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June 20, 2007


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Funny, it seems both Microsoft and you missed an error in this dialog:

In the option 'Dont't Move' it says 'leave this file in the *destination* folder'.
But it is the source file, so we will leave it in the *source* folder, obviously.

Graham Glass

Wouldn't it also be clearer to say "what you would like to do?" at the top instead of "click the file you want to keep?"



Just for comparison, I reckon the XP dialog was even clearer - effectively "Replace this file (details) with this one (details)?" And then there's Mac OS X - "A newer (or An older) file with this name already exists in this location. Do you want to replace it with the one you're moving?" Simple and clean.


Sam, I think they mean "leave the file in the destination folder" as in "don't overwrite it". The file listed is the one in the destination folder (the one that's about to be overwritten), not the one in the source folder.

Tom Clancy

"Overwrite the newer file" sounds like the opposite of what you mean, unless I misunderstood. Either way, it could be clearer.

Geof Harries

I would consider the original term "replace" to be much simpler and easier to understand than "overwrite". Also, in both instances, "destination folder" seems awfully geeky. Why not again use more plain language, such as Apple's "location"?


Can I point out the biggest usability issue with this dialog? Without moving your mouse over the text I couldn't work out how to action this window. There is a Cancel button and nothing else. I read the text a few times before I realised that the whole text block was a clickable area. It still throws me off when I get this window sometimes as I get a huge amount of text to read and my natural reaction to the window like every other window is to look at the bottom for the possible buttons to action the window. It is just a few more seconds where I am forced to stop and read the text and then remember to click the text. Some simple buttons would of been better at the bottom of this window with most of the text still being made available.

Stephen Mok

David, I guess you missed the "Click the file you want to keep" instruction.

Ram Yoga

Actually, I agree with David. Normally you wouldn't take the time to read the entire text. And the "Click the file you want to keep" is pretty discrete. The "cancel" button has a higher click affordance, so your natural instinct is to click that button.

I'm sure, though, that this problem will lessen as users get used to Vista. But I'm equally sure that some people will hit cancel by mistake. BTW: What DOES happen when you click "Cancel"?


Do users really reason about file newness through file times though? What if I've been working on a file and get 'the newest version' of it from an email which happens to have an earlier file time on it? Woudldn't it then be confusing to see Windows refer to it as a newer file?

Or do users even reason about the newness of files at all? I've seen plenty of examples of users appending letters or numbers to the end of files instead of looking at the file's Last Modified Time.

Sandeep Mohan

Good points and post. This has been possibly dealt with in the comments but I would suggest that the options be reversed for an user interaction with less "anxiety". For example, the dialog ought to offer the option to save both, not move or finally overwrite the 'newer' file in that order.


Yes, the best is to not confuse the user with "newer"/"older". Just warns that this file already exists in this location, replace it ? replace/cancel.
Either the user knows what he/she is doing and then overwrites, either the user goes in doubt and then cancel.


actually, this feature is REALLY annoying me. daily, i bring at least ten files from work to my home computer to update. in XP the dialog box would tell me which file was newest. now, every single time i copy a file, i have to wonder if i am accidentally overwriting my updated file with a file that may be older. is there any fix for this???

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