Windows Legacy OS forum

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Export file list in same order as thumbnails

by Jacobus5402 / May 26, 2008 2:25 AM PDT

When viewing files as thumbnails in Explorer I can manually rearrange them by simply dragging and dropping. Now they are not in any particular logical order (that is, not by Name or Date Created, etc.), *but* they are in the order I want them. And even when I close and reopen Explorer, as long as I stay in Thumbnails "mode" the files remain in the order I manually placed them.

Now here's the challenge: I have been unable to find a way to export a list of these files *in the order I put them*. There are lots of utilities (even the good old DOS DIR command) that make it possible to list files in various sort orders, but none that I have found that will list the files in the order I put their thumbnails.

Any ideas? Thanks!

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Think carefully about this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 26, 2008 2:32 AM PDT

While I can export them in any order with a script or such, will the device it is exported to honor this sort?

I've found many devices have their own sort rules.
Bob

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Export files in same order as Thumbnails
by Jacobus5402 / May 26, 2008 4:01 AM PDT

>>While I can export them in any order with a script or such, will the device it is exported to honor this sort?<<

Thanks for your response. Allow me to elaborate. I've written a program that automates renaming files in various ways (and there are numerous utilities out there that do the same). Mine will name them with a beginning number that will serve thereafter to keep them in the order I want because then they will be in alphabetical order. The missing link for me, though, is getting a file list out of Windows Explorer (into just a text file would do fine) that puts the files in the same order is I have manually arranged them in Windows Explorer. Keep in mind that *there is no sort order* other than how I have manually placed them. So...

>>While I can export them in any order with a script or such...<< I'm sure you can export them in alpha order, or by Date Created, or by size, etc., *but*, can you export them in the order you manually placed them? That's the trick I'm looking for.

Thank you.

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If I use my own software, yes.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 26, 2008 4:22 AM PDT

"To arrange a folder's items manually, choose any view except List or Details" and watch what file and registry entries are used with FILEMON and REGMON.

Armed with the gritty detail now we can code our export software to read that list. No one will tell you this is easy but it is possible. I decline to write that code.
Bob

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Code to read THUMBS.DB
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 26, 2008 7:16 AM PDT
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Interesting
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 26, 2008 4:59 AM PDT

You said that you have written a utility that will name the files with a number at the beginning, and then that number will keep them in order because the alpha name after the number will be in alphabetical order.

Did I get that right?

This is beyond my capabilities of course but does that not do the job for you? Assuming you deliberately add a number at the beginning that will list in numerical order, doesn't windows do the rest whatever application you use? I thought that Windows would list files in numeric order, then alpha order within each numeric group.

If you have truly reordered the files randomly then I am not sure how any algorithm would work. All algorithms need rules with which to work with, (unlike humans), and file listings are no different. If you randomly place files in any order, irrespective of file name, (or creation date, modified date, etc), how would the algorithm pick that up? The only way I would know is to place each file name into a database cell in the order they are entered.

Perhaps exporting the list to a text file then importing that to a spreadsheet? Then you can use formulae to re-order to some specific rule of yours.

Good luck. I would be interested to know if you find anything.

Mark

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If you simply MUST do this ...
by Edward ODaniel / May 26, 2008 2:44 AM PDT

forget about exporting them and just make use of a screenshot (or series of screenshots) which will retain just what you want because it is a graphic, a simple picture of what you want to see.

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Listing files in Thumbnail order
by Jacobus5402 / May 26, 2008 5:35 AM PDT

>>If you randomly place files in any order, irrespective of file name, (or creation date, modified date, etc), how would the algorithm pick that up?<<

The same way Windows Explorer "remembers" the "random" order (but I don't know how Windows is doing that - probably in the Register.)

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Re: thumbnail order
by Kees Bakker / May 26, 2008 6:51 AM PDT

It's not in the desktop.ini, I think. See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb776832(VS.85).aspx

So my prime suspect is the thumbs.db that's used to cache the thumbnails: http://search.msdn.microsoft.com/Default.aspx?query=thumbs.db&brand=msdn&locale=en-us&refinement=
That's rather easy to prove: order the thumbnails in some sequence. Delete the thumbs.db and see if your order is preserved.

It's a compressed file, and you might need Windows internal code to read and interpret it. But just as well, there might be a published API.

Kees

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re: thumbnail order
by Jacobus5402 / May 26, 2008 7:40 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: thumbnail order

Thanks, Kees-

>>So my prime suspect is the thumbs.db <<
Yes, I thought of that, too. However, when I delete Thumbs.dbf and force Explorer to recreate it, much to my surprise Explorer has still remembered my custom thumbnail order! I thought that was interesting. My research found someone else with the same issue but using a Mac, so that didn't do me much good. So far no luck.

-Rick

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Then, as suggested by Bob, ...
by Kees Bakker / May 26, 2008 7:50 AM PDT
In reply to: re: thumbnail order

Regmon and Filemon to track what happens.

Kees

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Workaround for saving/extracting the thumbnail sequence
by d33p6 / October 30, 2010 1:29 PM PDT
In reply to: re: thumbnail order

Try this;

If you select all the files in a folder (or a subset of them) then press F2 to rename them to FOO (for example) they will all get new names like FOO, FOO (1), FOO (2) etc. The order of the numbers should follow the order they are appearing in the view.

You need to be careful to select the first one last before you press F2 because the last one you select will be the one that gets called FOO and the rest will get numbers. e.g. shift-click to select all but the first one, or drag a selection box over them or whatever then shift-click the first one then press F2.

Anyway once you have renamed them your filenames will now reflect the order that they appear in the thumbnail view. This means that a you can use DIR or something to list the files in the correct order by name and also in something stuffs up your thumbnail order you can just sort by name and its all fixed again.

Good luck!

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