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  1. #1
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    confused about the desktop display of folders

    I have a folder on my desktop called PHOTOS that contains...photos! It appears as a folder icon with the PHOTOS name and I can double click it to open it and see the many files inside - it isn't a shortcut.

    But when I first tried to see it listed under the desktop with Windows Explorer, I couldn't. I could see all the other items on the desktop listed but not this one particular folder. I tried the desktop under admin, under all users, but no luck.

    A light bulb went on in my head and I right clicked on the PHOTOS folder to see the path to it. It is - C:\Documents and Settings\User\Desktop. Then I went to WinExp and put that path in - BINGO - there is the PHOTOS folder in the list. Great, except now other folders on the desktop are not shown.

    What it boils down to is the desktop is displaying folders with different pathnames leading to different "desktops" in the namespace, some are under "user", some are under "all users".

    The only way I've found to display everything that is on the desktop with WinExp is to click on DESKTOP at the top of the logical tree that appears when WinExp is opened.

    I understand that the desktop is a virtual folder that can bring in many parts of the namespace, but what I don't understand is how the folders I have on the desktop got different pathnames, i.e. how are some under all users and others under user? I am the only user and I don't log on in any other way than the default admin.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    All Users is a default User. XP puts a number of items in the All User folder, because they are common for all users (doesn't really matter if you're the only user; XP uses a generic setup that will accommodate multiple users by default). When you create a user profile (the one you use) it also employs hooks to the All Users folder.

    Folders that you create on your own desktop when you're logged in will only appear on your desktop (and in your desktop folder under your user profile).
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
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  3. #3
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    Ah ha! Another 'Brother Dave Gardner' fan. Ain't that weird?

    Experience is truly the best teacher.

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  4. #4
    Silver Lounger mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clif9710 View Post
    I understand that the desktop is a virtual folder that can bring in many parts of the namespace, but what I don't understand is how the folders I have on the desktop got different pathnames, i.e. how are some under all users and others under user? I am the only user and I don't log on in any other way than the default admin.
    The desktop isn't a virtual folder, it is an actual folder. But there are multiple desktop folders, one for each user. Additionally, there is the All Users (XP) or Public (Windows 7) folder. What you see as the desktop is a combination of your Desktop folder and the Public Desktop folder.

    If something is to be visible only to you, you should put it in your Desktop folder. However, if you want it to be visible to all users, you should put it in the Public Desktop folder. Often a program will ask you if you want everyone to have access to it, or just you. It then puts its shortcut into the appropriate Desktop folder.

    It sounds like you are running Windows 7, and that you are seeing the "Favorites" listing on the left side of the screen. The "Desktop" item in the "Favorites" listing will always be your desktop, not the public desktop.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    The desktop isn't a virtual folder, it is an actual folder. But there are multiple desktop folders, one for each user. Additionally, there is the All Users (XP) or Public (Windows 7) folder. What you see as the desktop is a combination of your Desktop folder and the Public Desktop folder.
    ... which makes Desktop a virtual folder:

    Virtual folders, however, do not actually exist on the file system; they are instead presented through Windows Explorer as a tree of folders that the user can navigate. This is known as the Shell namespace. On Windows XP systems, the root of this namespace is the Desktop virtual folder,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Folders

    Bruce
    Last edited by BruceR; 2013-09-21 at 10:39.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post
    ... which makes Desktop a virtual folder:

    Bruce
    The only difficulty I find with that explanation is that I can boot into a non-Windows OS and navigate to my Users logical drive\bbearren\desktop where I have real shortcuts, files and folders. Any changes I make through that medium are reflected when I reboot back into Windows. It is indeed a real folder, since it behaves like a real folder when it cannot be seen by Windows.

    What the user sees on his/her desktop is an amalgam of their desktop folder and the All Users desktop folder. That may be a special folder, but its sources are two very real folders.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbearren View Post
    What the user sees on his/her desktop is an amalgam of their desktop folder and the All Users desktop folder. That may be a special folder, but its sources are two very real folders.
    That's the Desktop folder to which I and the original poster were referring. The one that you agree is virtual, but mrjimphelps did not.

    Bruce

  8. #8
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    I think that is why MS makes things complicated yet the original intent is to make it simple. It starts to confuse.

    A folder explorer displays everything will confuse ordinary users: Which are physically real and which are not?

    I hope they build options into the folder explorer, or tabs, that display physical folders only. Then another option or tab to display virtual and special folders only. Surely, keep the present show-everything display as well. Now we have a way to find out.

    I treat (secretly inside the mind) virtual folders/files as 'mapped' folders (just like mapped network drive which is not a real drive). And as pointers too. They just 'point' you to the correct physical entity. Maybe a better way is to treat each as 'address'. Address is not real, it just points to the physical location. And then there is virtual address space ... enough confusion.

    Maybe I open a can of worms here. I know I know, years of software studies ... and "You cannot differentiate between pointers, shortcuts, address, virtual folder, special folders, links, mapped space ...!"
    Treat me as an ordinary user please.

    Just like language, a word 'car' has 'properties' if you 'right click on it'. But it is not a physical entity. It points to a physical presence (a physical 'folder', with 'subfolder' such as Ford, GM).

    We start to generate lots of names to differentiate 'virtual' pointers: shortcuts, Shell namespace. To me, it is just a pointer. May be layered pointers (pointer within a pointer, virtual within a virtual). Just a pointer to me. Like the word "car" in language or the written word of same. It is not real, but it points to a real physical entity.

    And then, in mathematics, if we create a variable 'c' be a car, then c is a pointer that points to the word "car". We can let 'x' be a car too.

    I hope someone like BruceR, and other coders, create a folder explorer app that can separate the virtual stuffs from the real stuffs. At least, right click the folder and pops up properties telling us it is not the real stuff, and where it points to.
    Now, life is simpler.

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