Why don’t all the Control Panel applications show up when you open a menu from the address bar?


One of the features added to the Explorer Address Bar in Windows Vista is the ability to navigate quickly to an item by clicking on its name, or navigate to a folder's children by clicking the arrow that appears next to the item and selecting your destination.

One customer reported that there appeared to be a problem with the Control Panel: Switch to Classic View, and then click the arrow next to the words Control Panel. The result is a dropdown menu that shows some but not all of the Control Panel applications. Is this a bug?

No, everything is behaving normally. Recall that the dropdown menu shows things that you can navigate to; in other words, it shows you a list of subfolders of the Control Panel. Since you can't navigate to non-folders, they aren't listed as options.

Notice, for example, that when you go to your Documents folder and click the dropdown arrow, not all of your documents show up in the menu. Only things which Explorer can navigate to appear in the menu (mostly subfolders but occasionally you'll find subfolder-like items such as compressed folders).

The customer replied with a simple, "Thanks. That makes sense."

Obligatory link: The so-called God Mode.

Comments (13)
  1. Good Point says:

    Am I mistaken, or is this the first image in the history of The Old New Thing?

  2. barrkel says:

    Of course, the navigability of the folder is a necessary but insufficient criterion for appearance on that drop-down. For example, Network and Sharing Center isn't on it – instead, it's in the All Control Panel Items subfolder of Control Panel. Or at least that's where it shows up if you got there by clicking on the links, rather than navigating via the drop-downs.

    Similarly, Network Connections isn't on it – logically enough, it's somewhere completely different, in the Network and Internet subfolder. But wait! Network Connections doesn't show up in Network and Internet's drop-down! It's navigable, but you need to get there by clicking on the link "Change adapter settings" from Network and Sharing Center, which is itself a subfolder of Network and Internet, but only if you got there by navigating from the drop-downs…

  3. Chad says:

    Good Point, embedded images have a storied history:

    blogs.msdn.com/…/9898231.aspx

  4. Mihai says:

    @GP: The image link is not pointing to this blog. It seems to be an image that is also used for a product (windows vista) presentation.

    http://www.microsoft.com/…/3.02ExplorerAddress.jpg

  5. David Walker says:

    "Recall that the dropdown menu shows things that you can navigate to…"

    Buy why?  The drop-down COULD show control panel applications.  Then, clicking on one of them would start the control panel application.

    [Should the drop-down list for a directory show all the files in it, or just the folders? -Raymond]
  6. anonymuos says:

    So why is Control Panel in Windows 7 limited to Category, and Small/Large icon (which is actually Tiles) views? Why restrict Large icons, Extra Large, List and Details views? Can't resist that "restrict something" urge? "Large icons" isn't sufficient for 1080p and above resolutions. Or maybe Start search is so evolved that MS wants to force us to only use it?

  7. Chuck says:

    anynomous: bingo!

    One problem with windows search 4.0 is it's so intrusive and burning CPU cycles it's unbelievable (check with ProcMon). It's supposed to index everything and satisfy it's curiosity after some time, but it doesn't ever. A huge regression. This is one of the rare areas where Vista is better than 7.

    Sad really.

  8. Lazbro says:

    It may 'make sense' from a developer's point of view. The user/customer, however, doesn't care about subfolders in the control panel: he clicks on that tab because he OBVIOUSLY wants a list of CP applications. You're telling him 'BZZZZZZZZTTT! Wrong choice! Those are not FOLDERS, you idiot!'.

    Sorry, but explanation not accepted.

  9. Drak says:

    I'm glad you also sometimes get customers who accept your answer and just carry on :D

  10. User says:

    BBZZZT, sorry, idiot rant not accepted.

    If you can't tell the difference between a "tab" and an "arrow", then you're dumber than the users you claim to be advocating for.

    If you click on the folder name, you jump straight to that folder. If you click on the arrow *beside* the folder name, you get a list of child folder that you can go to immediately.

  11. David Walker says:

    [Should the drop-down list for a directory show all the files in it, or just the folders? -Raymond]

    I'm talking about control panel applications.  Those are not folders.

    [Should the drop-down list have special knowledge of the Control Panel and behave differently just for that folder? -Raymond]
  12. Keith says:

    [Should the drop-down list have special knowledge of the Control Panel and behave differently just for that folder? -Raymond]

    Explorer already seems to have special knowledge of the control panel.  Why shouldn't it be consistent between the main view and the breadcrumb bar?

    [Explorer doesn't have special knowledge of the control panel. The control panel presents a custom namespace with a custom view. The address bar doesn't know about this custom view; all it sees is a custom namespace with items and folders. The "God mode" folder is part of this custom namespace. (If Explorer had special knowledge of the control panel, we wouldn't need the "God mode" folder.) -Raymond]
  13. peterchen says:

    "Buy why?  The drop-down COULD show control panel applications.  Then, clicking on one of them would start the control panel application."

    • should we be able to right-click them to bring up the contect menu?
    • should we be able to select items, and use Copy & Paste keyboard shortcuts?

    • should we be able to copy and move items using drag & drop?

    • might users expect to reorder items when the drop-down menu offers drag & drop?

    • Do you know all the other things shell namespaces can do which I dodn't think of here, and can you apply them to what currently is, basically, a menu?

    It's a can of worms that you can close with tons of code, mostly replicating an existing user interface in another place. Or you can keep the lid on it.

Comments are closed.