IDG logo

Advertise with InfoWorld

SiteMap News Test Center Opinions Forums Careers Stock Quote Subject Indexes About Us Search Subscribe Home [Window Manager]

July 22, 1996

One more quick fix for yet another dialog-box irritant

Note: To download the Windows 95 Character Chart mentioned in the July 1 column, click here.

Last week, I wrote about one of the biggest irritations in Windows 95 and a utility to fix it: "Are you sure?" dialog boxes that you can't turn off, even for mundane operations such as renaming a file. (See Reader Resources, page 96, for information about ordering back issues.)

This week, there's a fix for another type of dialog-box complaint. This problem relates to the cramped dialog boxes you usually get when you click File Open, File Save As, and other commands.

Most Windows applications these days create the dialog boxes for these functions by taking advantage of a Microsoft "common dialog box dynamic link library" called COMMDLG.DLL. (Notable exceptions are Microsoft Office applications, which don't use COM MDLG.DLL.) This library makes all such dialog boxes look consistent and can be updated as Windows itself evolves.

But the dialog boxes that it produces for File Open and other functions are smaller than most of today's monitors can display. Even a bad ol' DOS character-mode display could show you 25 files per screen (more than 100 with the Wide switch on). But the File Open dialog box does not use the full display area of a plain VGA display (640 by 480 pixels). Now that EGA is no longer a supported display type, Windows has no excuse for these dinky dialog boxes.

There's no easy way for end-users to resize the common dialog boxes to take advantage of the full resolution of their displays. But fortunately COMMDLG.DLL is somewhat extensible for developers. And a new version of a shareware utility makes it possible for you to redefine common dialog boxes to almost any size that will fit on your screen.

Let Me See is a $5 utility by Eric Askilsrud, developer of the Icon Corral program. Let Me See redraws your File Open dialog boxes and others that are generated by COMMDLG.DLL. You can specify the size of the dialog boxes and change the way files are listed there, as a plain file name list or with complete details sorted by name, size, and so on.

Many of the items in the dialog boxes are fixed in size, so how does Let Me See enlarge the dimensions without distorting things? The program enlarges only the "client area" of dialog boxes, the empty window into which the file names are written. Expanding this window area results in more information being displayed without making the rest of the dialog box look jagged due to scaling.

The first time you run Let Me See, it displays its own control panel that allows you to specify window size and other options. A Test button enables you to see what your choices will do to a typical dialog box. After configuring the program, you place a shortcut to it into your StartUp group. It runs invisibly thereafter. If you need the control panel again, you run Let Me See a second time, and the controls become visible.

I've placed a zip file with the program and documentation here. Have fun.

Brian Livingston is the coauthor of the new Windows 95 Secrets and author of three other Windows books (IDG Books). Send tips to or fax: (206) 282-1248.

Missed a column? Go back for more.

Copyright © 1996 by InfoWorld Publishing Company


Copyright © 2002. InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. is a member of complies with the ASME guidelines with IDG extensions For New media.