Setting Up the Dear Opus Interface
This page gives you everything you need in order to set up the Dear Opus interface I've shown you in the tour of the Opus interface. It includes icons and menus that should install in a flash—and can be turned on or off in an instant if you're not sure you like them.
NavigationFor easy navigation, here are some jumping points to the features on the page:
✽ Setting up the
✽ New Icon Set for Directory Opus
✽ Turn on Alt-Clicking!!! (Editing the Toolbar 101)
✽ While Customizing Opus, Save your Layout Changes—Often
✽ Getting more out of your Tabs
✽ Customizing your File Display
✽ Filter Bar at the Bottom
✽ Highlight the Path to the Current Folder
✽ Perfecting your Images Style
✽ Perfecting your Music and Video Styles
Setting up the real Default Lister—the Happy PlaceIn the section just below, I will give you all the icons and toolbars. They're really easy to install.
Opus has its own idea of what "default" means.But before we do that, we need to set up what I call the "real default lister", or the Happy Place to which you can always escape by pressing the Happy Place button, or its shortcut Shift + F5. I've never managed to make the Opus "default lister" open by default in all possible launch conditions, so this is how I set mine up.
✱ Take some first steps to set up the layout that you'd like to load by default. Normally, that would mean choosing which tabs you want, setting up the columns you want to see, and so on. For now, don't worry about getting it perfect as we will customize your display at a later stage. The main thing now is to save a layout called "My Lister", which we're about to do.
✱ You're still using the standard menu toolbar, so until we install the new menus, I'll give you the commands you need from that toolbar. At the moment, select Settings / Save as Default Lister.
✱ Settings / Lister Layouts / Save this Lister. Enter this name: "My Lister". If you want your lister to work with the Happy Place button, you need to give the lister this exact name.
✱ Settings / Preferences / Launching Opus:
⇒"Default Lister": uncheck "Update Default Lister Automatically when closing a lister"
⇒"From the Desktop": select "Open a saved lister layout", select "My Lister" (or whatever you've called your lister), and check the "Close existing listers" box so your listers don't start breeding like rabbits.
⇒"From the Taskbar Icon": as above.
⇒"Startup": as above, except that there is no "close" option. Also check "Launch Directory Opus automatically on system startup".
✱ Critical: Settings / Preferences / Default Lister / uncheck "Update default lister automatically when closing a lister". Also uncheck the first box ("Ignore folder format of Default Lister").
Once you have done all this, navigate to some obscure sub-folder. Then double-click the desktop (the Windows desktop, not the desktop folder in Opus): your Opus layout should return to My Lister.
New Icon Set for Directory OpusYou are now ready to install my icon pack. I made two of the icons on Photoshop and picked the others on icon sites. Each of the icons I downloaded has a license that allows you to redistribute it for non-commercial use. Often, you have to credit the designer. The proper credits are included in the zip file.
Here are the installation steps.
✱ Download my Directory Opus Icon Pack.
✱ Extract to the desktop.
✱ Opus Preferences: Toolbars / Icons / click the Import icon at the top, navigate to asan_icons.dis on the desktop.
✱ Delete the icon files from the desktop or put them away somewhere.
You are now ready to install my buttons.
New Toolbars (and Buttons) for Optimized Opus InterfaceBefore you install my toolbars, make sure you have installed my icon pack in the section just above, otherwise the button icons will not display properly. Note that if you only want a few of the buttons, you can install the toolbars, then drag the buttons you want to your existing toolbars.
It's important to understand that these buttons do not simply replace the default Opus buttons. First there are cool new buttons, such as the Flat view button and the Checkbox button. Then, for existing buttons, the default behavior has often been improved (for my taste anyhow), as have the functions included in the pull-down menu. To get familiar with the buttons, make sure to take the tour of the interface.
Usually, Opus buttons are shared one by one. However, we have so many here that it is easier if I share my two toolbars. That way, you can activate the toolbars, and either keep them as they are (in which case you will turn off the original toolbars), or drag some of their buttons onto your old toolbars. Either way, this makes it really easy for you to try the interface as you can turn the toolbars on and off, and compare the inside of the menus with the old ones. Here are the steps.
Download these three files for Directory Opus 12:
✱ my Custom Folder Colors (colorgroups.oxc),
✱ my Menu Toolbar (Menu_playful_YYMMDD.dop),
✱ and my Operations Toolbar (Operations_playful_YYMMDD.dop).
✱ Legacy users: here is the last version ever released of my DO11 toolbars. ✱ Legacy users: here is the last version ever released of my DO10 toolbars.
✱ Open a dual lister. In the path bar (quick selection: F4), paste exactly this then press Enter:
✱ Move the custom color file (colorgroups.oxc) into the folder that just opened, replacing the original file. (If you defined custom colors for folder labels, you may want to rename your old file with a .bak extension).
✱ Open a dual lister. In the path bar (quick selection: F4), paste exactly this:
✱ Move the two toolbar files (Menu and Operations) into that folder (you will notice that it contains all the other toolbars).
✱ Right-click any place on your old toolbars and select Toolbars, then Menu_playful. Take this one first, otherwise you will need to rearrange the order.
✱ Right-click any place on your old toolbars and select Toolbars, then Operations_playful.
✱ At this stage, I right-click and turn off all three default toolbars: Location, Menu and Operations. Give that a try, you can always turn them back on.
✱ Important: right-click an empty space on any toolbar and pick Toolbars / "Set as Default Toolbars Set". Otherwise when you shift to a different lister, Opus will revert to the default toolbars. (In DO 11 and above, each lister can have its own set of toolbars.)
✱ Important tuning. As of Directory Opus 11, a toolbar's shortcuts can stay active even when the toolbar is turned off. By default, this feature is ON for the pre-installed default toolbars, so you need to go and turn that off, otherwise the default shortcuts will interfere with the beautiful shortcuts in the Menu_Playful and Operations_Playful toolbars. Alt-click an empty space on any toolbar to enter the Customize menu. Select the Toolbars tab. Click on the first toolbar at the top, but without checking its checkbox. At the bottom right, inspect the "Always enable this toolbar's keys in Listers" checkbox. Turn it off if needed. If not, press the down arrow to select the next toolbar—repeat the operation until you reach the bottom of the list. If you like, enable the feature for Menu_Playful and Operations_Playful.
3. That's it! High-five yourself.
Next, I will explain how to move buttons around if you need to, and we will look at customizing your file displays.
But first, I highly recommend you play a bit with all the buttons (and their pull-down menus) to get familiar with the new interface. Use the Tour of the Interface section as a reference.
If a shortcut key doesn't work, see the tips & tricks page for a quick fix to hotkey conflicts.
Turn on Alt-Clicking!!! (Editing the Toolbar 101)First things first. In the Preferences menu (F12), navigate to Toolbars / Options and make sure the box that says Alt-Click to Edit Toolbar buttons is checked. This makes it a lot easier to edit the toolbar. Try it! Alt-click any toolbar button. This opens a dialog that allows you to edit what that button does and looks like. Press the Escape key a couple of times: you are out of the edit mode.
Now Alt-click an empty space on the toolbar to see how editing works. When you Alt-click the toolbars, you enter what is known as "Customize mode". In this mode, you can:
✱ Move buttons by dragging them around.
✱ Delete buttons by right-clicking them and choosing Delete.
✱ Move toolbars around. Look at the very left of the toolbars: you will see "ribbed" handles. By grabbing them, you can move the toolbars up and down, or make them vertical.
✱ Resize spacers by dragging their outlines.
✱ Turn buttons into files that you can share. Try dragging a button to a folder: it turns into a file with a dcf extension. These dcf files make it easy to share buttons. You can drag dcf files from a folder straight onto the toolbar. This is the classic way of sharing Opus buttons. Instead, today you installed the toolbars in one go!
You are well on your way to having a killer Opus setup!
Tweaking Toolbar Colors and Fonts
If you'd like to play with the toolbars' colors and fonts, enter the Customize menu again (Alt-click a toolbar) and select the "Toolbars" tab. Now you can select toolbars on the left and edit their settings on the right.
While Customizing Opus, Save your Layout Changes—OftenAs you finish customizing your layout, you want to make sure that the changes you make "stick". If you are now working with my buttons and your default lister is called "My Lister", that's easy! Normally, you would need two operations in the Prefs menu: saving the lister as the Default Lister, then selecting "Save this Lister" to overwrite My Lister, with a few confirmation steps in between. But I made a special menu item at the bottom of the Prefs menu to perform both operations at once and without fuss.
Click the Prefs button's pull-down arrow, and select "My Lister: Default + Save". That's all! You could also use this keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + F5. Just watch out because the feature overwrites My Lister without asking you to confirm, and layout saves cannot be undone. So if you are not sure about overwriting My Lister, save the lister to a different name.
Click the Happy Place button (or press Shift + F5): your newly saved layout should pop up!
Getting more out of your TabsTabs are a killer feature of Opus. It takes a bit of tweaking to get them right, and there is more to them than meets the eye.
Tabs at the Top
The thing about tabbed navigation is that because of Firefox, many of us expect to see tabs near the top of a program's window. With tabs at the bottom (the Opus default), I don't even notice that tabs are there. (I tried it for two months.) To move your tabs to the top of the file display, hit the Prefs button (or F12), then select Folder tabs / Options / Display tabs at the top.
As of DO12 you can have your tabs displayed vertically. To activate this, play with tab position under Prefs panel / Folder Tabs / Options.
Coloring a Tab
One neat feature of DO12 is that you can right-click a tab to set a distinctive color, allowing you to recognize it immediately.
Cycling through Tabs
If you like to use the keyboard to navigate, you can cycle through tabs by pressing Ctrl and the left or right arrow. Conveniently, that is similar to another navigation shortcut, Shift + left and right arrows, which shifts the focus to the left (or top) and right (or bottom) lister. Shortcut freaks may also like to know that like in Firefox, Ctrl + Shift + T reopens the last closed tab.
Renaming your Tabs
You can give your tabs custom names, which is helpful in a number of situations, such as when the original folder name is too long. To rename a tab, right-click it and select "Rename Tab". You can also click it in an "insisting kind of way", but not too fast, as by default a tab closes when you double-click it.
In your default setup, you might like a tab (such as the Desktop tab) never to switch to another folder. When you right-click a tab, you will find a "Lock Tab" menu with four options. "Unlocked" is the default. "Locked" means that if you try to switch to another folder, that folder will open in a new tab. Unless you've had three cups of coffee, I suggest you leave the other two options for another time and skip to the next section.
Still there? "Locked (reuse unlocked tab)" means that if you try to switch to another folder, the folder will open in the next unlocked tab to the right (if any), forcing the target tab to move away from the folder it had been displaying. "Locked (allow folder changes)" means you can switch folders in the locked tab, but if you move to another tab, the locked tab will revert to its "home" folder.
Don't feel you have to make hard choices and exclude favorite tabs. If need be, you can save multiple lister layouts in the Prefs button's pull-down menu. Or, more simply, you can create groups of tabs (as explained in the tricks section) that open all at once when you right-click the tab bar and select the group's name.
Here are a few "generic" folders to consider throwing into your tab mix:
✱ The Desktop
✱ My Computer (renamed to its proper alias)
✱ The Recycle Bin (renamed to "Trash" to take less space)
✱ The Drive letter of your favorite mass-storage device or USB drive (for instance G:)
✱ Your favorite FTP destination
In addition to these, I have tabs for several folders I access frequently. These folders have fairly distinct navigation paths from one another: if two folders were close, one tab would be enough to cover them.
When you're done, remember to save your layout (Ctrl + Alt + F5).
Creating Tabs by Double-Clicking
When you double-click an empty space on the tab bar, Opus can create a duplicate of the current tab. To enable this, click the Prefs button (or press F12), select Folder Tabs / Options, check "Double-click tab strip to open a new tab showing: Current folder".
Customizing your File DisplayFor me, it's important to have Opus display files consistently. I get frazzled when Opus automatically resizes columns as I skip from folder to folder. I want certain fields to always display in a fixed width. (If I need to change the fields and widths temporarily, I use the padlock as explained in the tricks section.) Here is the format that works for me.
Two Folder Trees
In dual display mode, I like to see a tree for each file display. This is set in Prefs / Folder Tree / Options / "Open second Folder tree in dual display mode".
You can add or remove columns by right-clicking the column field, but here's a faster way to get everything we need.
At this stage we're only selecting a few basic columns that will work with all kinds of files and all screen sizes, but do take a moment to note that Opus offers an astounding array of fields. To see a list of these fields, right-click a field name in the file display (e.g. "Name"), hover over "Columns", then hover over the various categories: Documents, Music, Pictures and so on. Many fields are specific to Pictures (e.g. "aperture"), Music (e.g. "bit rate"), Videos (e.g. "aspect ratio"). There are also fields related to Programs (e.g. "version") and Documents (e.g. "pages"). Later, we'll be making a custom Style just for Images, and at that time you may decide to choose some of these special fields.
Click the Folder Options button. Select the Columns tab and the General pull-down option. Click the right arrow to bring fields to the right pane, remove the other fields by clicking the left arrow.
Here are my default fields:
✱ Name. In the first column, I display file names without their extension. Why? My second field is the extension—making it easy to sort by extension. To remove extensions, stay in the menu of the Folder Options button, select the "Display" tab and check "Hide file extension in Filename column".
✱ Size (auto).
✱ Date Modified.
Before you go anywhere, in the Folders button menu, click the first button (Save) and select "For All Folders + Layouts & Folder Tabs". Note that this has no effect in the second lister, so make sure to repeat these steps for the other side.
Notice that this is not the same Save procedure as when we save My Lister. Why not? When you save My Lister, you are saving the full layout for the folders presently being displayed. But that doesn't tell Opus how to display other folders, does it? That's what the Save menu in the Folder Options button is for. I find that a bit confusing too.
Shorter Date Format
To save space in the date column, you need to change the date format. This is done at the system level, in the Windows Control Panel, under Regional Settings. The exact menus will depend on your version of Windows, but it goes something like this: Control Panel / Regional and Language Settings / Formats tab / click "Customize this Format" / Time tab then Date tab: enter formats such as the ones below.
In the "Short Date" field of the date tab, I set the date to MM/dd/yy. You may prefer to use dots instead of slashes, as in the picture above: MM.dd.yy. In the Time format field of the Time tab, I set the time to HH:mm:ss
Once you have the fields you want, you can size the columns to fit the information and your display. The first step is to click the Folder Options button, select the Display tab and uncheck "Auto-size columns".
To size columns to your liking, start by dragging the separator in the field name bar.
Now click the "Folder" button on my toolbars. For the Filename column, I like to set the width to fill (a new feature in DO12). This means the column will expand or contract to take up any space left available by the other columns. Here is how my default lister looks when I press the Folder button:
Now you're ready to save your changes! Click the first button (Save) and select "For All Folders + Layouts & Folder Tabs". Repeat for the second file display (you need to save on both sides). Then make sure to save the My Lister layout in the Prefs button's pull-down menu ("My Lister: Save + Default" or simply Ctrl + Alt + F5).
Format Flat View and File Collections
The changes you just made apply to the normal view, but not to the flat view and file collections. Now is a good time to make similar changes to these views. Don't try to switch to flat view, drag the columns and save the changes in the Folder Options button, it won't work.
Instead, press the Prefs button (or F12) and navigate to Folders / Folder Formats. Select Flat view, check the box to make sure that this format will be used by default in flat view mode, click the edit icon at the top. You can now edit the fields as above. You can type the field widths directly in the appropriate columns (I use the same values as for the normal folder format). You may consider moving the Extension field to the top so that you can easily distinguish between flat view and regular view. I also include the "Location" field at the end—very convenient to know in which folder a file found in flat view mode actually lives. Don't forget to visit the display tab. Repeat the procedure for File Collections.
You may like the idea of colors in your file display to help you distinguish the various fields. In case you like mine, here is how to replicate them. These colors were inspired by Kondi and bx on the forum.
Click the Prefs button (or F12), and go straight to the first option: Display / Colors and Fonts / File and Folder Colors. Here, we'll change a few values.
✱ File display background: right-click the arrow next to the color. In the number field, enter 255, 255 and 206.
✱ Now move to Other Colors / Folder Tree. For background, again, enter 255, 255, 206.
✱ Now navigate to Display / Fields. In the field box on the right, pull the slider down until you see our fields.
✱ For Date modified, Background, enter 215, 235, 255.
✱ For Extension, Background, enter 215, 255, 215.
✱ For Size (auto), Background, enter 250, 219, 219.
Filter Bar at the BottomI love the filter bar. When a folder overflows with files, the filter bar makes life a lot more pleasant. Just type a few letters, and the relevant documents emerge alone from the deep sea of files. You can't see it on the screenshots higher up on the page, but I love having filter bars at the bottom of my file displays. To do the same, click the Prefs button (or hit F12) then select File Displays / Filter Bar / Display Filter Bar: Always.
In that same preferences dialog, uncheck the "Activation key" box. That way, when you start typing, the filter is immediately active. (If you leave the box checked, the "Find As You Type" system takes over when you start typing, which is confusing.) While you're in the Prefs box, go to File Displays / Find-As-You-Type, and in the first row (Find), replace the activation key (dot by default) with a forward slash. That way, when you type ".mp3" in the file display, that text will go into the filter bar rather than in the Find-As-You-Type field. You can still access the Find-As-You-Type field (but why would you?) with a forward slash (/), which those of you using Lotus 1-2-3 version 2.01 will appreciate.
Here are some quick tips to work fast with the filter bar:
✱ In a file display, to find a file, just start typing a few letters from the file name. No need to select the filter bar with the mouse.
✱ When you are happy with what you see in the display, press Enter. This returns focus to the display, where you can navigate with the arrow keys.
✱ From the display, start typing again to return to the filter.
✱ Or press Ctrl + Shift + X to clear the filter.
✱ To filter files not just in the current tab but in any of the open tabs, type "@" at the beginning of your filter string.
✱ To find a file that starts with a specific string, append a * wildcard at the end of the string. To find a file that ends with a specific string, place a * wildcard at the beginning of the string. The * wildcard lets Opus know that we are switching out of "find anywhere" mode.
In the filter bar, you can use the old DOS wildcards (* and ?), but the * wildcard is implied by default, as Opus shows you all files where the search strings appears anywhere in the file name. For instance, if you type .pdf, you will see the same files as if you had entered *.pdf*.
By the way, you don't need to bother typing a file extension. If you click the pull-down menu to the right of the filter, you can check boxes for the file types to filter.
Regex in Filter Bar
Are you a regular expressions black belt? You may want to set the filter bar to work in regex mode, which is the mode I use. To activate this, check Prefs / File Displays / FAYT and Filter Bar Options / Use regular expression
Highlight the Path to the Current FolderSometimes, after diving deep into a complex folder structure, you want to use the folder tree to navigate to a nearby folder, but the tree has expanded to such a degree that you are not quite sure where you are anymore. One of the many cool features introduced in version 10.2.0.1 (October 2012) will highlight the path to the current folder in the folder tree, using a color of your choice. To turn on that feature, go to Prefs (F12) / Folder Tree / Appearance, and click "Highlight path to selected folder". I leave the sub-boxes unchecked. Then, to select the highlight color, navigate to Prefs / Display / Colors and Fonts / Other Colors / Tree highlight path to selection. Click the "Background" pull-down menu to pick the color. With my color scheme, I find that a value of 162,208,255 (a light blue) works well.
Perfecting your Images StyleWhen you click the Pics button, the Images style is invoked. You can make that style show exactly the folders you want, exactly how you want them.
The first thing to decide is whether you want the button to call the Images style, or a tweaked version of that style (which allows you to keep the original Images style). If you want the button to call a new style (call it "Pics"), Alt-click the Pics button then change
To modify the style invoked by the Pics button, click the Prefs button (or press F12) then navigate to Layout and Styles / Styles. Select the Images style or, if your button now points to a new "Pics" style, click the duplicate icon at the top and enter "Pics". Now select your style (Pics or Images). Here is how I set mine up.
✱ For File Display, choose the second Dual Vertical option (the one with the icon). The icon means that two displays will have navigation lock.
✱ For Folder Tree, select "Single".
✱ For Preview Pane, select "Vertical".
✱ Leave the other upper checkboxes unchecked.
✱ In the Left File Display tab, check View Mode: Detail. Check "Folder" and select your main pictures folder. Leave other boxes unchecked. Click Tabs, check "Close existing folder tabs", and do not add any tabs (it will confuse Navlock).
✱ In the Right File Display tab, check View Mode: Thumbnails. Check "Folder" and select your main pictures folder. Leave other boxes unchecked. Click Tabs, check "Close existing folder tabs", do not add tabs.
✱ Click Apply, OK: done!
Now when you press the Pics button, the display should quickly switch to a convenient layout in which to browse your pictures. When you click the Happy Place button, you quickly return to a "normal" file layout.
On your display, the Preview pane's image may appear framed and against a white background, as on this picture. For best all-around contrast, I prefer images to appear unframed, against a dark neutral background, as on the screenshot above. To set that up, click the Prefs button (or hit F12), select Viewer / Viewer Pane, uncheck "Frame picture" then click on the Picture background color arrow and enter these numbers: 89,89,89.
When I navigate image folders, I often press F9 to show or hide the metadata pane. I don't work on huge screens, so in the file display I stick to the basic fields we set up earlier: extension, size and date modified. However, if you have a large screen, you may want to set up your image tabs to show some image-related fields. If you right-click a column name (for instance "Extension") and select Columns / Pictures, you will see that Opus offers you an astounding array of image-related fields that can be shown in the file display. Here are a few among many: ISO speed, aperture, focal length, height, camera make.
Perfecting your Music and Video StylesI haven't been listening to a lot of music in the past few years, so I haven't put any effort into making a special style for my music folder. But Opus has great features for displaying music files. For starters, it can display album art and list a number of metadata fields.
So I will leave you on your own with this part of the set-up and hope it will be a fun exercise. For inspiration, there's plenty of discussion about music files on the Opus forum. If you invent something marvelous, please come back and let everyone know through the comment form at the bottom!
In the meantime, be aware that as a starting point, the Images style you have already set up will work quite well for Video and Music files. After hitting the Pics button, just switch to a Music or Video folder.
As you construct your music style or layout, be aware that in the file display, Opus can show a great number of music-related fields. To see the list of fields, right-click a field name (such as the file's size) then select Columns / Music. Here are a few examples among many: Album, year, genre, track number, duration, bit rate, codec.
Likewise, Opus has many columns specific to videos. To see the list of fields, right-click a field name (such as the file's size) then select Columns / Movies. Here are a few examples among many: Duration, aspect ratio, bit rate, high definition.
A tour through some other very cool Opus features