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  1. #1
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    Limit on opening multiple documents from Windows Explorer

    Today I tried to open all of the Word documents in a directory... something I've done routinely in every version of Windows since Windows NT... and nothing happened.

    My usual technique is to select all of the files I want to open and press Enter. When that failed, I tried right click/Open. That didn't work either; the Open command wasn't on the menu.

    I found that I can open 15 files at once, but not 16.

    This is not a Word problem. When I try to open multiple PDFs, the same thing happens.

    Has anyone else encountered this? Does anyone know a way to correct it?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Yeah, I can confirm that too, 15 appears to be the "at one time" limit, with the method you described at least.
    But you can still open another 15 once the first 15 are opened, and so on, and so on.

    I don't thinks it's a flaw of any kind though, it feels more like a deliberately built in hard coded limitation.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2012-02-01 at 22:59.

  3. #3
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    As Clint says it maybe is a limit to prevent crashes and other problems on lower end PCs. As there are few people who would want to open more than 15 docs at once it it is not a problem.
    Clive

    All typing errors are my own work and subject to patents pending. Except errors by the spell checker. And that has its own patients.

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    Please forgive my rant... this is typical of the way Windows and Office applications have been evolving for the past ten years, and it's infuriating.

    Opening a large set of documents at one time is a standard technique for me when I need to perform some operation on all of them. As I finish each one, I close it. The ones that are still open are the ones that still need to be processed, by definition. The risk of missing a document is minimized.

    Now I can't do that any more. Microsoft says, "This is by design. These context menu items will not appear if selecting more than 15 items to avoid accidentally performing these actions on a large number of files."

    Well, the same argument could be applied to anything I do with my computer. What's next? If I finish a project and need to delete 3,512 working files, is Microsoft going to force me to delete them 15 at a time "to avoid accidentally performing this action on a large number of files?"

    Why not lower the limit from 15 to 8, or to one? Why not prevent me from deleting files at all because then I might delete one by accident?

    That is ridiculous, of course. So is what Microsoft has done.

    Clint said, "But you can still open another 15 once the first 15 are opened, and so on..." Of course I can. Each time I do, though, the risk of accidentally missing a file or processing one twice is increased.

    This is not a made-up objection. It's a problem that I have always had to guard against in similar situations where "open all" or the equivalent wasn't possible. There are several ways to guard against it... all of them laborious and imperfect.

    The whole point of using computers is to make our work easier and improve its quality. Why is Microsoft persistently making changes that have the opposite result?

    The most infuriating thing about this is that Microsoft didn't have to do it even if they were fixing a real problem. All they had to do was remove "Open" from the Ctrl+click context menu but keep it in the Ctrl+Shift+click menu. The majority of people, who never need to open many files at once, would be protected; the minority, who do, would still be able to do so.

    Microsoft seems to be intent on dragging all of their users down to the lowest common denominator. They either don't know how to provide for both novice and expert users, or they don't want to bother. Ironically, this is happening at a time when their software has become nearly universal, and the proportion of expert users must be higher than it has ever been.

    Abraham Lincoln is quoted as having said in a courtroom argument, "If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have? Four; calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg." Similarly, calling a bug a feature does not make it a feature... it just makes the bug unfixable.
    Last edited by jsachs177; 2012-02-02 at 12:25.

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    Did you read the first "NOTE" in the KB article? It says there is a method to allow a larger number to be opened.

    These types of design issues are always a trade off off functionality vs. time & effort. Limits imposed by software vendors always end up making some people angry. I can guarantee you that Microsoft has lots and lots of usage data to back up their decision.

    Joe

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    This is what the KB note says:

    {The following registry value may be modified to choose the number of files that may be selected while maintaining the context menu options.

    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Exp lorer
    Name : MultipleInvokePromptMinimum
    Type : DWORD
    Default : 15 (decimal)


    The registry change will go into effect after logging off and back on, or after terminating Windows Explorer (Explorer.exe) and re-launching the process.

    Note: a value of 16 is interpreted as "unlimited" for showing the options from the context menu, however it does not allow the actual opening of the documents selected if selecting more than 16. To allow the opening of more than 16 documents, set this key to a decimal value greater than the amount of documents you wish to open. Microsoft recommends only increasing this value to a reasonable number in a controlled environment and only where users really need this value increased.}

    I did not have that setting in my registry so had to add it.
    I tried it and set it to 45 and it opened all 45 when selected. But if select 1 more than the set limit it only opens the first selected file.
    So need to decide what is the most files you are ever going to need open. Have not tried it set to higher than 45 as I never open more than 5 files very rarely need more than 2. But that is my requirements yours may be different.
    Last edited by curiousclive; 2012-02-03 at 11:38.
    Clive

    All typing errors are my own work and subject to patents pending. Except errors by the spell checker. And that has its own patients.

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    Medico (2012-02-02)

  9. #8
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting Clive. I also did not have the DWord and added. To add the DWord, right click in Registry Editor and choose new DWord. After adding the DWord, right ckick and choose modify to change the value.
    Last edited by Medico; 2012-02-02 at 16:30.
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    I did see the note, but it's rather convoluted, and I didn't understand it correctly the first time.

    As JoeP517 said, it does describe a way of increasing the number of documents one can open. By modifying the registry.

    To sum up, here's what Microsoft did.

    They identified a usability problem: some users were accidentally opening large numbers of documents and had no way to stop the process once it started.

    They solved the problem by limiting the number of documents that Windows Explorer will open at one time to 15. But they did this with no explanation or feedback, so that the limit has every appearance of being a bug.

    Then they realized that some users have good reasons for opening more than 15 documents at once, so they let the arbitrary limit be changed (but not removed) through a registry entry. They documented it with a poorly written explanation in a support note whose title bears little relation to the problem. (If I hadn't taken the trouble to identify the cutoff point as 15, JoeP517, would you have found that note?)

    This is a hudge kludge!

    I know that Microsoft compiles lots of usage data, and it gets analyzed by a team of highly qualified usability experts. It's astonishing that they get such poor results! I suspect that the usability people are limited to analyzing prototypes and finished systems, and don't have any real input into design. Either they won't condescend to dirty their hands with it, or the engineering managers won't let them touch it. I can't think of any other way to explain the lack of follow-through.

  11. #10
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Well, there you go. It looks like you've got your fix. Don't sweat it;

    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Exp lorer
    Name : MultipleInvokePromptMinimum
    Type : DWORD
    Default : 15 (decimal)

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