The Open and Save file dialog in Windows is not really optimized for opening favorite folders quickly, and Microsoft somehow fails to improve the dialog with every release of a new Windows operating system.
Update: Turns out the company has improved the dialog after all with the release of Windows 7. You may now add folder locations to the favorites section of the sidebar in Windows Explorer. This allows you to access often used folders quickly and without using a third-party program like Flash Folder.
There is for instance no option to save folders that you use regularly for save or open operations. This means that you will have have to click a lot to get to the folder that you want to use for an operation.
Flashfolder to the rescue. Flashfolder is small tool that docks a window onto open and save dialogs in Windows, giving users options to access favorite folders -- currently open file folders and the global folder history -- with two clicks.
The absolute path of the current folder is displayed as well which is ideal if you want to manually change it in case you are a fast typing user.
Flashfolder can be configured for three types of dialogs, those are Common Open / Save, Common Browser for folder and Microsoft Office Open / Save dialogs. Each comes with an option to exclude applications from showing the Flashfolder overlay and with options to set a minimum height, width and position of the overlay window.
Flashfolders uses less than 2 Megabytes of Ram while running which is excellent. It adds itself to as a service in Windows which is essential for compatibility according to the author of the program.
Update: The latest program version has been released in 2008. The program does not appear to be compatible with versions of Windows that have been released after that year.
The configuration window comes with options to separate folders from each other, first with separators and then with the addition of submenus to the program. You could for instance separate work from entertainment folders, or local and network folders from each other.
I'm not aware of any alternative to the program at the moment. Please let everyone know if you are aware of an alternative.
It is likely that the release of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system has something to do with the decision to stop development of the program. The reason is simple: Windows 7 ships with sidebar that displays favorites among other folders at all times, or at least when the default Windows file and open dialog is used by programs.
There is simply no need for an extra program to handle this anymore. While you can still use it in older versions of Windows, Windows 7 and newer operating system users may want to stick to the built-in feature instead.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.