Handy Folders v3.5 Utility Review

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, June 2009
Published by: Resort Labs
Requires: Windows XP or later including Windows 7, any PC capable of running Windows XP or later, 64MB of available RAM
MSRP: US$19.95

Some utilities are built on the idea that people who spend a lot of time at a PC, working and producing things of value (as opposed to gaming, surfing the Web, or searching online for information or entertainment) require basic software tools which are more robust than the ones built into the Windows operating system. File management springs to mind. Windows has a limited number of very hard-to-change slots for permanent links to folders you access frequently. On top of the configuration difficulty, there are also only four slots. So what do you do when you realize one day that you regularly access a half a dozen or more folders and you're laboriously going through the same click, click, click, click, etc., motions to reach those folders each time you have to retrieve a document? What happens when Microsoft Word runs out of slots for previously opened documents? That's when you begin to wonder if anyone has created little utility which will somehow plug itself into the Windows file explorer dialog box and provide you with access to all the folders you care to configure. Such a utility exists. It's called Handy Folders.



Handy Folders acts like a plug-in for the Windows Explorer shell. After installation, every time you open Windows Explorer directly, and every time you look for a file to Open, Save or Save As in any program you happen to be running, you'll find an extra drop list in the file dialog box alongside a row of drive icons. The icons correspond to whatever drives and partitions you've configured in your system. The drop list is where the main magic happens. Handy Folders also installs an applet which is accessible through its icon in the Windows System Tray. The applet provides additional access to folder and drive paths configured in Handy Folders.

Configuration is simple. During installation, Handy Folders automatically picks up all your hard drive and partition letters. Once installed though, you can launch Windows Explorer (Windows key + E) to find the "My Favorite Places" drop list at the top of the explorer dialog box. Click it to drop the current list and select "Configure" to add as many frequently used (or hard to remember) folder paths as you like. The order of paths in your list can be changed to keep the ones most frequently used at the top. New paths can be added, modified or deleted at any time. There's also an option to create categories in which to add different folder paths. Once you've created a category (e.g., Business, Media, Photos, Personal, etc.), it appears beside My Favorite Places in all file dialog boxes.

Handy Folders improves productivity. We've tried it full-time on more than a dozen different Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 machines. No problems, no incompatibilities, no instabilities. Handy Folders is cleanly written and well designed. All utilities should be like this.

Cons: We haven't found any bad things. The utility works perfectly well in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. No incompatibilities, no mysterious absences in some file Save/Save As dialogs. Unlike the very late and lamented FastPath back in the early '90s (written by Keith Gerdes and probably the best example of this type of utility ever conceived, unfortunately only for the Atari ST, TT and Falcon computers), Handy Folders does not offer access to file paths. Folder paths only. It looks to us as though Handy Folders could easily be updated to offer file paths as well.

Pros: Some things just work. Handy Folders is a genuine time saver and productivity enhancer. Anyone who regularly accesses a variety of different folders for file editing, document creation and document management purposes will welcome this little utility. I'll say it again - all utilities should be like this. It's the only one of its kind, at this time, which is fully compatible with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. Highly recommended.

KSN Product Rating:



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