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In developing applications where I need the user to select a folder, I've always favored the OpenFolderDialog because:

  • It looks like an OpenFileDialog
  • Allows the user to jump directly to the path (via copy/paste)
  • Has both the TreeView and ListView for viewing items

Should an OpenFolderDialog be used over a FolderBrowserDialog? Are there any cases where a FolderBrowserDialog would be preferred?

For those not familiar with the difference, here is an OpenFolderDialog (random Google image):


And here is a FolderBrowserDialog (again, random Google image):


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I hate FolderBrowserDialog with a burning passion. Trying to find folders that are deep within the system takes forever and the expanding/contracting of nodes in the tree makes it difficult to navigate. – Sonic42 May 6 '12 at 22:00
I'm not sure the FolderBrowserDialog has any advantage whatsoever, aside from the dubious one of using less screen space. – Ben Brocka May 6 '12 at 22:14
@Sonic42 I feel the same way, yet it still amazes me how many developers don't go through the extra step to provide it for their users whenever possible. I usually have the folder open in Explorer/Finder as well, so I can just copy/paste the path quickly. – Lander May 7 '12 at 0:29
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The OpenFolderDialog seems to take advantage of how users normally navigate the file system. They get used to things like the Documents folder being available from the left menu and because of that many people might not be able to easily find the Documents folder in the actual directory structure as required by the FolderBrowsingDialog.

I think that the OpenFolderDialog would be your best bet because it takes advantages of existing file system usage. I'd go with that unless you come across a specific problem that leads you to think otherwise.

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