Category Archives: Software

How to open HTML files with Visual Studio from Far Manager

Occasionally I want to edit plain HTML file in Visual Studio. You know, those files with .htm or .html extension. Normally pressing Enter in Far Manager opens them in a browser. This is what I want most of the time, so let’s keep it.

Idea: let’s use F4 key to open file in Visual Studio.

Here’s how to achieve it:

* Open Commands menu, select File associations.
* Add new association, enter *.htm;*.html as a mask. Enter this command for F4:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe" /edit "!.!"

Change path to devenv.exe if you have different version of Visual Studio.

Note the /edit parameter. It makes Visual Studio to re-use existing window if it is alredy running. Visual Studio is not exactly a lightweight editor so let’s be efficient here.

What if you want to open HTML file in internal Far editor? Simple: press Alft+F4.


Devenv Command Line Switches

Detaching Far Manager from long-running process on Windows 7

Occasionally I launch a program from Far Manager that takes very long to complete. Normally you can use Ctrl+Alt+Tab to “detach” Far from a running process. Technical note #27 explains this well:

If a long-running process (for example, archiving) was run in a FAR console, and for some reasons this very instance of FAR is needed (an editor in the background) or it is undesirable to run a new instance ofFAR, pressing this key combination will create a new console for FAR where it will continue running as if the process has already ended, and the process will continue working in the old console.

Unfortunately this doesn’t work on Windows 7. Instead of detaching you get Windows task switcher:

Windows 7 task switcher

Interestingly the switcher is in “sticky” mode. It doesn’t disappear when you release keys. You can use arrow keys to select a window.

The fix is easy:

  1. Start regedit, open HKCU\Software\far2\System key.
  2. Create ConsoleDetachKey string value, set it to some keyboard shortcut. I use CtrlAltX.
  3. Restart Far Manager

To test it try executing this command from Far:

ping -t

Press Ctrl+Alt+X to get back to Far without stopping pings.

Converting .Net DateTime to JavaScript Date

JavaScript Date constructor accepts number of milliseconds since Unix epoch (1 January 1970 00:00:00 UTC). Here’s C# extension method that converts .Net DateTime object to JavaScript date:

public static class DateTimeJavaScript
   private static readonly long DatetimeMinTimeTicks =
      (new DateTime(1970, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, DateTimeKind.Utc)).Ticks;

   public static long ToJavaScriptMilliseconds(this DateTime dt)
      return (long)((dt.ToUniversalTime().Ticks - DatetimeMinTimeTicks) / 10000);


var dt = new Date(<%= DateTime.Today.ToJavaScriptMilliseconds() %>);


Java System.currentTimeMillis() equivalent in C#

How to safely remove USB flash drive with Far Manager

Do you have one of these:
USB flash drive
When you finish copying files from and to your USB flash drive you need to safely remove it, otherwise you risk losing data. Normally you do this by clicking icon with green arrow in system tray:

You can do the same with Far Manager. Open drive menu (Alt+F1 or Alt+F2), select your flash drive and press Shift+Del. You should get this confirmation:

Select “Remove” and you’re done. Note that the key combo (Shift+Del) is different from ejecting CD/DVD (Del).

Enhancement to launching PowerShell scripts from Far Manager

The method of launching PowerShell scripts from Far Manager I have described previously has 2 important drawbacks:

  1. You can’t pass arguments to the script, and
  2. You can’t launch script in a separate window

Here’s how to fix this:

  1. Start regedit, open HKCR\Microsoft.PowerShellScript.1\shell\Open\command key
  2. Set it to
    "C:\WINDOWS\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe" "-file" "%1" %*

Now you can press Shift+Enter to start PowerShell script in a new window.

As a bonus, you can now double-click .ps1 files in Windows Explorer to launch them. Why is this not a default behaviour? Most likely Microsoft decided to be extra cautious here.

Make sure you have Powershell version 2.0 or higher for this to work. How to check Powershell version.

How to redirect output of console program to a file in PowerShell

At some stage I decided I need backup plan for my virtual server. After some intensive web surfing I found brilliant command line tool – s3.exe. The next step was to schedule to run it periodically, every night, when everybody is sleeping.


I decided to use PowerShell. It’s new, it’s powerful, it comes pre-installed with Windows Server 2008. PowerShell is very popular among system administrators.

Also, I got an idea to save output of backup application to log file so that I could see results later. And this is where things didn’t work as I expected. Here’s how to redirect console program output to a file:

s3.exe > log.txt

If you run this you will be surprised to find that log.txt is empty. As it turns out s3.exe, being a good Windows citizen, writes errors to STDERR stream. To redirect error output to the same file you need to add magic string 2>&1:

s3.exe 2>&1 > log.txt

Two new problems appear. First, errors appear as exceptions in log file:

s3.exe : s3.exe version 1.6 - check for updates at
At PS Logging.ps1:4 char:43
+ s3.exe <<<<  2>&1 > log.txt
    + CategoryInfo          : NotSpecified: (s3.exe version
   :String) [], RemoteException
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : NativeCommandError

PowerShell helpfully wraps STDERR output into exceptions. This is nice but I don’t need it! All I want is to see how a program worked by examining log file. Do this to unwrap exceptions and show plain text:

s3.exe 2>&1 | foreach-object {$_.ToString()} | Out-File log.txt

And second, errors are out of order with normal output. They could appear before or after normal lines emitted by a program, making it hard to diagnose problem. To confirm that, I created a simple console program:

static void Main(string[] args)
   for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
   Console.Error.WriteLine("Bah bah");
   for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)

If you run this program from PowerShell and redirect output to a file, error message (bah bah) could appear anywhere in the log file:

Bah bah

The solution I came up with is to let old reliable cmd.exe to do the work:

cmd /c s3.exe `>log.txt 2`>`&1

Note backsticks – I use them to prevent PowerShell from parsing redirect operators.


PowerShell ABC’s – O is for Output
How to capture exe output to a PowerShell variable
Another approach to unwrap exceptions: use add-content cmdlet.

How to open .docx and .xlsx files from Far Manager

If you try to open Office 2007 document (.docx or .xlsx) in Far Manager it will simply open them as a ZIP archive. Clearly, that’s not what you want. Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Go to Commands › File association.
  2. Create a new association by pressing Ins.
  3. Enter *.doc;*.docx;*.xlsx;*.pptx as a mask.
  4. Enter @"!.!" as Execute command (used for Enter).

File associations in Far Manager

You can still open docx file as an archive by pressing Ctrl+PgDn.

Middle-click in Far Manager 2

In Far Manager 1.70 you could browse folders with mouse wheel. Rotating wheel would scroll up and down. Middle-click would open a folder. But version 2.0 disables middle-click. Boo! Never take away features from users.

Mouse wheel

Fortunately it’s very easy to restore this functionality:

  1. Launch [C:\Program Files\Far2\Addons\Macros\MiddleClickAsEnter.reg]. If you don’t have this folder re-install Far and add Addons » Macros feature.
  2. Restart Far Manager.