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  1. #1
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    Are Windows 7 file properties real?

    I'm trying to figure out how to use file properties in Windows 7, and I'm getting nowhere. Do they actually work?

    Here's how it looks to me: Windows 7 and Office 2010 both support huge sets of file properties which include virtually anything one might want to record. They aren't the same file properties, though. A somewhat smaller set is supported by both Windows 7 and Office 2010. An even smaller set actually are the same property in both places, so that a value set is one place is visible in the other. A vanishingly small subset of those are fully supported, so that values can be set in either place and are visible in either place.

    For example, I can set a document file's Authors and Title properties in Word 2010 and view them in Windows Explorer. If I open a Properties dialog for the file, I can see the values and change them.

    But if I set a file's "Date completed" property in Word and display its "Date completed" property in Windows Explorer, it's blank. The property has the same name in both places, but apparently it isn't the same property. W.E.'s Properties box doesn't even display this property, presumably because it has no value, and the UI consequently won't let me set it -- catch 22.

    Word 2010 lets me set the Language Property. W.E. displays a Language property, but it's not the same one -- set it in Word and it's still empty in W.E. W.E.'s Properties dialog displays Language even though it's empty, but won't let me set it.

    Is there something I don't understand about how file properties are used? If not, it appears that they're only about 10% implemented.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    It would appear that you've been "X"ed! .docx that is. I tested on my desktop {Win 7-64 SP-1 & Office 2003} and no problem Date Completed showed up and was modifiable in Explorer.

    I next copied the document to my laptop {Win 7-64 SP-1 & Office 2007} and no problems that is until I did a save as .docx format then it was bye-bye as the screen that now shows up when I click Properties in Explorer is entirely different than the one that shows up on BOTH machines when I do the same on the .doc file. Seems the .docx format doesn't support all the same properties at least not in Explorer.
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  3. #3
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    Actually, I was testing with a mixture of doc, docx, and pptx files. I suspected that doc and docx files wouldn't work the same way, but I never imagined that doc's would work and docx's wouldn't!

    I should go back and test this again at some point, but "It really doesn't work well" is a good enough answer, or a bad enough one, for now.

  4. #4
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    The newer office files (docx, pptx, etc) are all actually just ZIP files. If you change the extension to .zip, you can open them with a zip utility. (I recommend doing this to a copy of the file, not to the original!) The document properties are stored in several XML files within a docProps directory within the ZIP. The XML files are not formatted, so they are a little harder to read than usual in a plain text editor.

    I suspect that different versions of Office will store different sets of properties in these XML files.

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