March 13th, 2009

Blockhead

If anyone tells you Microsoft aren't listening...

… you can tell them from me that they’re talking mince.

There’s a well-hidden piece of functionality in Windows Explorer that you may not know about. It’s tucked away on the Edit menu, without a keyboard shortcut. If you never look there, you won’t have found it it – and as the menus are hidden away by default in Windows Vista until you hit the Alt key, the chances of missing it are ever-increasing. It’s the Invert Selection command.

All it does is what it says. If you are viewing a folder and have one or more files or subfolders selected, then use Invert Selection, you will wind up with all the files and subfolders selected except for the ones that you had selected originally.

It’s not the world’s most ambitious command, and there are other ways to achieve the same result manually. However, for those of us who use it frequently it was a bit of a blow to discover that in the beta of Windows 7 the Invert Selection command had disappeared!

Apparently the reason was that it doesn’t perform particularly well with virtual views, which I can believe – it might involve having to run a search or do network access, both of which could slow things down considerably; and apparently telemetry suggested that not many users in the wild were making use of Invert Selection.

However, those who were using it were pretty fond of it, and apparently Microsoft received a disproportionate amount of feedback requesting its return. They’ve just announced that in the Release Candidate of Windows 7, this feature will be back.

I’m particularly chuffed because, although I was neither the only nor even the first person to ask for it, they were nice enough to give me a name-check and quote me in the announcement (scroll down to point 6).