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Explorer Cover Flow

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Explorer Cover Flow

Explorer cover flow is an extension to windows explorer. It is actually a toolbar (or toolband) but it doesn't look like one, so who cares? It is written in Visual Basic 6 (Yes, I know!) using GDI+ and DirectX 8 on Windows XP SP3.

(This image also includes the FreeStyler toolbar by KSoft and FindeXer)



Download has moved here

New in v

This version is identical to except it has an option to only load the Icons and Thumbnails that are actually within the viewport. This uses far less resources and seems faster than the earlier versions. This is also the way it works in "Finder". This option is seleced as default. If you check "Load all Icons and Thumbnails at once" it will work exactly as If you don't care about this option, don't bother to upgrade.

New in v (Please see this post for more details):

  • Speed optimizations.
  • Thumbnail extraction in background threads.
  • Anti-aliased text.
  • DirectShow playback.
  • 256x256 icons for exe and ico files.
  • Mouse wheel scrolling.
  • Mp3 cover art.
  • Customizable icons and icon packages.
  • Rewritten Settings app.
  • "One-step" installer.

New in v

  • Workaround for DirectX hibernation/standby bug.
  • Optional Scrollbar
  • Optional Full Screen switch
  • Optional Continous playback (Start playback in a directory with media files and it will play through all)
  • Settings application (Sizes of backbuffer and textures can be changed)


  • iPhone-like-animation.
  • Preview of images, videos, folder content, pdf-, Office- and OpenOffice-documents.
  • Mouse navigation. You can actually throw it from side to side like you do on the iPhone.
  • Keyboard navigation with left, right, home, end, space, enter, F5, a-z and 0-9 keys. Use Shift, Ctrl or Ctrl-shift with left and right keys for moving 10, 20 and 30 steps.
  • Spin-to file properties on single-click or space bar (double-click will launch files or open folders).


  • Verbs-menu.


  • Playback of videos and audio files.


  • Background rendering.

Obvious limitations:

  • For some reason the tab key won't let you set focus to the cover flow (but you can step out of cover flow with the tab key). Use the mouse.
  • No refresh after cut or delete from verbs menu. Use F5.
  • Browsing within a folder within a zip-folder may look funny. Browsing within a zip-folder within a zip-folder may look even funnier...
  • Some media files may not play. Make sure to get the necessary DirectShow filters. FFDShow is highly recommended. Older versions of Cover flow uses the Windows MCI-api, so which files will play or not depends mostly on which CODECs you've got. It should most likely be able to play wav, mp3, wma, mpg, avi and wmv files without any problems. For some reason MCI sometimes stops rendering video to the target window when the window is moved while playing.
  • 64 bit compatibility. The 64 bit explorer does not seem to recognize this toolbar. 64 bit operating systems comes with a 32 bit explorer, it might work with that...

Uncertain issues:

  • Your computer shouldn't be too old, though I have seen it doing pretty well on a Dell Dimension 2400 with almost no graphics memory. Start out with small texture sizes and backbuffer size on computers with limited or no video memory.
  • The real speed bottleneck is extracting preview images from the shell on the fly. Uncheck "Use thumbnails" in the settings app.


After several attempts to make a working MSI installer I reverted to the the good old VB-installer from the days of Windows 95.

First of all: Make sure to completely remove previous versions before installing! Go to Control Panel->Add/Remove programs. Shut down all instances of Explorer before you hit remove! On Vista it may be a good idea to install the latest VB runtime package before attempting to install Cover Flow.

Version is a self-extracting zip. Just run the exe and click your way through the installation process. If you install on Vista you will probably get some warnings about replacing newer files, keep your new versions).

For older versions, Unzip the downloaded file to a temporary folder (not the root of a drive), run setup.exe, Select a location (not the root of a drive) and click the BIG button to start the installation. You may then delete the temporary folder if you wish.


Now start or restart Explorer and right-click a toolbar. Unselect â€Lock toolbarsâ€. Select â€Cover flowâ€. If you wish, you can now adjust the height of the cover flow window or change the order of your toolbars.. Finally select â€Lock toolbarsâ€.


If you don't see the â€Cover flow†item on this menu or if it is grayed out, there can be several reasons:

  • Hopefully you just need to activate â€Cover flow†from the Internet Explorer (yes!) extension manager. Try that first.
  • You don't have DirectX 8 or GDI+ properly installed. (DirectX 8 should be included in the DirectX 9 end user runtime package from Microsoft, try running dxdiag.exe to test your DirectX version)
  • Some obscure VB runtime file is out of date. Install the latest VB runtime package.

Changes you can make:

  • You can replace the files “loading.gif†(animated gif) and “unknown.png†to give it your own look BUT keep the image dimensions, it has to be 64x64 and 256x256 ! If you have some better looking files it would be nice of you to upload them to this thread.
  • In version there are also png files for the scrollbar and the full screen button that can be replaced. The dimensions are important for these files as well.


  • Unselect the cover flow in the toolbars menu and shut down all instances of windows explorer. Uninstall from the Control panel “Add / remove applicationsâ€.


Ideas and bug-reports are welcome but I will respectfully ignore demands of immediate support, updates or bug fixes whenever I wish.

Edited by vemod
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I didn't installed with installer, I just extracted 6 files from the Cabinet file:

- ExplorerCoverFlow.dll

- loading.gif

- unknown.png

- 19.reg (I renamed to ECF_Install.reg so Install would call it)

- Install.cmd

- Uninstall.cmd

And run Install.cmd

After that I restarted the explorer window.

Works great, but I've seen that some video files appear in a different position without voice and too fast playback, maybe it needs an specific codec...

I have CBR and CBZ files which are comics, and actually are RAR and ZIP files with pictures inside and it shows their cover, love it


BTW: It's very slow, on my dual core laptop with XP SP3. However, I love it. Keep up the good work. Maybe you can take a look at the PictureFlow algorithm http://code.google.com/p/pictureflow/

I noticed that it has keystrokes delayed so it animates according to the queue, i.e. if I press right key many times and fast the animation seems to keep those keystrokes in a queue and is not responsive

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nice job but still need some improvements.. i dont like it when it preview the folders using thumbnails setting, look hideous on my desktop.. and you should put a customizable setting such as reducing the image size.. the icon rendering is lack in quality.. btw, i didnt see the button inside the coverflow and the process usage is quite high(as expected)..

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You can install it on XP SP 2 as well as Win 2000, ME, 98 or whatever as long as you have DirectX. The Visual Basic installer however is a blast from the past when you had to reboot everytime it touched a system file. To avoid that, install the Visual Basic Runtime files before you install the cover flow. Download the VB6 runtime files here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details...17-f673077ffb3c

DirectX 9.0c can be downloaded here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details...6a-9b6652cd92a3

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I just made a small update so you can use the registry to store a few values in:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Explorer Bars\{B964D79B-D625-408F-B2AB-B308806EA2DD}\Settings

String values:

Height (was there before) stores the current height of the toolbar in pixels. Default is "250". This can also be changed by dragging the bottom of the toolbar when unlocked.

FontName Default is "Lucida Grande"

FontSize Default is "20". Be careful with this since too big fonts will go outside the "flipped" cover, well you know...

UseThumbs Sets whether the cover flow will look for thumbnails from the Shell32 IExtractImage interface. Default is "1" (ON).

If I get the time I will make a small exe to read and change these values, otherwise I'm sure somebody else in here can make a flashy exe to do that in a split second.

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hi vemod,,

tnx for great app!!!,just wondering if u could changes other look it will more look Finder..i attach pix so u could see it..as per request.

1.findexer still same Height not going down

2.button could on or off d coverflow..(but im using styler)

3.to have a scrollbar in coverflow

-option for icon its blurry

tnx 4 great app


Edited by cns0813h
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I suppose those registry values for settings are string values, then this exe can help you modify them.

Not really a flashy exe :P

However, I don't see any changes in my XP SP3 PC by modifying those values.

I re-downloaded to see if this works with the new one but it doesn't, I just post here to see if it's of any help to you guys.


Edited by vhanla
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That's nice. As far as I can see it works just fine. The altereded settings will be visible the next time explorer is launched. If you have an explorer window open while using this handly little program, the height will be overwritten when explorer is closed.


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After Stand By state while Explorer Cover Flow running, it shows and error (alert) message:

Error '-2147418105(80010007)' en tiempo de ejecución:

Error de Automatización


The error message is shown in Spanish language even tough I have an English version of Windows XP.

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Thanks vhanla!

That was easy to reproduce but hard to debug.

The english error description is : The callee (server [not server application]) is not available and disappeared; all connections are invalid. The call may have executed.

First I thought that explorer stopped responding during standby but it turned out that it is actually DirectX that goes stone cold after resuming. The only way to fix it is to poll the dx device and completely restart it if it is dead.

I will upload an update with the fix later, there might be more things to add or fix.

@aquawelt: I have no idea about Vista 64, but if you enable the cover flow in Internet Explorer's extension manager and check it in Internet Explorer's toolbar menu, doesn't it show up in Explorer's menu as well?


1.findexer still same Height not going down

Yes. It is a toolbar and toolbars sit on the top.

2.button could on or off d coverflow..(but im using styler)

The standard toolbar in explorer does not support custom buttons. An alternative is to create a new custom toolbar with only one button, but you don't want that. Maybe you could talk sweetly to the creators of styler and/or freestyler...

3.to have a scrollbar in coverflow

That might just come later (no promises)

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i mean the position and behaviour of findexer will be same til u dnt switch on coverflow.i think coverflow could less width hope u understand.see my picture attch frm 1 is d default view and 2nd pix my request that look i want to be more look finde mac..tnxxxx ;)

hope someone can create leopard toolbar in styler adding button for your coverflow..i dnt knw hw..

thank u mr vemod!



Edited by cns0813h
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