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Shell extensions map and Shell+ key features

Windows Explorer is a very flexible shell. Many of its dialogs, windows, menus and options can be changed or extended. Windows supports a special COM-based plugin technology known as Shell Extensions to make it possible. There are many built-in Shell Extensions and you can see them almost everywhere:

  •  All virtual folders such as Printers, Control Panel, Recycle Bin are shell extensions
  •  File-specific icons, small arrows on link icons, link icons itself are shell extensions too
  •  Additional context-sensitive menu items are supplied by file-specific shell extension modules
  •  Tips in the tray icon menu, property sheets and many other items you see every day...

All these wonderful additions are Shell Extensions. With Shell+ you can easy develop your own Shell Extensions. It will make your program more convenient and attractive.

As usual with Delphi it is easy to start - only a few clicks are necessary to generate your own shell extension from scratch. Shell+ takes care of all methods to be implemented so you will never need to code numerous interfaces required by Windows. Write only necessary code, Shell+ will do all other routine jobs.

Look on the map below. Point and click shell extension kind you are interested in learning about:

Thumbnail Image Handler Copy-Hook Handler ToolTip Handler Icon Handler Property Sheets Shortcut Menu Notification Area


There are two kinds of distributive packages in Shell+: Standard and Namespace.

Generic Shell Extensions (Standard Package)

    Notification Area (system tray)


    An icon is easy to add into a system tray. Using Shell Extensions on systems with Internet Explorer 5.0 or later you can show balloon tooltips like those on the sample screenshot. You do not need to worry about making a correct balloon drawing - shell will take care of it and assure its look will integrate into Windows. Shell+ allows you to create this type of example easy, just follow the simple example.

     Balloon Tool tip
     Refreshing icon after restarting the Shell
     Animated icons in the system tray
     Different Balloon Tool tip events: OnClick, OnClose, OnHide...


    Shortcut Menus


    Every time user right clicks a file, a group of files or folders, a pop-up menu appears. This menu contains a list of commands that the user can select to perform various actions on the object. Would you like to add your own menu item? It's possible and it's easy. An example how to do it is available here. Try it and you will see your own menu items in pop-up menu in less then ten minutes.

     Complete support of TPopupMenu component
     Images on the menu items
     Owner-Draw menu items (now in developing state)


    Property Sheets


    When a user right-clicks a Shell object, the shortcut menu that is displayed normally includes a Properties item. Selecting that item launches a property sheet that allows the user to view, and in some cases modify the object's properties. It is convenient to handle and inspect basic file properties using this dialog. If you need to, you can easy add your own pages into this dialog. To do it you will need to design a form that should be shown as a part of the dialog and add a couple of Shell+ components to your project. Complete process is considered here, follow to quickly create your own property pages.

     Develop your property sheets like usual Delphi Form
     You can add new property sheets or replace default property sheets
     Insert your property sheets to files, folders, drives properties dialogs
     Add your property pages to device driver properties
     Also available device folders, internet settings, mouse and display properties dialogs and more...


    Icon Handlers


    An icon handler is a type of Shell extension that allows you to dynamically assign icons to the members of a file class. Every time a file from the class is displayed, the Shell queries the handler for the appropriate icon. For instance, an icon handler can assign different icons to different members of the class, or vary the icon based on the current state of the file. More info...

     Generate icon images in run-time
     Specify the path to existing icon file and icon index


    ToolTip Handlers


    Every time the user hovers the mouse pointer over the object, the Shell queries the handler for the appropriate information text. You can supply your own text there. Implementation of this feature requires to use the ToolTip Shell+ component. The following example shows how to use it.

     Add your text or modify default (system) info tip
     Generate info-tip text in run-time
     Use multi-line or single-line info tips


    Copy-Hook Handlers


    A copy hook handler is a Shell extension that determines if a Shell folder or printer object can be moved, copied, renamed, or deleted. The default behavior is to ask user's confirmation. Shell+ allows you to customize this operation, add your own confirmation dialog and/or control desired shell objects.

     Be informed, when anyone copies, renames or deletes file objects within the Shell
     Take under control the Shell operations


    Thumbnail Image Handlers


    Would you like to supply your own thumbnails for image files? Need to add thumbnails to your own data files? All these tasks can be solved with Thumbnail Image Handler - a special type of Shell Extension that provides an image to be displayed when the user selects the Thumbnail view. A few steps only are necessary to implement this type of Shell extension.

     Generate preview images in run-time
     Work easy with usual TCanvas class


    Drag&Drop Handlers


    Every time user right clicks right mouse button on a file, a group of files or folders, and drag this file objects to other folders, the pop-up menu appears. This menu contains a list of commands that the user can select to perform various actions on the object. Using this component, you can your own menu item to this menu with easy. An example how to do it is available here. Try it and you will see your own menu items in pop-up menu in less then ten minutes.

     Complete support of TPopupMenu component
     Images on the menu items
     Owner-Draw menu items (now in developing state)


    Shell Change Notifier


    If you need to monitor file modification, creation or deletion in different directories around your disk - this component for you. You can specify the monitoring directory, file masks, monitoring thread priority and other setting, that will help you to monitor activity of file system.

     Multithread engine
     Work under all flavors of Windows (Win7, Vista, 2008, 2003, XP, 2K, 98, ME, NT4, 95)
     Control engine threads priority


    Folder Columns Provider


    The Microsoft® Windows® Explorer Details view normally displays several standard columns. Each column lists information, such as the file size or type, for each file in the current folder. By implementing and registering a column handler, you can make custom columns available for display.

     Easy to specify additional columns
     Provide custom text for common columns like Autor, Title, etc.
     Different data-types


    Icon Overlay Handler


    Icon overlays are small images placed at the lower-left corner of the icon that represents a Shell object. They are normally added to an object's icon to provide some extra information. For instance, a commonly used icon overlay is the small arrow that indicates that the icon represents a link, rather than the actual file or folder. In addition to the standard icon overlays that are provided by the system, you can request custom icon overlays for specified Shell objects by implementing and registering an icon overlay handler.

     Easy to specify overlay icons
     Complete implementation of Windows functionality


    Shell Link Access


    Shell link shortcuts are wide used in the shell. The "Start" menu is an obvious case for that. With our component you can easily access the shell shortcuts (*.lnk files). You can create, modify, resolve shortcut files and access the specific shell link data.

     Easy and intuitive access to the shortcut files

    Url Handler


    Url Handler allows you manually translate URL protocol that is unknown for Internet Explorer. When attempting to browse to a URL address that does not contain a protocol, the browser will first attempt to determine the correct protocol from the address. If this is not successful, the browser will create URLHandler objects and pass them unknown URL for parsing.

     Implementing new URL protocols to simplify navigation or launch custom applications

    File Drop Target


    TsxFileDropTarget component allows you make usual files available as targets for drag&drop operations. Example of File DropTarget implementation in Windows Shell could be ZIP-files. When you drag&drop some files from Explorer to a ZIP-file, Windows Shell will launch application to add dropped files to archive.

     Making usual files as drag&drop destinations

    Explorer Band


    With TsxExplorerBand component you can create custom Bars and Bands for Windows Explorer. There is a wide range of possible uses for the Explorer Bar: users can select which option they wish to see in several different ways, including selecting it from the Explorer Bar submenu of the View menu, or clicking a toolbar button.

Internet Explorer provides several standard Explorer Bars, including Favorites and Search. One of the ways you can customize Internet Explorer is by adding a custom Explorer Bar. When implemented and registered, it will be added to the Explorer Bar submenu of the View menu. When selected by the user, the Explorer Bar's display area can then be used to display information and take user input in much the same way as a normal window.

Also you can create Internet Explorer Toolbars and Desk Bands (dockable windows on Desktop) that is very popular nowadays. It is so ease as create program in Delphi - just make a form and add components there.

     Making Explorer Bands like Favorites, Search, History, etc.
     Making Explorer Toolbars like Google or MSN Toolbar
     Making Desk Bands like Google Desktop Toolbar or Microsoft Media Player panel


Namespace Shell Extensions (Namespace Package)

    Namespace extensions


    Windows Explorer displays a lot of folders that are not file directories at all: My Computer, Control Panel, Printers Folder, Network... These folders are known as virtual and it is allowed to add more folders to the Shell if necessary. To do it you will need to implement a special dynamic library and supply a lot of very specific interfaces and data. Hopefully ShellPlus takes care about all this internal features so you can develop your own extensions as easy as an ordinary application. If your project contains any data that can be represented in a tree form then you can show this data in the Explorer as if it would be reald files and directories. ShellPlus namespace extension components givces you the following benefits:

     Easy to use (put a few components and run)
     You do not need to know about numerous Shell interfaces and classes
     Different data-providers (starting from simple tree-storage to TDataSet support!)

We develop any kinds of custom DataProviders for your own data formats. Feel free to contact us for details at

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