste) everything in blue - don’t forget the semi-colon at  the beginning of the line as that’s the “follow on” from the entries which you’ll already find there.

The reason you need to change it in both keys is that Windows will prioritise “QuickTip” over “InfoTip” when you hover over a network file. Microsoft did that in case you are viewing files over a slow network connection, so it’s useful to know you can make that little tweak if your computer slows to a crawl trying to display the popup information.

In some cases (for local files) I also needed to change the InfoTip value in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTSystemFileAssociations - for instance, for my Word docs (my VBA only generates 2003 versions of Excel and Word files) I needed to make the same change to the InfoTip in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTSystemFileAssociations.doc

4) Close regedit.

It should be enough, at this point, to simply close and re-open Windows Explorer in order to see the effect of your changes, or you might want to log off and back on to Windows just to make sure.

My other problem (I’m sure I’ll find more - I won’t even mention my hatred of ribbon menus) is the sad loss of the Folder Description column I could add which allowed me to add a comment to a folder using a truly excellent program called HobComment. While this may still work for 32-bit versions of Windows it certainly doesn’t in 64-bit editions but, fortunately, all is not lost!

Folder comments in Windows XP

In my case I still have my old Windows XP PC connected to the network so I simply access this via RealVNC and add my comments there. Displaying the folder description in a column in Windows 7 is actually a piece of cake - simply right click on the column headings in Windows Explorer and add “Comments” column :) Curiously that trick DOESN’T work in XP, but who cares? Here’s how I’ve got it looking in Windows 7:

Folder comments in Windows 7In case you don’t have an XP machine which you can use to add your folder comments then all is not lost because you can run XP on your Windows 7 computer in order to run old programs like HobComment, by using Microsoft’s very own Windows Virtual PC. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m sure it will work.

 

Happy computing!

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Thank you.

Support our caregiving

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.