Add Notes to Files & Folders

Have you ever wondered how you could leave comments/notes with the files/folders in the Windows explorer? I just found the answer in the Gizmo’s Support Alert Newsletter newsletter from

How to Add Notes to Your Files and Folders

The average PC contains so many files it’s pretty easy to forget what a particular file contains or what it does. Most users try and get around this by using descriptive file names. So rather than call a file something like “list.doc” they might call it “thanksgiving acceptances 2007.doc”

In principle this should work pretty well as Windows will accept file names up to 255 characters in length. However in practice, lists of very long file names are difficult to quickly scan and are often truncated by Windows Explorer. And there are other problems. The maximum file name length in the Joliet system commonly used to burn CDs is 128 characters. Worse still, the maximum Joliet path length (including file name) is only 160 characters. This means that many really long file names will be lost when you burn your data to CD.

But there is another way of documenting files using an inbuilt but little-used Windows feature. This involves the use of the “Comments” field. It’s an attribute of all files and folders in Windows just like name, size and date created. Most users don’t know about this field as the Comments field is by default not displayed in Windows Explorer in XP.

Turning it on is easy. Open any folder in Windows Explorer and right click on a blank space in the field title bar. That’s the grayed out area that says “Name Size Type” etc. When you right click you will see a list of fields displayed with some checked. To display the Comments field, simply check that field. Once checked you now see that field on the right hand side of your Explorer window, though you may have to scroll to the right to see it.

The Comments field will be blank, as we haven’t added any comments. I’ll get to that later but first we have to tell Windows to now add the Comments field to every window. To do that select Tools / Folder options / View from the window where you just added the Comments field. Then press the “Apply to all folders” button. NOTE: If you have customized folder views for different folders you may want to skip this step as it will give all your folders the same view.

Now here’s how you add comments: Just right click a file, select “Properties” then click the “Summary” tab. You can then enter your comments directly in the Comments box at the bottom of the Windows. Whatever you enter will then be displayed in the Comments field in Windows Explorer.

Neat eh? But here are a few additional tips that make the comments field even more useful:

When searching for a particular file you have commented, remember, you can sort on the Comments field in Internet Explorer by clicking on the title, just like any other field. Sorting will group all your annotated files together, which makes them easier to scan when looking for a particular file. Sorted comments are also in alphabetical order, so try to annotate systematically using meaningful keywords at the start of your comments.

Many desktop search programs index the Comments field. That makes searching your comments even easier.

Finally, you can comment your files even more quickly by using the free HobComment Explorer Extension utility that makes the Comments field available directly off the context menu when you right click a file. You can get HobComment from here: (14KB) (12KB) <= XP users may need this as well


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