Windows 7 Explorer Sluggish? There’s a Fix!

Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Yet another thing that I’ve been suffering with and finally decided to tackle and straighten out! On my monster laptop, which is running Windows 7 64bit and does almost everything faster than believable, Windows Explorer has been driving me batty. It was slow to display the contents of folders and when I tried to go to a different folder which was far away in the file tree, it was always hopping me back to where I was. My stupid workaround was to close Explorer each time that happened and start over again. Not exactly efficient.

It turns out the my My Document folder had been set to be optimized for Pictures somehow, and that was causing windows to try to generate thumbnails or something every time I looked inside a folder. I can’t tell you how that happened, but switching this


to this


solved the problem.

You make this change by right-clicking on the folder and going to the Customize tab. If you try to change this setting on a folder and can’t find the Customize tab, then you need to navigate directly to the folder rather than through a dynamic link. What this meant in my case was to navigate to C:\Users\Marc D Anderson\Documents rather than going to the same place via Libraries –> Documents –> My Documents.

Hope this helps some other folks out there!


"Please Upgrade Your Browser to IE8 or Above": But I’m Already Running IE8!

This one is from way off in left field, but it explains many oddities that I’ve seen over the last 6 or more months, I think. Stick with me as I explain it. There are some goodies along the way, as well as the solution to this problem. At the very least, I get to gratuitously stick a bunch of cool images and logos into a pretty long post.

imageYesterday I saw a tweet from my good friends over at TripIt (if you travel, even only occasionally, you *must* try TripIt!) about all the cool sites that are now integrating with them. One imageof those, called Tripline, caught my eye. An article at TripIt’s blog called How Many Third Party Apps Have You Synced with TripIt? says:

Easily make sharable, animated trips with photos, music, links, and stories.  Once you connect your Tripline account with TripIt, you can import your TripIt trips into Tripline, which will automatically create a travel map for this trip, equipped with travel dates and places. It’s a great way to share your trips with friends, or relive them later.

To get started, create your free Tripline account, then connect your TripIt account on their settings page.

imageWimageell, yeah, that sounded awesome. So I signed up immediately using the browser on my iPhone from my couch. Of course, that experience left a little to be desired, so today I went to load up Tripline on my laptop, and the site told me that I had an unsupported browser and I should upgrade to IE8.

Now wait a cotton-pickin’ minute! I am running IE8!

imageCome to think of it, Microsoft’s sites have told me I should upgrade my browser for months, too, and way before IE9 was in beta. (See, this goes back a while.) Proud Microsoft supporter that I am, I assumed that they had a bug in their browser detection and kept ignoring it.

Well, this really annoyed me, so I turned to Twitter for help, and my pals Matt Bramer (@IOnline247) and Brian T Jackett (@BrianTJackett) suggested turning off add-ons and checking the Compatibility Mode, respectively. Nope and nope. However, since I had imageChrome installed and told me that I was running Chrome, which was claiming to be IE8 (this was a red herring), I uninstalled Chrome, imageGoogle Gears, and imageChrome Frame. Still no dice. At least was telling me at that point that I was running IE8, but on Windows XP!image I have been running imageWindows 7 since the beta, thank you very much! (FWIW, I like Chrome, but even though Matt keeps telling me to switch to it completely, my clients mainly use IE, and so I mainly use IE. Besides, I’ve used IE since imageversion 1.0. Why switch?)

Where the heck is this going, you might ask? Well, stay with me.

Since Tripline seemed really intriguing, and this whole “you’re running an old browser” thing was now truly pissing me off, I decided to email Tripline to see if they could tell me why they wanted to upgrade my already fairly fresh browser. Here, I probably owe the Tripline folks an apology, since I had an inkling that it wasn’t a problem on their end, but I really didn’t know.

Well, it was Byron at Tripline HQ to the rescue, I’ll tell you. Unlike many support experiences (don’t get me started), this one was A#1 top notch. I got an email back almost immediately, and Byron really wanted to figure this one out.

Byron suggested the Compatibility View angle (as we already know, that was a dead end), but in his next email, he asked me to check what my browser was reporting in its User Agent string by typing


into the address bar. (See this MSDN article for details on what this does.)image

Now we were getting somewhere. Here’s what I got:


imageByron saw what was going on right away (highlighted above). My browser was reporting that it was IE8 just fine, but it was also reporting that it was IE6! Byron pointed me to this article which, way down at the bottom, suggests what might be happening and how to fix it. (I’ve taken the liberty to copy that section of the article below. Thanks to Eric Lawrence and his EnhanceIE site.)

I found the offending User Agent string in the

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\User Agent\Post Platform

key and just for completeness, I searched the registry for other occurrences of “MSIE 6.0” and found the following:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows Search\Gathering Manager


I left that one alone, but interesting, eh?

So, I deleted the offending value in the

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\User Agent\Post Platform

key, rebooted, and wah-la: I’m running IE8 again!

Here’s my nice, clean User Agent string, and now I’m even running the 64 bit version of Windows 7 when I go to




Thanks again to Byron at Tripline. Check out their stuff. It looks totally awesome. Especially in IE8.


Solution from the Eric Lawrence at his EnhanceIE site

Problem: Nested UA String

In this case, the User-Agent string is corrupted, with two instances of the Mozilla/4.0 token. This typically is caused by a bad registry key. Problems of this nature are caused by poorly written addons or utilities that write incorrect values to the registry.

GET / HTTP/1.1
Accept-Language: en-us
User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1) ; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; InfoPath.2)
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Connection: Keep-Alive

As you can see in the example above, an IE6 user-agent string is written in the middle of the IE8 user-agent string. This bad string is dynamically generated out of a registry key. By removing the registry key, you can fix the problem.

To fix this, click START > RUN > REGEDIT.EXE. Using RegEdit, navigate to these four keys:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\5.0\User Agent\Post Platform
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\User Agent\Post Platform
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\5.0\User Agent\Post Platform
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\User Agent\Post Platform

…and remove any elements from the “Name/Type/Value” list that contain Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1) ;

For 64 bit computers, also check:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\5.0\User Agent\Post Platform

Show the Desktop in Windows 7

This is a total "Why the heck didn’t I know this???" thing.  Since I upgraded to Windows 7, I’ve been manually minimizing all my windows to get to the desktop and each time cursing those Windows devils for removing the Show Desktop icon from the Windows Quick Launch.  The one that I’ve been used to using since, what, Windows 2000?

Turns out there was something right under my nose all along. I clicked on it by accident today and couldn’t figure out why my desktop suddenly was there.

Take a look at the far right of the Windows 7 taskbar, and you’ll see a little rectangle:


Yeah, that’s obvious, right? Click on it, and you’ll get your desktop.  Click again, and you’ll return all your windows to their prior state.

This one is just a huge "Duh" for me, but I figure I may not be the only one who missed the memo, thus the post.

Windows 7 Version Changes with Anytime Upgrade

I’ve seen several people over the last few weeks tweet about getting the wrong version of Windows 7 on a new laptop.  They then say that they will be formatting and reinstalling Windows. Don’t do it!

With Anytime Upgrade, you can just enter the appropriate key for the version you have licensed and you’ll be all set.  It probably won’t take more than 15 minutes of the disk whirring with no input from you.  All of Windows 7 is installed by default; the key just unlocks the pieces.

See this page about Anytime Upgrade for info and this page for instructions (snipped out below)

If you want more features than you currently have in your existing edition of Windows 7, you can upgrade to another edition using Windows Anytime Upgrade. Pricing information for each edition of Windows 7 is available as part of the Windows Anytime Upgrade process.

Here’s how to begin:

  1. Open Windows Anytime Upgrade by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type anytime upgrade, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Anytime Upgrade.
  2. Follow the instructions on each page.

When the upgrade is complete, you will have a new edition of Windows 7 running on your computer.


  • Windows Anytime Upgrade will only allow upgrades from a 32-bit version to a 32-bit version or from a 64-bit version to a 64-bit version. You can’t upgrade from a 32-bit version to a 64-bit version with Windows Anytime Upgrade, for example. For more information about 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, see 32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions.

Windows Anytime Upgrade isn’t available in all editions of Windows 7, such as Windows 7 Ultimate edition.

TiVo Desktop 2.8 with Windows 7 (Again, But Maybe Finally?)

In a previous post, TiVo Desktop 2.7 with Windows 7, I thought I’d hit on a fix for getting the TiVo Desktop software running right with Windows 7.  Alas, my joy was premature.

I kept getting errors both in trying to transfer shows from my TiVo to my PC as well as when I tried to play old shows on my PC (“Windows Media Player encountered a problem while playing the file”). Looking into C:\Users\Marc Anderson\AppData\Local\TiVo Desktop\Logs at TiVoTransfer.log, I saw repeated errors like this:

Error 2009-12-25:23-01-01.522-05:00 0x28B0 RegistryHelper.cpp, MediaAccessKeyUtils::HKEYHelper::openPath, 90 |  RegOpenKeyExA(path=Software\TiVo\SharingKeys, samDesired=131097) failed: err=2
Info 2009-12-25:23-01-01.522-05:00 0x28B0 TiVoToGoKeys.cpp, TivoToGoKeys::GetSharingKey, 78 |  key is empty: err=TiVoKeyHelper Exception(SharingKeyHelper::decrypt(58)): "Error: Unexpected!"
TiVoKeyHelper Exception(MediaAccessKeyUtils::HKEYHelper::openPath(92)): "Error: 2 during RegOpenKeyEx!: path=Software\TiVo\SharingKeys"

Info 2009-12-25:23-01-01.522-05:00 0x28B0 TivoTransferApi.cpp, CTivoTransferApi::AddDownload, 167 |  GetMediaKey() returned empty MAK
Info 2009-12-25:23-01-05.204-05:00 0x29B8 DownloaderCb.cpp, DownloaderCb::start, 88 |  started: <a href=""></a>
Error 2009-12-25:23-01-05.719-05:00 0x29B8 DownloaderCb.cpp, DownloaderCb::error, 81 |  <a href=""></a> failed: error=4

As you can see, the issue seems to be with getting the value for the Media Access Key (MAK) and decoding it.  FYI: The MAK is stored in the registry at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\TiVo\SharingKeys.

Ok, so now I’m starting to do exactly what there is so much of out there on the Web: speculation about arcane details of the problem, what *might* be causing it, and what *might* solve it.

I spent a lot of time over the last few days Binging for solutions, and it took a lot to finally cut through all of the opprobrium and misinformation to come up with something that a) seems like it works, and b) sounds like it actually makes sense.

The solution that seems to be working is relatively simple: Go to the C:\Program Files\TiVo\Desktop folder and set all of the executables to Run as Administrator.  (Right click each file, choose Properties, then the Compatibility tab.  Toward the bottom of the tab, check the “Run this program as an administrator” option.)  No, you shouldn’t need to do this, but it seems to have solved all of my issues.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.  More Dollhouse episodes are on their way over to my laptop as I type…

Thanks to Nunya_Binnez for the tip in the TiVo forums on this fix.