How Crazy Can It Get?

“Open With” vs. “Send To”

A comment was made, in my last blog post Comments and Ratings > Send To > ME! regarding the use of “Open With” somewhat superseding “Send To.”

Greg said:

As you point out, it’s great for sending files to various editing programs, but it’s somewhat superceded by the Open With feature, which remembers a list of compatible editors based on file type.

This is a good point, and below is my response which I have put in a blog in order to keep track of it and not lose it in comments. I would like to add these to the original blog as an addendum, but I’m not sure I can if it has gone to the Clubhouse. So, I will make this a separate addendum.

Firstly, "Open With…" doesn’t appear for all file types and in every situation.”Send To" does.

Firstly and a half, lol, is "Open With" remembers it’s setting per file type. For example, I have 12 items that can open a plain text file. It remembers these. But if I encounter a new file type , say XYZ,, then "Open With" may have nothing available to open the file, and “Open With” may not even be available on the context menu. Even holding down the shift key while right clicking might not force it to appear. Yet, "Send To" still works fine.

Secondly, if the “Open With” is there then I have to set it up the first time for each individual file type for each application I want to use to open it.  With “Send To” this is only done once – period – and works for all file types. Sending a file type to an application that it doesn’t understand raises the same type of exception you would get by dropping it on the shortcut or opening it with the open dialog.

Thirdly, the “Send To” is more like a drop target rather than an open target type operation. Because of this you can “Send To” mail, or directories which “Open With” doesn’t handle well.

Fourthly, “Open With” doesn’t work with folders. “Send To” can. This won’t always make sense, but it is doable. For example, right clicking a folder and sending it to a script that processes all the files in the directory could be done.

And fifthly, one case that doesn’t work well with “Open With” is when you have multiple files selected. For example, programs designed to handle multiple files dropped on them can process all of them. So, Notepad can’t do this, but Notepad++ can. Select 5 text files and “Send To” Notepad++ and it opens them all in separate tabs. Can’t do that with “Open With.”

Sixthly, you can have PowerShell or Batch scripts or shortcuts to them in the “Send To” folder. Selected files are passed as parameters, and you can do some interesting things. “Send To” is available when multiple files are selected – doing this with “Open With” – not so much.

Maybe. Anyway, I think “somewhat superseded” is a bit premature, but thank you for bringing this up. Both are useful and have their place.

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3 responses

  1. Greg

    Excellent comparison of the two features, Jeff. I think Send To has a number of advantages, particularly the ability to work with files in batch and the flexibility of sending files to target locations as well as editing applications. I\’m not bothered much by the issues of having to "register" which programs you want to use with the Open With command, since I don\’t routinely encounter altogether new file types that often.I remember the early days of file associations, when you had to manually add command line switches (%1) just to get them to work properly. We\’ve certainly come a long way in terms usability. PS: You didn\’t add a trackback to your other post. Shame, shame. 🙂

    February 19, 2009 at 7:34 am

  2. Jeffrey

    OK – I added a trackback. Can this be added in Writer? So far, I\’ve been adding them in a separate operation in the web app. Seems like you should be able to do this in Writer. Hmmm…. Maybe not?

    February 19, 2009 at 4:39 pm

  3. technogran

    No Jeffrey you can\’t add trackbacks inside Writer at this present time, but the guys are always open to suggestions for new features so why don\’t you suggest it to them? Look under \’help\’ inside Writer.

    February 20, 2009 at 10:10 am

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