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PapaJohn's Newsletter #103

Managing Files with Total Commander

A few weeks ago it took an hour to talk someone through getting video from a DVD into Movie Maker. Last weekend it took 3 hours with someone else. The difference was in the basic computer skills between the two users... mostly in their ability to do routine file management tasks. Finding folders, creating a new folder, renaming a file, moving files out of a downloaded zipped package, copying files from one folder to another, etc.... all the little routine tasks done all day long that add up to being fast and comfortable with your computer, and being ready to tackle the more challenging multimedia projects.

In digital or analog environments, file management is such basic skills that everyone assumes you know it... maybe you do, or maybe you're too embarrassed to admit you don't... or maybe you think you know it, but you really don't.

The analog world has file cabinets, hanging folders, closets and shoeboxes.

The digital world started by emulating the analog world... directories and subdirectories that were later referred to as folders and subfolders... attempts to translate our understanding of the analog world in the digital. But no matter what you called them, people couldn't see those things.

With Vista (and the Apple operating system) the operating systems are giving up trying to make the average user understand the real-world analogies... just let the system manage things for you. You don't need to know where a file is... it'll be there someplace. One statement I read about Vista said "... no matter how much or how little you remember about a file, you'll be able to find it in at least one of your virtual folders...."

I've been managing computer files from before computers had hard drives, when the floppy discs were stored in shoe boxes... and I'm in the middle of beta testing the Vista operating system... in many or most ways, the files haven't changed. Nor has my primary tool for managing them. I realize I'm not an average user and it's sometimes difficult to understand what a newbie to computers, Movie Maker and Photo Story knows.

On DOS operating systems I used Norton Commander to manage files... it didn't get carried forward into the Windows environment by Symantec, so some diehard users created Windows Commander to emulate it, and that later turned into Total Commander, where it is today.

Let's take a quick look at Total Commander... it's a double-paned window, in a way like Movie Maker with collections in the upper part and projects in the lower, sometimes sharing the viewer/monitor. But in this case, it's one view on the left and another on the right. The two panes can be any folder of any drive in one, and any other one in the other. I've noted two things in this snapshot, looking at my laptop's C drive

  • the drive is a nominal 100 GB with 16.4 GB of free space
  • I've opted to see the 'Quick View Panel' in the right pane, which changes dynamically as I select folders or files in the left pane. I selected the Graphics and Images folder and in a split second the quick view tells me there are 376 files in 28 folders (directories) in it, using a total of 1.4 GB.

Main Working Window

This app has lots of features to explore. I'll only be hitting the highlights of those of most interest to users or Movie Maker and Photo Story... features that pertain to multimedia files more so than text documents, spreadsheets, and databases.

... before getting into it further, here's a couple short notes...


Vista Corner... I downloaded build #5381 this week... it's billed as the "Ultimate Beta Interim English build" and it's been the most difficult of the builds for me to install... the progressive releases seem to be more and more demanding when it comes to hardware and drivers. I've always had to add the audio driver, but this build also needs custom setups of other multimedia controllers, things I don't yet understand what and how to do. 

P.S... follow-up note about the 5 free online hosts of Issue #101

How many views and comments has there been? The viewing tally on the 3 services of the 5 that I put the two sample videos on...  a couple weeks later...

  • Google Video - stats not provided
  • YouTube - movie - 94 views; story - 34 views
  • PutFile - movie - 39 views; story - 20 views
  • VideoEgg - stats not provided
  • Addicting Clips - movie - 242 views; story - 198 views
I'm still waiting for the first comment to be posted about either of them on any of the services.

I submitted my first video with a price tag on it to Google Video... the ' Mission to Mars' flick with my grandson Nick in it. I priced it at 99 cents to download and 19 cents for a 'day pass'. Google provides potential purchasers with a 30 second free sample. It took 8+ days from the uploaded WP4 file to get through the process... a couple days to get to the status of "Video is verified; stay tuned - it will be live shortly", and the rest of the time to go live, which hasn't happened yet. I'll let you know when it does.

Newsletter 56Newsletter #56 was about a Renaissance Handfasting Ceremony... we'd call it an engagement today.

I'll be videoing the follow-up event on Sunday, May 28th... the wedding ceremony in true renaissance style. Festivities like swordfights between the best man and others will go all day, and I'm committed to get as much of the action that I can.

I'm looking forward to it. The bride and groom and I have a date tonight at Barnes & Noble to go over the video game plan, which will include a web-site, online videos, and a DVD.

I purchased my first shotgun mic to mount on my camcorder, for better audio... more focused sound with less wind, crowd, camcorder motors, and other ambient noise. I just received it, and did a couple quick tests to verify it works... I'll devote next week's newsletter to it.

Knowing I'll be needing lots of hard drive space for the editing... it's time for some serious file management, which fits with the subject of this newsletter. I'll do checking and cleaning up with Total Commander.

Vacation Planning - we'll be leaving in late August... to Zurich for 21 days around Switzerland and Italy , over to Istanbul for 5 days, and back home in late September. It'll be the first time I've visited Europe with a camcorder. We'll be traveling with a tablet PC and not my laptop, which could mean a 4 week break from newsletters.   


.... back to the main topic...  

Directory Tree

Here's the download link - Total Commander - v6.54a

We'll cover these aspects of the utility:

  • browsing folders and files
  • searching and reviewing to help with pruning and archiving
  • thumbnail versus list views
  • quick access to commonly used folders
  • making or opening zipped packages
  • splitting large files to transport on discs and reassemble elsewhere
  • copy files to and from websites

There are many features that won't be covered. If you decide to try or use it, there will be plenty more for you to explore.



Browsing folders and files...

You can open Total Commander more than once... like having multiple Internet Explorer browser windows open at the same time.... at the right I show its directory (folder) tree open in one of them, and browsing the contents of selected folders with another copy... in the images shown below. Doing it that way means I don't have to redo the directory scan after checking a selected folder.

Sometimes I'll be in a Movie Maker folder playing with image and xml files in one pane, in my captured video folder in another pane, in the custom profiles of Photo Story 3 in a 3rd pane, reaching over to another computer of my network such as the Vista system in another pane, etc... anything more than having two panes open at once needs a second instance of the app.

If the quick view in the intro section above, showing some drive and folder info, didn't impress you, let's go down into some of the folders. Single clicking a folder shows the quick view summary of its contents. Double clicking it opens it and takes you into the contents.

Single clicking on a file shows you a quick view, as best it can. If it's not enough, you can double-click it to open the file in its associated app.



Here's a folder with BMP images. Select a file (single click) and the quick view shows the image.

Quick View - Pictures

Here's a folder with audio (WAV) files. Select a file and the quick view plays the tune so you can hear it.

Quick View - Audio

Here's another folder with some video files. Select a file and the quick view plays the movie. In this sample it's playing a Photo Story 3 story.

Quick View - Video

Here it is in the Movie Maker Shared\AddOnTFX folder, with files such as xml for custom effects, transitions and title overlays. Select an XML file and the quick view shows the text in it... besides reading, you can select some text and copy it to another file.

Quick View - Test                    

Search, Review, Prune, Archive...

I know computer users who go through the life of a computer without using more than 10 GB of space, without deleting or archiving anything... they don't do multimedia work.

My C drive is a nominal 100 GB. External drives are E with 105 GB, G with 75 GB, and H with 60 GB. With 340 GB of space spread across 4 drives, finding files and managing them is still a constant chore.

Let's assume I have time to review the movies I made last year... here's how I'd step through doing it.

Use Commands > Search from the main menu > search for all files ending with .wmv > include all 4 drives in the search > go to the Advanced tab and set the search criteria to only find files dated between Jan 1 and Dec 31 of 2005 > Press the Start search button > the resulting list of 581 files is then sent to a working pane by pressing the 'Feed to listbox' button.

Show > Quick View Panel turns the other panel into a media viewer... as I go through the list, I can press the Delete button on my keyboard for any of the files with no long term value.... archive the ones I want to keep, by moving them someplace else... or just sit all day and enjoy another viewing of last years videos.  

Search and Review

The Thumbnail view of the left pane is probably better than the list view, as you can see the first frame of each video without loading it into the player.

Thumbnail View

Thumbnail View

The Show > Thumbnail view gets you what you expect... the image if it's a still, or the first frame of a video.

It's one of the many features that parallels the viewing of files in the Windows XP operating system.

I carry a 1/2 GB thumb drive around with me, which has all of the tools I need... Total Commander uses only 2 MB of space, and I can run it from the thumb drive on any computer from Windows 95 to Vista .

Note that I'm showing BMP files as thumbnails... one shortfall of Total Commander is that it doesn't show JPG files this way... maybe with one of the many plug-ins available for it, but not in the basic app.




Commonly Used Folders

 Instant Access to Commonly Used Folders

I'm often in the Movie Maker subfolders to work on XML files...

... and in the Photo Story 3 folder to work on custom profiles

... the Vista computer on my network to round up screen shots

... Bernadette's computer downstairs   etc. etc.

The Control-D keyboard keys open this drop-down list of commonly used folders. The folder can be on any computer in our home network.

It's an easy way to quickly get to folders in lower levels such as those for "My Pictures" or "Recorded TV".




Make or Open Zipped Packages   If you want to make a zipped package to email or upload, there's no need to go to another software package like WinZip.

Make Zipped Package

Select the files and tell Total Commander to send them to a compressed folder. It has zipping and unzipping features built into it.   When I told it to do it to the 3 selected png files, I got this zipped package...

Made Zipped Package

It defaults to naming the zip file with the same name as the first file in the selected group.  

If you download or get a zipped package from someone, you handle it as if it was a regular folder.  

Here's what it looks like when I double-clicked the new file... the 3 PNG files are in it.    

Into Zipped Package                  

Split a File

Split a Large File to Transport or Store on CDs...   If you have a large DV-AVI file and want to pack it onto some CDs for future use as a source file, select the file and use Files > Split File.

It'll put the split parts in the folder that's in the other pane... see the screen shot below.

It neatly cut this 2.1 GB DV-AVI file up into 4 parts, each of which fits on a standard CD... the crc file is used to check the files and help put them back together on the other computer, or on this one if I need it again after deleting.

When I double-click the museum.001 file, Total Commander offers to put the files back together.

Instead of putting them together, I tried renaming them to an AVI extension.... the renamed museum.001 file played fine, both video and audio. The other split segments didn't.

Split Files

If all you wanted was a DV-AVI of the first part of the big one, it's a way to get it sized to put on a CD...

This splitting feature could support you copying the source files to discs and rebuilding them if and when needed. You can use data CDs or DVDs to store the files.   

Transfer Files to and from Websites...

Maintaining a website requires the uploading of files...

ftp connection

There are browser-based connections provided by hosting services, but they are often awkward and slow...

The use of ftp (file transfer protocol) is usually easier and faster. Total Commander includes ftp software.

The screen shots show the ftp connection I use to maintain my website. When I select Net > FTP Connect from the main menu, I select 1&1 - from the personalized ftp list, and then the Connect button. In a few seconds the website is in one pane and my local copy on the C drive in the other.

Setting up a new connection is as easy as filling out a few lines... host name from your website host provider, and your user name and password.

The optional but handy entries tell Total Commander what folders you want to set as the defaults when you connect. You can sync the remote and local folders.

Here's part of what it looks like when I connect to my website at the 1&1 service. The left pane with some of the info spray-painted over is the folder at 1&1. The right pane is the same folder on my laptop's hard drive.

MM2 Website

ftp limit

With Total Commander, folders on servers are treated the same way as folders on your computer. See from the message at the left... you can have up to 10 ftp connections open at the same time.

If you have multiple websites on one or many servers, you can have connections open to all of them.

The Quick View feature doesn't work with the files on a server... but it works with those on other local hard drives. If you don't know what a file is on a website, you need to download a copy and look.

Conclusions and Closing

If you're using a computer to make movies and stories, you are already doing file management... somehow. How you do it is by method(s) you're familiar and comfortable with. You don't usually have time to try other methods... and you may not have any reason to try something else.

All I hope to do with this newsletter is share some info about how I do file management. If you see things in Total Commander that fit your management style, try it out... you can decide to use it a bit or a lot.

I'm a Microsoft MVP, but I'm not saying that My Computer is my favorite or most used file management tool... nor am I saying that file management in Vista is going to win me over from my long-term use of Total Commander... I use My Computer regularly, but not near as much as I use Total Commander.

I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at: Windows Movie

Have a great week... PapaJohn



Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
Photo Story 2 -

Products and Services

I'm involved in many things that support users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, and adding more regularly. Some are free and others reasonably priced.

Radio and Podcasting


TheDVShow is the only weekly Podcast having more useful information about desktop video editing and production than anywhere else on the Web. Digital video editing, nonlinear editing, streaming media, software releases, tutorials, business tips, technical help, download of the day and news on the latest products to make everything easier. It's where professional and consumer desktop video users go to stay on the cutting edge.

Call the phone mail machine to get your technical question answered on the air... call (206)-203-3516 The radio broadcast is from Boston, and the website has downloadable podcast files. The June 19th 2005 podcast was the first 'bi-weekly' show with a segment about Movie Maker 2.

Do Amazing ThingsBooks and Magazines

Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on, published by Microsoft Press...

Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with support on the publisher's forum - Friends of Ed

MaximumPC's winter 2005 quarterly special... had a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2'. The special edition of the video made for it is now on my website as a file download.

The November 2005 edition of Maximum PC had a well done reworked 6 page reprint of the same article, starting on page 42 after the Happy 20th Birthday article for Windows.

Learning VirtualDub - published by Virtual Dub Packt Publishing, is the first book about VirtualDub software. I wrote the first chapter about downloading and setting up the software: VirtualDub, VDubMod and AVISynth.


Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - - the site's 3 goals are: an online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, a detailed tutorial for PhotoStory 3, and helping you solve Movie Maker 2 problems.

PhotoStory 2 - - a detailed tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site. 

Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups

I'm a regular on many online forums and newsgroups, the key ones being:

Forums are open to all for viewing, but require registration of those who want to post. Moderators actively participate to ensure the forum discussions move forward and stay on track.

Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at Windows Movie Makers


Movie Maker 2 forum at Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by the participants.

Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

Photo Story 2 newsgroup -

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -

Weekly Newsletters

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story newsletter. The annual subscription is $20 and the link to subscribe is on the main page of my Movie Maker website at:

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#104 - May 20 - an external shotgun mic
#105 - May 27 - open
#106 - June 3 - open

Newsletters issued more than 6 weeks ago are posted by Rob Morris to an Archive Site on his Windows Movie Makers' website. Links from my website pages to specific newsletters make it easier for viewers to see the content of both while browsing a topic.

Drop an email to suggest a newsletter topic... I can use more requests rather than fewer.


Add-On Transitions and Effects

Transition Maker 2 (TM2) is a utility for the ultimate in making your own personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2. It's a joint product from Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself.

I've beta tested some of the Pixelan packages and think very highly of their people and products.


ProDAD's Adorage packages for Movie Maker 2 are  additional sources of very professionally developed transitions and effects. And here are the links

Package for Movie Maker - Volume 1  Transiitons Effects

PapaJohn's Video Effects

PapaJohn's Transitions

Personal Database

Managing your personal information is more of a challenge as hard drives get bigger and the internet more robust. 

My personal database has been an ongoing project over many years, and is now available to others. A tutorial about using it is on the Managing > Personal Database page of my site, and more info is in the database package itself.

It's free for the asking to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request and I'll return it with the zipped file, which is less than 1 MB.

To others it's $10. To order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database page. 


Neptune GalleryOnline Gallery 

An online gallery that fully aligns with the main priority of the website is the 'PapaJohn Expert Zone' at neptune.

Check it at Neptune and the Distributing > Neptune page of the website, where there's a developing tutorial about how to use the service.


in conjunction with the Portage, Michigan library, I offer two free training sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop. Scheduled sessions are:

Monday - June 5 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

Monday - July 10 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Monday - August 7 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

The classroom has a large screen overhead projection system... and individual laptops for each attendee to use. You learn by doing, with a little guidance from me.

Other fee-based services If you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail a copy and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects, and provide detailed instructions about how to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 (no cost if it's not the right solution or doesn't work) - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $75 per hour - send an email - and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.

Wedding combo website/video packages - check the bottom branch of the Movie Maker 2 website for a sample of what you can expect for the online portion of the package.

© 2006 - PapaJohn
Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in US the and/or other countries.


About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from
John 'PapaJohn' Buechler John "PapaJohn" Buechler, of Kalamazoo, Mich., goes by PapaJohn online. An avid user of Movie Maker since its first release, and a regular supporter of the community of Movie Maker users, John received a 2003 MVP award from Microsoft for that support. In March 2003, he started a comprehensive website about Movie Maker 2 at He maintains the website, writes books and articles, teaches, and provides support services - all for the community of Movie Maker 2 users. An engineer by formal education, John is a computer database and multimedia expert by business and personal experience. He co-authored the first book about Movie Maker 2 and is actively working on a second one. You can find his advice in the Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup and in the Windows Movie Makers Forums.

This newsletter is republished with permission of John "PapaJohn" Buechler.
Please note that this is an archive of newsletters and some information may become outdated. PapaJohn, and the webmaster of this site, provides this information "AS IS" with no warranties.

Visit - PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index



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Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.