I'm merging some old backup archives and getting rid of duplicates in the process, and I am frustrated by the fact that Microsoft has made it so difficult to find empty folders in Windows.
The Windows Search is not very helpful in this either. Windows Search is helpful only to some extent. For instance, if I am dealing with picture files like JPEG, PNG, BMP, etc. I'll give you an example below.
Figuring out if a folder is empty...
I often have the
Thumbs.db files in picture folders. These files were generated by previous versions of Windows. Now, if I have merged two big backup archives containing picture files (getting rid of duplicates and saving orphan files), then these Thumbs.db files are left behind in one of the locations. Thus, the folders appear to be containing files, i.e. if I select these folders and press Alt+Enter to view properties I can read the "Contains" section to make sure the backup folder is really empty before I delete it.
If it's not empty, it will say how many files it contains. Since the Thumbs.db files are left behind it will say that it contains files, thus giving me a false positive. Because I'm not interested in knowing if a folder contains the Thumbs.db files, I have no use for them. They are just garbage from previous Windows.
So what I can do here is use Windows Search and do a search for
*.db in that folder and delete all Thumbs.db files it finds. I can then check properties once again, and if it shows up 0 files I know I can delete the folder with all of its subfolders with confidence, knowing I'm not deleting any picture files.
If it still turns up a number greater than 0 then that means there is one or several files in that folder structure that is not an Thumbs.db file, but rather a picture file or some other file with a different extension. And I have to open up each folder, one by one, working my way down the folder tree until I find the file or files that might be important and copy them to a new location before I delete the folder. I could use Windows Search to figure out the search paths to this or these files. But that's about as helpful Windows Search gets.
So while Windows Search is helpful to some extent, it does not directly address the problem of finding empty folders!
Since Alt+Enter is the best way of knowing whether or not a folder contains files, this is the idea I have come up with.
In the Windows Explorer window, if you are using the "Details" view you get a list of files and folder with all the different columns such as Name, Date modified, Type, etc. You can also add several more columns if you right click on one of them and then click "More".
Now, wouldn't it be great if there was a "Contains" column you could pick? That way you could get an overview of how many files and folders all the different subfolders have in a given parent/root folder.
But the so called software engineers and designers at Microsoft are obviously not that bright. They want you to keep pressing Alt+Enter on each and every one of the subfolders, or right click on each and choose Properties. I checked! There is no "Contains" column.
But there are several other useful columns! Like the column "Size" which shows you how big your files are. But it doesn't work at all on folders! Since when is the "Size" information not relevant for folders? Why would I have to dive into a subfolder just to check how big the files are inside it? Or having to use Alt+Enter or right click on it and click Properties? Makes absolutely no sense!
So is there a way to help yourself and add a "Contains" column in Windows Explorer, by a means of customization? Is it possible to write an extension or plugin of some sort for Windows Explorer that would allow you to add a "Contains" column? Or are we looking at writing a whole new file manager program for Windows to accomplish this simple task?
Instead of this...
Can we have something like this...
Or is this just asking too much?...
I don't think I'm asking too much. Microsoft should have thought about this ages, or even decades ago. If you do a Google search you will find that many people are asking the same thing, how does one find empty folder in Windows? Preferably without having extensive programming skills and spending one month writing your own Windows program for that matter? Many Windows users would benefit if there was a built-in option inside Windows Explorer for finding empty folders.
I'm on Windows Vista, but I also use Windows 7 and Windows 8.x and they are just as bad. The very least they could have done right is get this thing with columns right. What's up with that? Why would a folder that contains several files and subfolders show absolutely nothing where it says "Size" when viewing the parent folder? This is just plain stupid!