Why don’t the favorites I copy into the common Favorites directory show up in the Favorites menu of all users?


The Favorites menu in Internet Explorer shows the user's favorites. And stuff in the %ALLUSERSPROFILE% is visible to all users. Therefore, Internet shortcuts placed into the %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Favorites directory should show up on the Favorites menu of all users, right? So why doesn't it work?

Because features don't exist by default.

It's true that there are a few highly-visible cases where the items shown to the user are a combination of files from the %USERPROFILE% and the %ALLUSERSPROFILE%, the most commonly encountered ones being the desktop and the Start menu. But that doesn't happy as a result of magic. Somebody had to sit down and hook them up.

Even the highly visible cases show that the behavior is implemented on a case-by-case basis. For example, the Music folder does not show the items in the all-users version of the Music directory; there is just a shortcut that takes you there. Similarly, items in the all-users Documents folder do not show up in every user's Documents folder; instead there is a separate Shared Documents folder.

Each of those cases had to be hooked up separately, and most of them are not hooked up at all.

Now, the common Favorites folder may be a tempting target, seeing as the shell team even defined a CSIDL value for it, but it's just another example of something that never got hooked up but whose vestiges didn't get completely cleaned up either.

Comments (18)
  1. Some dude says:

    >But that doesn’t happy as a result of magic.

    Why does it happy then?  ;-)

  2. Scott says:

    The lesson being "this is why you design robust solutions that don’t have to reimplemented for each use".

  3. John says:

    That’s strange, I could have sworn that this used to work; maybe back in IE 5.0 or 5.5.  Or am I just crazy?  Now I will have to test out old versions of IE when I get home to satisfy my curiosity.  Damn you, Raymond.

  4. DWalker says:

    “somebody had to hook them up” one by one?  Not by making everything that exists in %ALLUSERSPROFILE% visible to all users?  I don’t understand.  

    [Good luck changing FindFirstFile so it shows files from two directories. -Raymond]
  5. Karellen says:

    "Good luck changing FindFirstFile so it shows files from two directories."

    I thought Windows could already do that. I’m /sure/ there was a DOS command, similar to "subst" or "join", that did what UnionFS[0] does for Linux – overlay the contents of two directories as one. As with other DOS commands, these would produce visible changes to any Windows app.

    Looking through some web pages on DOS though, I can’t find it. Is it just my imagination that such a capability existed?

    [0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UnionFS

  6. Of course nobody expects it to happen automagically. That’s a bit of a straw man argument. What people do expect is that if you set a pattern of usage, that pattern will be followed in other, similar scenarios. That’s why they’re disappointed when it isn’t.

    I’m not saying "never add any feature until it’s totally perfect across the board", but do realize that you’re creating an inconsistent user interface here, and adding to the general confusion of users.

    If you’d ask me to make a split-second decision between adding the feature as is or cutting it, I’d say "add". But the question is totally legit.

  7. Jonathan says:

    DWalker59:

    I think what Raymond meant here is that the "hooking up" is not some filesystem-level feature (Like the later-mentioned "UnionFS"). The start menu "hook up" is implemented at the start menu implementation itself, and the desktop at the shell namespace level. If someone wanted to implemented a "common favorites" feature, he’d have to write code to do the hook up in the favorites menu code (like the start menu), or at the lowest in the shell namespace provider of Favorites.

  8. J says:

    "But the question is totally legit."

    Raymond’s not saying the question isn’t legit.  He’s saying that it doesn’t work because nobody implemented it to do that.  As far as I can tell, he didn’t once try to justify that decision.  To summarize, the answer to "Why doesn’t this work?" is "Only because it’s not implemented, and no other reason."

  9. laonianren says:

    @Karellen: you’re probably thinking of "append".  It still exists in XP but I think it only works for 16-bit applications.

  10. Follow-up: Why can’t I permanently disable Favorites folders (Links, Microsoft Websites, etc)?

    [I am so psychic that I answered your follow-up over three years before you asked it. -Raymond]
  11. JamesNT says:

    I don’t know what’s more impressive.  The fact that Raymond knew the answer or the fact that he REMEMBERED ANSWERING IT IN A BLOG POST THREE YEARS AGO!!

    I can barely remember posts I made 3 months ago.

    JamesNT

  12. Dumbo says:

    [I am so psychic that I answered your follow-up over three years before you asked it. -Raymond]

    I don’t think so. The old post was just a coincidence.

  13. The Imp says:

    Of course, if you’re wanting it to be set up for a new system, and not wanting to change the entry for accounts that have already been created, you can the the Default User profile — it will be copied to a new user at account creation time.

    Not quite the same thing, but maybe good enough, depending on exactly what someone was trying to do.

  14. Dean Harding says:

    "The fact that Raymond knew the answer or the fact that he REMEMBERED ANSWERING IT IN A BLOG POST THREE YEARS AGO!!"

    Perhaps Raymond has learnt how to use a search engine? A search of "site:blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing why can’t I delete favorites folders" turns up that post as the first result.

    Of course, that could be because of THIS post linking to it; that’s the trouble with this blog, google re-indexes it so fast, you can’t tell :-)

  15. mpbk says:

    "the Music folder does not show the items in the all-users version of the Music directory; there is just a shortcut that takes you there. Similarly, items in the all-users Documents folder do not show up in every user’s Documents folder; instead there is a separate Shared Documents folder."

    This problem has possibly been solved by the new Libraries feature in Windows 7.

  16. DWalker says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Raymond.  Now I understand.

  17. KenW says:

    @Dumbo: "I don’t think so. The old post was just a coincidence."

    Not so. Raymond has proven his psychic abilities here many times with posts on psychic debugging. Search the archives. :-)

  18. 640k says:

    Follow-up: Why can’t I permanently disable Favorites folders (Links, Microsoft Websites, etc)?

    [I am so psychic that I answered your follow-up over three years before you asked it. -Raymond]

    No, you only discussed the topic. Not explaining why links cannot be disabled.

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