Five freeware programs to help you find the optimal informational tooltips for most file types

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this posting will present an overview of a number of freeware options that can add informational tooltips to various file types.

Informational tooltips are those informational windows that appear when you hover the mouse over various files. Five programs are presented here including Infotag Magic, Filetip, Thumbview, MediaCoder, and Audioshell.

Shortly after publishing my Infotag Magic review (a program which introduces informational tooltips for a variety of file types including audio files, text files, and executables), I received an email from a reader asking about the possibility of adding tooltips to images and video files that displayed the image resolution for these.

I therefore did a bit of research about the various freeware options for installing tooltips for a range of filetypes, and this is a summary of what I found.

Note that the first thing that you should do before installing anything is check if the filetypes you are interested in already have adequate tooltips, as many media players and image viewers introduce this functionality.

  1. infotag magic tooltipsInfotag Magic: adds a variety of info tooltips for: MP3, WMA, APE, and Ogg Vorbis, text-preview tooltips for various text files (TXT, INI, LOG, BAT, DIZ, BAK, and QUE), file version tooltips for executables (EXE, DLL, and OCX), and original file locations for shortcuts. The only drawback with this software, aside from the file types that were not supported (such as images and videos) was that the audio file info was not consistent, and would fail to display tag info that was in the audio files on occasion. Which is a good segue to the next program I would like to mention.
  2. Mediainfo tooltipsMediaInfo: this is one of the better freeware programs designed to provide all manner of information about your video files (resolution, codecs used for different audio/video streams, etc). The latest version of MediaInfo has an optional experimental feature whereby it displays extensive and detailed tooltips covering every bit of information that you might imagine about your media files (both audio and video), perfect for anyone who does a lot of media editing, conversion. The only drawback is that the tooltips look a little bit messy, and the program does not allow you to configure the information presented in the tooltips or the media file types to display tooltips for. Note(1): you have to enable tooltips in the settings, where you will find a message telling you that this is an experimental feature and to disable it if explorer starts acting strange. Note (2): this program handles all manner of video and audio file types, but it does not support image files.
  3. filetip tooltipsFiletip: this is an older program that supports tooltips for text files, executables, shortcuts, zip files, bitmaps (except JPG), icons, animated cursors, AVI files, and HTML files. All tooltips created by Filetip begin with “Filetip:” (see screenshot). The program supports a plugin architecture allowing you to disable tooltips for specific file types or even modify them (e.g. display the first 10 files in a zip archive rather than the first 5). It also allows you to create tooltip plugins for unsupported file types, but you will have to be a coder to do this. For some reason, and despite its support for 26 different extensions, Fileitp does not support MP3, MPG, MP4, or JPG extensions (although it does support BMP and GIF images). Note: the link provided is for Filetip v.1.2; if you have a link to Filetip v1.4 please post in the comments section.
  4. audioshell tag editorAudioShell: his program adds a comprehensive tooltip to the following audio file types: mp3s (all ID3v2 tag versions), wma , asf and wmv, Apple iTunes aac (m4a and m4p) and mp4 files, ogg and flac (vorbis comment tags), mpc, mp+, monkey’s audio, wav pack, optim frog (APE and APEv2 tags), and wav. (Look at the screenshot at the top of this posting to see Audioshell in action). As an added bonus it also installs a handy tag editor to your audio files’ right click properties (see screenshot to the right), which is really cool. The only drawback with this one is that it treats mp4 files as audio files, which is frustrating when you have videos in MP4 (Ipod) format and the tooltips for these do not display the video resolution. The good news is that you can use both Audioshell and Infotag Magic together to get the best of both worlds insofar as audio tooltips are concerned. For another freeware program that does something similar, check out MP3-Info Extension (although I like AudioShell better).
  5. Thumbview tooltipsThumbview: this program will (a) enable thumbnail previews for a wide range of image file types that Windows natively lacks, and (b) create informational tooltips for these. There are a total of 19 image types in question: CUT, DCX, DDS, MDL, MNG, PCD, PCX, PIC, PIX, PNG, PNM/PBM/PGM/PPM, PSD/PDD, PSP, PXR, SGI/RGB, TGA/VDA/ICB/VST, TIF/TIFF, WAL and XPM.

Note: another program is AVItt; this one is supposed to display tooltips for AVI’s, TXT, LOG, and BAT files. All I can say about it, unfortunately, is that it was crashing explorer on my machine and I wasn’t able to test it.

If you are interested in customizing your tooltips manually, Martin from Ghacks has written a posting that can help you.

Install order: note that if you are interested in installing more than one of the programs above (in order to take advantage of a wider range of supported files), the tooltip treatment provided by the program you install last will (usually) prevail.