What’s Wrong With This Picture?

By on January 3, 2006


Do you see it?

The last directory in the path in the Address Bar and the folder structure do not match. This confused me for awhile because I was slowly typing the path in the Address Bar, waiting for the auto-completion that never happened.

There might be a good reason for this, but none comes to mind. I am by no means a MS-hater, but this kind of thing annoys me.



  1. I thought the problem was the ‘DRM’ folder at first…

    If you dig a little deeper in that folder you’ll see that the ‘Shared Music\Pictures’ becomes ‘My Music\Pictures’, and to further break with consistency ‘Shared Video’ becomes ‘My Videos’ (note the added ‘s’ in Videos).

    Since these folders are cloned (for lack of a better word) in the same folder depth as your hard drives, cd-roms and control panel you see the same dual-naming behavior there too.

    Doing a quick test I can’t find any other instances of this, but I agree: I can’t see any good reason for this. It would seem to only add confusion when searching for something. It leads to the question of just where this behavior is dictated…

  2. Obviously these “My” and “Shared” folders are mapped internally to some special security rules that govern which users can access which folders. Why they couldn’t keep the mappings internal to the OS I’m not sure — seems like even if “Shared Documents” is just a label on top of an internal folder name, why do we care?

    Regarding why they labeled it “Shared Documents” instead of just “Documents,” my official guess is so that if you maped a drive to it from a different machine, the default share name would be more meaningful than just “\SomeMachine\Documents.” But I could be comletely wrong :)

  3. It actually has to do with localization and how the folder appears in non-filesystem UI. Microsoft used to have a rule to not localize filesystem names. i.e. files have english names.

    When the shell started using filesystem names in non-filesystem UI, we needed a method to localize it. This is why desktop.ini has a pointer to a shell32 string table entry. i.e. LocalizedResourceName=@shell32.dll,-21785

    This technique was leveraged for making folders more discoverable. However, as you’ve discovered: makes it inconsistent in some places. Given the huge usability wins in the 80% case, it was kept this way.

    The easiest thing you can do is simply remove the “localizedresourcename” from desktop.ini.

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