More Cool Directory Opus Features

A huge number of Directory Opus's cool features are already mentioned in the tour of the interface. This page zooms in on cool features we haven't yet discussed.

Non-Standard Shortcuts
Please note that the instructions on this page mention non-standard keyboard shortcuts and menu items, such as F12 for "Preferences", because the page assumes you have installed the toolbars from my page about setting up the Dear Opus interface.

Please see the keyboard shortcuts page for a beautifully organized list of shortcuts.

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For easy navigation, here are some jumping points to the features on the page:

Zooming in on File Display Text and Thumbnails
Finding Files the Easy Way
Zip Files in Opus—ISO and other Archives
File Transfer Queues (Jobs Bar)
Running Directory Opus from a USB Stick
The Standalone Picture Viewer
More Dopus Features I Love
Conditional Toolbars: Toolbars that Appear Depending on Context
Conditional Buttons
More Cool Features

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Zooming in on File Display Text and Thumbnails

I've already mentioned this during the tour of the interface, but this feature is so useful that it bears repeating. With your mouse over one of the file displays, press the Ctrl key and move the mouse wheel: this will magnify or shrink the text and thumbnails in the file display.

As in many programs, can also also zoom in with Ctrl-Plus, zoom out with Ctrl-Minus, and go back to the default zoom size with Ctrl-0. These three shortcuts affect both sides of a dual lister.

As a slightly more advanced level, you can also control zooming by creating custom buttons. For instance, after you've read the section on commands, create a button with the command "Set FONTSCALE=100,125,both" to toggle both displays of a dual lister between two zoom levels (100 percent and 125 percent). In fact, that is one of the secrets of Huge Mode.

Huge Mode
"Huge Mode" is a shortcut I made so I can control Opus from the couch, far away from the monitor, and still read the names of music files or videos. The shortcut (which lives in the toolbars) is Ctrl + Alt + H. Give it a try!

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Finding Files the Easy Way

Instead of searching, try filtering in flat view.
Do you want to find all AVI files in any subfolder of your desktop? Sure, you could use the search box (which rides on the Windows Search function, and which I have removed from my toolbars); you could use a third-party indexing program such as the wonderful "Search Everything"; or you could use Opus's powerful built-in search function, accessible through F3 or Ctrl + F.

opus filterBut for me, it seems a lot faster (and cleaner) to click the Flat View Button then to type .avi in the filter bar that we set up a moment ago right below the file display. It's as easy as that. Actually, it's even easier: instead of typing, you can click the filter's pull-down menu and check the AVI box.

The little blue filter icon lets you toggle the filter on and off.

Power Searches
Opus has an amazingly powerful search function, which you summon by hitting F3 or Ctrl + F. This opens a search dialog box inside of what Opus calls the "Utility Panel". There are two tabs: "Simple" and "Advanced". If you understand a couple of key things about the Opus search box, you will have a great time with it.

opus find The first thing is that in the top-left box, you need to tell Opus which folders to include in the search. The second thing is that at the top right, a few settings determine how the search will work. Search results go into a file collection (these collections live at the top of the folder tree). In the pull-down, you tell the search engine the collection where it will store the results. By default, that collection is "Find Results". But you can point the results to any collection that you have already created (in this image, the results go into the Large Files collection). In the check boxes, you have three important selections to make. Typically, you will want to check the "Clear previous results" box. This means that when you search again, the previous contents of Find Results (or whichever collection you've specified) get overwritten, so that you don't have to deal with a clutter of previous results. Typically, you will also want to search inside subfolders (the second checkbox). The third checkbox lets you search inside archives (such as zip file) if you want.

If you happen to be doing some kind of forensic search, looking for files all over computer over a period of time, it's really convenient to be able to uncheck the "Clear previous results" box. You can run multiple searches with different keywords and slowly build up your search results. In such cases, it is particularly convenient to target a file collection dedicated to your search.

Let's now talk about the tabs. The "Simple" tab is simple enough (as is the "Advanced" tab), but it makes me smile because it is already at a level that most other programs would call advanced. You can specify words to find in the file name or inside the file itself, and various pull-down menus let you tweak parameters such as type, size and date. Wildcards are allowed.

In the Advanced tab, you can build structured searches to your heart's content, clicking the plus buttons to add a series of filters, using an intuitive series of pull-down parameters. If that's your lingo, you can use regular expressions in the text fields (be sure to check out my A-Awesome regular expressions tutorial). As an example of a simple search in this mode, you could look for files that contain the word "Hendrix" (inside the files, not in the file name) but not the word "guitar". Advanced searches can use metadata: for instance, you can look for mp3 files in the world music genre with a bit rate larger than 256kbps, or images above a certain pixel width.

When you build an advanced search, you can save the search filter, then reuse it in a later search by clicking the "Filter" pull-down menu. To edit or delete a filter, click the Prefs button (F12) and navigate to File Operations / Filters.

Integrating Opus with Everything Search
For those who use the ultra-fast file indexer called Everything Search, there is a way to display the results of Everything searches in an Opus file collection. (In my mind, as of Windows 7, there is no longer a need for this.) This is a mod offered by a forum member who goes by the nickname apocalypse. In short, you keep your existing installation of Everything. You download an archive by apocalypse. It contains SearchEverything.exe (not to be confused with Everything.exe, the original program), which you move into your Everything program folder. Then you make a button by copying code supplied by Apocalypse and pasting it in the toolbar in Customize mode. In the button, you may need to edit the path to your Everything folder. It's slower than the original Everything, but it works, and once the files are in an Opus collection, all the Opus functions are at your fingertips. See the forum post for the latest files and instructions.

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Zip Files in Opus—ISO and other Archives

In versions 10 and 11, I find that Opus handles archive files beautifully. An archive file (such as a zip, rar or 7z file) is a package that contains other files, right? For navigation purposes, you can therefore treat an archive file as a folder. archive And that's exactly what Opus does. Instead of extracting files out of archives, you just drag and drop as you do between other folders.

Directory Opus handles an impressive range of archive files. Among these, I'm particularly excited that it handles ISO files. This means that to access the content of an ISO, you no longer need to mount it in Alcohol or Daemon Tools. Instead, you navigate the contents of the ISO as you would for a regular folder.

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File Transfer Queues (Jobs Bar)

If you often copy and move large sets of files, you will love copy queues and the Jobs Bar.

Copy queue. You've probably run into a situation where you need to copy many files from many folders into one new place. You select some files, copy, then paste. While the copy operation is in progress, you select the next batch of files, copy, paste again. If you repeat this sequence a number of times, you'll have several paste operations running in parallel, a recipe for crashing your system. But with Opus, you don't need to worry about that, because the program queues copy operations that target the same destination. When the first group of files has been copied, Opus moves on to the next. You can also abort jobs or move them up and down in the queue. If you have a long operation that might need to run for a few hours, you can check the "Unattended operation" box and choose "Treat as an error" for when files already exist. When you return to your machine, you can review the errors in the log and decide how to handle them.

Pausing Copy operations. Sometimes you launch a massive copy operation that brings your machine to a near halt, and right in the middle of it you realize that you really need to run another task. Why, then, just click the pause button on the Opus copy dialog box.

Jobs Bars (and how to set them up)
Sometimes you launch several copy or move operations at once. Keeping track of those operations used to require digging in the transfer queue. In Directory Opus 11, below the status bar, a new "jobs bar" shows a button for each of the ongoing copy or move operations. When you click on the button, it opens the usual transfer queue with progress indicators.

jobs bar in directory opus 11

The jobs bar comes with settings that allow you to minimize the transfer queue by default, so that it doesn't get in the way. Also, you can remove the queue from the Windows taskbar, so that it doesn't interfere with Alt + F4.

To set all this up:
✱ Prefs / File Operations / Progress Indicators
✱ Check "Display the jobs bar automatically when starting a new job"
✱ Check "Prevent progress indicators from showing on the taskbar (or in Alt + Tab)"
✱ Check "Minimize progress indicators" and "Only when the jobs bar is visible"

For a nice "shell look" like on the picture, set the Jobs Bar to a monospace font such as Consolas in Prefs / Colors and Fonts / Fonts / Jobs Bar

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Running Directory Opus from a USB Stick

When I troubleshoot a friend's PC, one of the things I hate is having to deal with the standard Windows file explorer. I just get lost in there. Not only does it change with every new release of Windows, but everyone configures it differently. Just finding the desktop can be very frustrating.

export to usb So it's wonderful that I can just pop in a USB key, run Opus and see my favorite file manager, configured just the way I like it. Everytime I make a major change to my Opus layout, I export the installation to my stick again. The procedure is the same whether you are doing it for the first time or the hundredth time, and it only takes a minute. Note that this only works if you have paid ten dollars for a USB export license.

In the Prefs button's pull-down menu, select Backup and Restore, then check "Export to USB Flash Drive". As of Opus beta, you can install both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. For versions (released January 10 2012) and below, choose the 32-bit version as the 64-bit version won't run on your friend's 32-bit system, and click "Next" a few times. If Opus tells you that it is already installed on the drive, choose "Replace" in order to save the new settings.

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The Standalone Picture Viewer

On my machines, I like to have two programs to work with images: Photoshop and a light-weight viewer. The light-weight viewer is for pressing Enter on an image file, having it immediately pop up, and quickly browsing through an image folder with the Page Up and Page Down keys. For this purpose, I used Irfan View for many years, then I switched to XnView. opus standalone viewer Recently, as Photoshop gets faster and XnView gets bulkier, I have found that the Opus standalone viewer does everything I need my lightweight viewer to do. Here's how I like to configure it.

First, you need to tell Opus to use the Standalone Viewer by default. Click the Prefs button (or F12), select File Operations / Double-click on Files, check "Use internal viewer for all recognized pictures". Still in the Prefs menu, navigate to Viewer / Standalone Viewer. I check "Auto-size viewer window: Full screen", "Center viewer window", "Cycle through pictures with mouse wheel", "Generate Next/Previous list", "Recycle viewer window", "Reset zoom level for each picture to Fit to Page". Everything else is unchecked, particularly "Frame picture", because I change the Background color. For the background color, I enter these numbers: 89, 89, 89. These are very close to the ones Deke McClelland uses in his Photoshop tutorial, and they make a great all-around background for picture viewing. For the left mouse button setting, take "Select clipboard region" (if you select then copy and paste in a folder, you can create crops at top speed).

Here are the basics of how to use the viewer. When you double-click a picture, the viewer opens in full screen. Press Enter to exit full-screen mode if needed, press Escape to exit the viewer. To zoom in and out, you can use Ctrl-Plus and Ctrl-Minus. Page Down (or Page Up) go to the next (or previous) picture, Home and End go to the first and the last.

As of DO12, the image viewer is greatly enhanced. For instance, you now can:
✱ Customize the toolbar just like any other toolbar (Alt-click or right-click, Customize)
✱ Mark images as you page through them. The marked images are added to a collection. To mark or unmark an image, press M. To navigate between marked images, press Ctrl + Left/Right arrows instead of Page Up / Page Down.
✱ Edit metadata
mark images

Two tips:
✱ in full-screen mode, press F10 to see the file name
✱ you can rename the file by pressing the classic F2 rename shortcut

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More Dopus Features I Love

Here are some Opus features that I wasn't able to mention in the tour of the interface but that I love nevertheless.

Basic Renaming is actually Powerful. Renaming a file: What could be simpler? You select it insistently or press F2, then you change the name—isn't that all there is to it? You might never know it, but in Opus this basic function has hidden tricks up its sleeve. Once you've entered rename mode (by pressing F2 or clicking the name "insistently"),
⇒ Pressing the F2 key repeatedly will cycle between selecting the stem of the file name (everything before the dot), the extension, and the entire name.
⇒ Ctrl + U converts the name to UPPERCASE, Ctrl + L converts it to lowercase, Ctrl + W converts it to Word Case.
⇒ Ctrl + ⇑ and Ctrl + ⇓ access the history of names used for renames.

In Prefs, you can also control what happens when you press F2: which part of the file name gets selected, where the cursor appears, whether its position sticks when you move up and down between files.

For me, these subtle features (you might never even know they exist) are part of what puts Opus in a league of its own. There's always a wonderful little secret to discover.

Seeing folder sizes. When you're space-conscious or just like to understand what's on your hard drive, it's a treat to be able to see the size of your folders without having to right-click them then select "properties". Thank you for saving my wrists, Opus! To set that up, click the Prefs button (F12), select Folders / Folder Behavior, then check "Calculate Folder Sizes automatically for fixed local disks". If you use "soft links", you may want to check the "skip junctions and softlinks" box to speed up the lister by preventing it from getting bogged down in folder size calculations.

Copying File Paths. You probably remember that the Copy button has a "Copy Path" function that can come in quite handy. In that vein, a neat trick is that when you copy a file to the clipboard even outside of Opus, if you hit paste in the Opus address bar, Opus will paste the file's path.

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Conditional Toolbars: Toolbars that Appear Depending on Context

In DO10, you specified the toolbars you wanted to see, and theses were the toolbars you saw in all contexts—in all listers, view modes and paths.

In DO11, you can create sets of toolbars that get activated (replace the defaults) in certain contexts:
✱ when a certain lister is opened
✱ when a certain layout is activated
✱ when a certain view mode is used (e.g., when viewing thumbnails)
✱ when a certain folder format is activated
✱ when navigating to certain paths

I'm aware that my present coverage of this feature is quite weak. On the forum, there is a lot of excitement about this feature, and examples of what people are doing with it.

For my part, I am still pondering how to use it. The reason is that I feel that I am using a set of toolbars that already work exceptionally well in most contexts: see my tour of the Opus interface, which showcases my toolbars.

I will be following discussions about how people use the new feature and updating this section as my thinking evolves.

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Conditional Buttons

As of DO12, using a simple line at the top of the button's command, a button can either be hidden or grayed out unless a certain condition is met. For instance, on my toolbars, I have turned the "Image Convert" button into a conditional buttons that only appears if an image is selected.

To do so, all I had to do was to insert this line at the top of the button's code:


I'm sure there are many use cases for this feature. Please send your ideas through the comment form at the bottom.

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More Cool Features

As major versions come out, I make pages about their new features. I usually try to bring over the most important of these features into the main pages of the site, but I can't duplicate all the content.

Therefore, if you're hungry for little features I haven't yet mentioned, you might enjoy skimming these pages:

What's New in DO11
What's New in DO12

 Some great Opus tips & tricks

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