GBM How To: Pen / Touch Friendly File Selections in Vista

For those who came from or are still on XP Tablet Edition, you are quite familiar with how painful it is to do a multi-select while using a pen or touch. If you use a slate tablet pc or a UMPC, it is especially difficult because you can’t resort to built-in keyboard. You end up having to fiddle with the ctrl keys and shift keys in the TIP, and the end result is that the file selection gets all messed up, frequently requiring multiple retries.

Well, Vista improves that for us by providing checkboxes next to file names, but unfortunately the option is turned off by default, so most new users to Vista never know its even there. In my opinion, it is one feature that all Tablet users, whether pen or touch, should turn on. In addition, it is a feature I’d love to see added to other applications like Outlook where multi-selects are done. It is just another example of making an application touch and pen friendly.


Here is how to turn on checkbox file selection:

  1. Go to Start, Computer
  2. Next, go to Organize, Folder and Search Options
  3. Filecheckbox2Then, Go to View, and scroll down to “Use checkboxes to select items” and check it.
  4. Click Ok
  5. Now, when you hover over a file name with your pen or mouse, a checkbox will appear that will let multi-select items much easier ( see image below ). For touch users, you “just have to know” that the checkboxes are on the upper left hand corner or beside the folder – another nuance of not having hover in touch. By touching in that empty area, the checkboxes will work. It just takes a little practice to figure out where they are.


So, there you have it – a simple way to improve the overall experience for Vista based pen and touch users.