One simple feature missing from many programs – Where is my file?

I only just realized this – I was working with KeePass to set up a synced copy of my password file to a SkyDrive folder. Of course I wanted to make a backup copy first, which I did with a “Save As Copy” command. Now the fun question – I have a file open in KeePass – which one is it?

Most of the time, you can figure this out by opening the Save As command and seeing where the file dialog opens. But in this case, since I’d used the “Save As Copy” command I wasn’t feeling deeply confident that would work. The file name is in the title bar, but not the path. Finally I realized the only true way to be sure which file I had open was to explicitly open the file I wanted open. Not really optimal…

So the question you have to ask yourself, if you’re writing a document-centric application – how easy is it for a user to check the path of the file they currently have open? Ways to make this available:

  • Put the path in the status bar, especially if you don’t have anything there now.
  • Mouseover popup when the user mouses over the filename in the title bar. (But you shouldn’t put the full path in the title bar, since the taskbar and other applications show the title bar to show what’s running, and a list that has nothing but “c:\user\Norm\My Documents\proje…” ┬áisn’t helpful)
  • My favorite: under the File menu, have “Information” to open a small dialog that shows the properties of the currently open file – file size, last saved, and of course, the full path.