Windows Explorer and that Green Bar

You might run in to this annoyance in newer versions of Windows: you open a My Computer or Windows Explorer window, then navigate to a folder. But Explorer becomes unresponsive, and a green bar slowly makes its way across the address bar:

explorer_green_bar

(image via TechSpot)

The green bar might take anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of hours to complete its journey across the address bar, and Explorer won’t respond until it does.

What gives?

It’s a design decision made by Microsoft. Windows wants to “customize” folders which are predominantly populated by one type of file. So if you have a folder full of MP3s, Windows will read the metadata from each one and display the artist, song name, album name, etc. of each file, along with the file name. Or the dimensions of photographs and videos. It’s a bunch of information that’s sometimes helpful for most folks, but only rarely. And when you have a folder full of 11,000 pictures or 3,000 MP3s, it’s going to take Windows a long time to read all that data, which is why Explorer becomes unresponsive,

The worst thing is, it seems to happen at random. I have a downloads folder (not the official “Downloads” folder, but a different one I created). 99% of the time, Explorer will cheerfully open that folder with no problem. But sometimes – like, once every 4-6 months or so – it will choke, and I’ll get the green bar.

The fastest way to “fix” this is to open Task Manager (CTRL+SHIFT+ESC), end the EXPLORER.EXE process, and then click File > New Task, type EXPLORER.EXE and press ENTER. This restarts the shell and fixes the problem 99% of the time.

But for a more permanent fix, you need to turn off customization for that folder. In Explorer, right-click the problematic folder and choose “Properties”. Click the “Customize” tab and look for the “Optimize this folder for:” drop-down box near the top of the window. Change the setting from “Music”, “Videos”, “Documents”, or “Pictures” to “General Items”. Make sure the “Also apply this template to all subfolders” box is checked, then click “OK”.

You may revert back at any time by repeating the process and changing it back to ”Music”, “Videos”, “Documents”, or “Pictures”.

Quotes of the Day

American political commentator and humorist P. J. O’Rourke is one of my all-time favorite authors. I’m sure I’ve posted some of his quotes before, but here are many more to enjoy:

“Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”

“There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.”

“When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”

pjcigar

“Seriousness is stupidity sent to college.”

“Feeling good about government is like looking on the bright side of any catastrophe. When you quit looking on the bright side, the catastrophe is still there.”

“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”

“The good news is that, according to the Obama administration, the rich will pay for everything. The bad news is that, according to the Obama administration, you’re rich.”

“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.”

“Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.”

“The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors — psychology, sociology, women’s studies — to prove that nothing is anybody’s fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you’d have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that
advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view.”

“The whole idea of our government is this: If enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it.”

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Killing All Chrome Processes

Chrome has (what’s supposed to be) a nifty feature under the hood: each tab runs as its own Windows process. This means – in theory – that if one tab were to crash, it won’t take down the rest of your open tabs. You should – in theory – be able to close the misbehaving tab and go on about your business.

But what happens when Chrome itself stops responding? You could try using the “X” (close) button in the upper right corner of the Chrome window, or you could try CTRL+SHIFT+Q to exit Chrome. But what if Chrome doesn’t respond to mouse clicks or keyboard sequences? You could always open Task Manager and kill the Chrome processes… but remember, each tab is its own process. If you have 30+ tabs open, your Task Manager will probably look like this:

chrome_task_manger

Do you HAVE to right-click on each process and choose “End Process”?

Of course not… if you’re using Windows XP, Vista or 7. Just open a command prompt and type the following:

TASKKILL /IM chrome.exe /F

Taskkill, which is built in to Windows, does exactly what it says on the tin: kills any process you want. The /IM switch tells Taskkill to use “image name” (or process name) instead of the numerical “process ID”. The /F switch tells Taskkill to kill all instances of the image name. By the way, Taskkill works on any Windows process, not just Chrome. You can use it to kill all instances of IEXPLORE.EXE or FIREFOX.EXE or WINWORD.EXE… or anything else you need killed. Just change “chrome.exe” to whatever process you want.

Outlook and 0x8004010F Errors

I recently decided to move my Documents folder from Windows 7′s default location to a cloud storage provider. So what had been:

c:\users\jim\documents

was now

c:\users\jim\dropbox\documents

When I opened Outlook, I was told that my default PST file could not be located. This wasn’t totally unexpected. but it was still kinda surprising. The user’s %DOCUMENTS% folder is stored as a variable in Windows, and software is supposed to request the %DOCUMENTS% folder, rather than an absolute path like c:\users\user\documents. This is so that If you move the folder to a server or a different partition, third-party software won’t freak out and say that it couldn’t find the folder. And It would seem that Microsoft isn’t following its own guidelines!

But anyway… no big deal, right? I clicked in the “Browse” dialog box and found the PST at the new location. Problem solved, right? Well, no. Everything seemed OK: I could send and receive email, RSS feeds and tweets – but the send\receive operation would return a 0x8004010F error:

outlook_0x8004010f

This means that the PST file could not be located… even though Outlook in all other respects seemed to be working normally.

So… how to fix? Well, you have to create a new (temporary) PST, and tell Outlook to deliver mail there, then change the delivery location back to the original (moved) PST.

Step-by-step instructions for Outlook 2010 follow:

1) Click File > Account Settings > Account Settings.

2) Select the first email account on the list, then click “Change Folder”.

3) Click “New Outlook Data File”.

4) Create a new data file. This can be any name you like, in any location you’d like.

5) In the new PST, click the + to expand the folder tree, choose “Inbox”, and then click “OK”.

6) Click “Change Folder” again, and navigate to the original PST file in the new location. Click the + to expand the folder tree, choose “Inbox”, and then click “OK”.

7) Repeat the process for any additional email accounts.

8) Close the Account Settings window. You might want to also close Outlook and delete the temporary PST file you created in steps 3-4.