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Last week we saw how to search for text in EPUB books. We now complete the shell integration for this popular ebook format with a thumbnail handler and a column handler for ebook information. Thumbnails will work in windows explorer too, but author/title information will be only available in xplorer².

EPUB thumbnail handler
As far as I can tell there is no thumbnail shell extension for EPUB in particular, but as this is just a disguised ZIP archive file, we can use CBX Shell that serves thumbnail previews for ZIP and RAR image archives (CBZ / CBR), and add a registry key to handle EPUB thumbnails with the capable CBXShell handler:

For your convenience I made a small installer that first installs CBXShell then adds the above snippet to your registry:

We recommend converting your Mobi 7 book to EPUB so that you can preview your books using all the device modes and see if Enhanced Typesetting is supported for your book. I see small boxes instead of the actual text in the table of contents while previewing an Indic language eBook on my Windows PC. For Windows 7 use CBX Shell (CBR, CBR - thumbnails) as a alternative to CDisplayEx - Thumbnails function. It is likely that this tool will work on earlier Windows versions as well. Is easy is just install the CBX Shell and create a thumbs.reg with this code: Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 HKEYCLASSESROOT.epubShellEx BB2E617C-0920.

Click to download EPUB thumbnail handler (872 KB, build 4.620)

Minimum requirements: windows XP or later (32 or 64 bit)

If there are more than one images in the EPUB archive, the first available picture will be used as a thumbnail. You can open the EPUB with 7zip (or temporarily rename it to .ZIP to open it with xplorer²) and make sure your desired book thumbnail image is first on the root folder of the EPUB.

EPUB book information as column handler
AFAIK there's no generic ebook property handler to supply information like title and book author. To make our life easier let's use the eBook Info WDX plugin that can be used via xplorer² / Total Commander plugin bridge. This plugin does all popular ebook formats so we go a long way with just one installation. Here are step by step instructions:

  1. Download eBook Info WDX plugin. This is a zip archive that doesn't need installation.
  2. Right click on eBookInfoWDX.zip (say it's in the DOWNLOADS folder) and choose Extract all menu command to uncompress the plugin and note the extraction path e.g. C:UsersYouDownloadseBookInfoWDX.
  3. Download xplorer² plugin helper (if you don't have it) and run it.
  4. Press <INS> key or use File > Browse for plugins menu and browse the folder where you extracted the plugin (step 2)
  5. Choose the plugin file eBookInfo.wdx (you can ignore the x64 warning) and click OK to import it. Click on Apply button to save the changes.

Steps 1-5 are rather tedious, but you only have to do them one time. When you restart xplorer² you will find columns called Title.eBookInfo, Author.eBookInfo and others, which you can select with Select columns menu command (right click on a pane's column header).

With these EPUB handlers and the thumbnail/attribute handlers for kindle books (AZW, MOBI, PRC), we can have an all mod cons shell experience for all popular ebook formats as such:

Figure 1. xplorer² showing EPUB/AZW/MOBI thumbnails and author/title properties

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Microsoft today released a new Windows 10 preview for PCs. This is the third build ahead of the company’s Windows 10 Creators Update, which is coming in “early 2017”; it brings EPUB support in Microsoft Edge, Paint 3D, PowerShell in Command Prompt’s default spot, improved Japanese and Chinese Input Method Editors (IMEs), and a better Get Office app.

Windows 10 is a service, meaning it was built in a very different way than its predecessors so it can be regularly updated with not just fixes but new features too. While Microsoft has released many such updates to date, the Creators Update will be a major one and follows the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, released in August 2016.

First up, Edge now supports the EPUB file format, so you can read any unprotected e-book in the file format just like you can with PDFs. While reading EPUB files, Edge lets you change the text size and font, and choose between three themes (light, sepia, and dark). You can also leave bookmarks, use the table of contents or seek bar at the bottom of the browser, search for words or phrases, and use Cortana to define specific words.

Insiders have been able to download a preview of Paint 3D, which will eventually ship with the Creators Update, for a while now. Starting with this build, the Paint 3D app is now included as part of Windows 10. Opening Paint from Start will now take you to Paint 3D, which is currently only available in English (support for other languages is “coming soon”).

Also in this build, PowerShell is now the de facto command shell from File Explorer, replacing the Command Prompt in the WIN + X menu, in File Explorer’s File menu, and in the context menu that appears when you shift-right-click the whitespace in File Explorer. To opt out of the WIN + X change, open Settings, then Personalization, then Taskbar, and turn “Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell in the menu when I right-click the Start button or press Windows key+X” to “Off.”

Here are the IME updates:

  • Improved Chinese IME reliability, including fixing an issue where the IME might crash due to an incompletely downloaded or corrupted dictionary file
  • Improved Conversion Accuracy for the Japanese IME, including fixing various issues such as when conversion was used mixed with prediction and an UX issue when trying to change phrase segmentation
  • Improved resource usage when typing with the Japanese IME, including fixing an issue that could result in unexpected graphic glitches after using the IME for an extended period of time

Last but not least, the Get Office app is no longer a collection of links to help you get started with Office. Instead, the app now helps you discover and launch apps, as well as see all your recent Office documents in one place.

The desktop build includes the following improvements and bug fixes:

  • The experimental “Snooze” action on a tab in Microsoft Edge which provides you with a way to set a Cortana reminder on the website you are viewing is no longer available. Based on data gathered and feedback received, Microsoft decided to remove it from the product and re-evaluate the feature for a future release.
  • The cursor will no longer be shown while inking — we believe this makes the experience feel even more like pen on paper. Try it out and let us know what you think!
  • Improved reliability when using the protractor and inking in Sketchpad.
  • Update some desktop wizards (including “map a network drive” and “extract from zip”) to now be proportionally sized when moved across monitors.
  • Fixed an issue where Magnifier’s keyboard shortcuts sometimes wouldn’t work on the Lock screen.
  • Fixed an issue that could result in sometimes not being able to completely remove files in the Windows.old folder using Disk Cleanup.
  • We have enabled OAuth support for Yahoo Mail accounts. This will improve sync reliability for those accounts, and provide a more secure experience in the Outlook Mail app.
  • Fixed an issue where trying to shut down the PC while certain Device Manager dialog boxes were open would result in the PC being stuck at the “Restarting…” screen.
  • Fixed an issue where, as closing multiple tabs with middle click in Microsoft Edge, the width of the tabs might change, resulting in potentially unexpectedly closing the wrong tab.
  • Fixed an issue where the copy link option when right-clicking a hyperlink in Microsoft Edge wasn’t work.
  • Fixed an issue where, if you changed the size of the Microsoft Edge window, and then closed the app by closing the final tab, the next time Microsoft Edge is launched it would once again be the default size, rather than retaining the preferred window size.
  • Fixed an issue where pinned tabs in Microsoft Edge were not being restored.
  • We’ve made a number of translation improvements, including for Chinese speakers fixing a translation error in the dialog that appears when installing multiple fonts at once, as well as one in Settings > System > Battery. If you see any other translations that aren’t as you’d expect, please log feedback
  • Fixed an issue where, if you already hand a notification expanded in the Action Center, clicking the chevron to expand a second notification would result in it expanding then immediately closing.
  • Fixed an issue where preferred Start menu width might not be preserved after rebooting.

Today’s update bumps the Windows 10 build number for PCs from 14965 (made available to testers on November 9) to build 14971.

This build has four known issues:

  • Navigating to Settings > System > Battery will crash the Settings app.
  • Using keyboard monitor hotkeys to adjust brightness won’t work as expected. Desired brightness change could be done via the Action Center or by going to Settings > System > Display.
  • Apps such as Store, Photos, and People may launch on their own after your PC has been inactive for a period of time. To stop these apps from launching on their own, un-maximize the app before closing it.
  • The Windows Holographic First Run app can be launched but won’t detect any hardware. This app and the Windows Holographic Shell is still under active development.

If you’re OK with the above and want to get build 14971 now, head to PC Settings, select “Update and recovery,” then “Preview builds,” and then click the “Check Now” button.


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