Windows Tips: Copy a File Path, Show or Hide Extensions

You know those times when you want to upload a new photo to, say, Facebook or Pinterest? The typical browser-based upload tool forces you to click through countless folders until you find the one you want. It's a slow and often maddening dance.

Fortunately, there's an easier way.

If you already have the photo open in Explorer, you can copy its file path to the clipboard, then paste that path into the upload dialog box. Here's how:

  1. Open Windows Explorer and find the photo (or document) in question.
  2. Hold down the Shift key, then right-click the photo.
  3. In the context menu that appears, find and click Copy as path. This copies the file location to the clipboard. (FYI, if you don't hold down Shift when you right-click, the Copy as path option won't appear.)
  4. Now, in your browser, head to Facebook or wherever, access the upload tool, and click Browse.
  5. Press Ctrl-V to paste in the file location, then click OK.

That's all there is to it! No hunting through a bunch of folders to find the file you want--just paste the path and you're done.

I must give credit where credit is due; I first heard about this clever tip from Windows guru Ed Bott. But it's too great not to share; once you start using it, you'll wonder how you got along without it.

How to Show or Hide File Extensions

Recently I've been downloading some audiobooks in MP3 format. I wanted to import them into iTunes for listening on the go, but there's one problem: iTunes (and, more importantly, my iPhone) can't bookmark an MP3 file. Thus, in between listening sessions, it'll be difficult for me to resume my book from where I left off.

iTunes can, however, bookmark its own audiobook files. So if I convert my MP3s to Apple's AAC format, then change the file extension so iTunes thinks they're audiobooks, I'm good to go.

The first part is easy. In iTunes, just right-click the MP3 and choose Create AAC Version. That will eventually produce an audio file with an m4a extension. But I need to change that to m4b, the extension iTunes recognizes as an audiobook.

I had no problem finding the file in Windows Explorer--but the file extension was missing! Or, more accurately, hidden. That's the default setting in Windows nowadays, the idea being to keep you from monkeying with files and causing system problems.

This kind of monkeying, however, is harmless. I just needed to un-hide the extensions. Here's how:

  1. In Windows 7 (and, I think, Vista), click Start, then type extension.
  2. Click Show or hide file extensions.
  3. In the Folder Options box that appears, clear the check box next to Hide extensions for known file types, then click OK.

That's it! Now you should see extensions for most common files. And in my case, changing that audio file's extension was as easy as right-clicking it and choosing Rename.

If you want to hide the extensions again after you're done, just repeat the process and re-check the box mentioned in Step 3.

If you've got a hassle that needs solving, send it my way. I can't promise a response, but I'll definitely read every e-mail I get--and do my best to address at least some of them in the PCWorld Hassle-Free PC blog. My 411: hasslefree@pcworld.com. You can also sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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