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Using the File Meta Association Manager

This page describes the File Meta Association Manager in version 1.4. Earlier versions have a subset of the same capability: version 1.3 did not support extending existing property handlers or Info Tips; version 1.2 and before did not support custom profiles.

The job of the File Meta Association Manager is to configure the extensions to which metadata is to be added. File Metadata has no effect on extension until it has been configured. Here is the main screen:


To add metadata for an extension, the steps are:

1. Select one or more File Extensions

The File Extensions list shows all of the file extensions with entries in the registry and the current property handler for each extension, if any. When you click on an extension, the right-hand side of the window shows the current Preview Panel etc. settings for the extension. If the File Meta property handler is involved, the current profile is selected in the combo box on the left. When File Meta Association Manager is opened, the file extensions are sorted so that extensions with just the File Meta property handler are first, then extensions where an existing property handler has been extended, then extensions with any other property handler, then finally extensions with no property handler.

2. Choose a profile of editable properties

When you select a profile in the combo box on the left, the right-hand side of the window shows the Preview Panel etc. settings that would be applied when the Add File Meta Handler button is clicked. If there is no existing handler, this is just the entries specified by the profile itself (and <None> is not valid). If there is an existing handler, this is the existing settings for the extension merged with the settings specified by the profile.

File Meta Association Manager controls the properties shown in Explorer's preview panel (at the bottom of the main window), info tip (shown when the mouse hovers over a file) and in the Details tab of the Properties dialog for a file. In the case of the Details tab, the properties are shown in the grouping in which they will appear in the Explorer property details tab.

There are two hardcoded profiles. One is the Office DSOFile profile, taken from the DSOFile sample DLL. The other is the Simple profile, designed to provide a useful basic set of metadata. It is also possible to create Custom Profiles, with any desired selection of properties. Extending an existing property handler always results in the creation of a custom profile with the same name as the extension.

Note that when an existing handler is extended, a new profile is always created from the existing settings for the extension merged with the selected profile, if any. Any previous custom profile for the extension is overwritten. If you have extended an existing handler, then removed the extension, and now want to reapply the extension with similar settings, select the previous custom profile as the profile to be merged.

3. Click the Add File Meta Handler button

This applies the changes, updating the registry as required.

Warning: it is strongly recommended that if you extend an existing handler, then you remove the File Meta property handler for that extension before you remove the software that provided the original handler (e.g. Office for .docx files, or a package for managing PDF files). Otherwise, the registry entries for that extension could finish up in an inconsistent state which could take you a lot of time and effort to unravel. The principle to remember is: Last In First Out.

Because Explorer caches registry keys that it has read, it may be necessary to restart Explorer before the changes take effect. You can do this using the Restart Explorer button, or you will be prompted to do so when exiting the Association Manager.

To remove the File Meta handler, select an extension to which it has been applied, then click Remove File Meta Handler. All registry settings will be restored to their previous values. As before, it may be necessary to restart Explorer before the changes take effect.

Custom profiles

Custom profiles are managed in the custom profiles window, opened by clicking the Custom Profiles button in the main window. The custom profiles window is shown below:


Use this screen as follows:
  • Choose a profile to work with
  • To add groups and properties to the Full details, drag them from the lists of Property Groups and Properties available on the system
  • To add properties to the Preview Panel or Info Tip, drag them from Full details
  • To change the order in which properties will be displayed, drag them up and down the Full details, Preview Panel or Info Tip lists
  • To remove properties, right click them and select Remove
  • To change whether an * appears before a property, right click it and select Toggle *
I don’t actually know what the * means, but many Microsoft profiles use it, so I’ve given you the means to set it. The documentation says that the presence of an * means:

Do not show the property in the Preview Pane as instructed in the PreviewDetails registry key value. See the example that follows the next table if that property's value is not set.

There doesn’t appear to be an example. I, for one, am none the wiser.

Last edited Sep 7, 2016 at 12:40 PM by Dijji, version 6


xhiris Aug 11 at 4:02 AM 
If present on a key, the preview pane will hide the field if it doesn't have a value. For example if there is no Title, it will not show the entire row for the Title in the preview pane.