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When viewing the list of network computers in Windows Explorer on a Win 7 machine there appears to be no way of readily seeing the description field, which makes that pretty well useless. I believe this problem started with Vista but I'm seeing it for the first time because I was fortunate enough to skip over Vista.

We're currently rolling out Win 7 on new boxes and although I'm changing the naming system to something more sensible, the old boxes have names such as FWS01, FWS02, etc. Managing a network of computers with such names is made more difficult when you can't readily see who's machine each one is.

Googling the problem brought up a workaround involving creating a shortcut on an XP machine and copying that to the Win 7 box but that's a long way from ideal. Is there some kind of hack that can be applied to machines, the operator of which needs to be able to see the description field?

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Whoah, I had never noticed this before... –  Mark Henderson Aug 2 '10 at 5:07
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@Farseeker, you might also notice that if you enable the IP Address column it doesn't show the addresses for computers, only "devices". At least that's how mine is but that may be related to me not running IPv6. –  John Gardeniers Aug 2 '10 at 5:42
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This "feature" did start in Vista. I'm not aware of any good workaround. I just use "NET VIEW" anyway... –  Evan Anderson Aug 2 '10 at 5:43
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@Evan, for me NET VIEW is fine but I'd ideally like a solution that can also be used by (non-technical) people who will only ever use the GUI when browsing the network. It doesn't happen often but it does and will happen. –  John Gardeniers Aug 2 '10 at 21:46
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8 Answers

Just realized you already had the XP shortcut piece.

You could make a new shortcut as well using the folder/guid technique, e. g. making a folder on the desktop named "Network.{208d2c60-3aea-1069-a2d7-08002b30309d}". That would be the equivalent of the Windows Network shortcut. It might be possible to make that say in a login script or something - not much better than copying a shortcut from XP I guess but it's another option.

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>Create a new folder on your desktop and name it this: >Network.{208d2c60-3aea-1069-a2d7-08002b30309d} >That will give you an explorer interface with a "Comments" column that should help. Funny, but it does not help. Yes, you get column "Comments"displayed, but it is still blank. Only when go to properties to see the computer properties, the comment will be displayed. –  Andrei Oct 29 '13 at 10:18
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I don't have a Win7 machine handy, but is there anything available in the View menu? Such as View Columns or show columns?

Do you get more info in, say Details view than Icon View?

(Note to self: get a Win7 Machine...)

Have you tried opening My Network Places on a XP machine and expand Entire Network and MS Windows Network. Then drag your Domain to your desktop creating a shortcut. Finally copy that shortcut to your Vista box, double click and see if the description displays in details view.

Process described here: http://blog.chrisara.com.au/2009/08/restoring-computer-description-in.html

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That's the first place I looked but the field isn't available at all. The method you describe using an XP machine is what I was referring to in my mention of creating a shortcut on an XP machine. –  John Gardeniers Sep 11 '10 at 10:32
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There might be a separate explorer mode for doing this... say, maybe an equivalent to "network places"

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Create a shortcut and give it a custom icon that runs cmd.exe /K net view

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See the comment from John above - NET VIEW is fine but I'd ideally like a solution that can also be used by (non-technical) people who will only ever use the GUI when browsing the network –  Mark Henderson Sep 12 '10 at 23:16
    
Well that isn't in the GUI, and a double click for a window with an X is pretty much the same thing. –  Garrett Sep 16 '10 at 4:32
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Here is a rather round-about way.
Create a BAT file that invokes NET VIEW, processes the output into an HTML file and calls the HTML - locally, without needing a web server. Your users would just double-click on the BAT file.

Here is an example:

CONTENTS of netview.bat:

REM Put the output of the net view command into a file
net view > c:\public\netview.txt
REM Process the file to produce an HTML file
perl netview.pl < c:\public\netview.txt > c:\public\netview.html
REM invoke the HTML file to display the result
c:\public\netview.html

The result would be an html file like this:

<html><body>
<a href="\\BASS" >BASS - Description Bay Area Storage Server</a>
</body></html>

This would result in a display with clickable links like this:
BASS - Description: Bay Area Storage Server

Like I said to start with, it is round-about. But perhaps it will help.

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The idea is nifty but the important part of this is the netview.pl script which probably isn't that complex but your users will all need some version of perl installed for this to work. –  Helvick Sep 13 '10 at 9:55
    
@Helvick, it does not need to be Perl. It can be Java or C or Windows scripting - whatever the implementer is comfortable with. I just used Perl as an illustration. The script simply needs to process the output of NET VIEW into useful HTML. –  Beel Sep 13 '10 at 16:07
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Yes, it would be trivial to create a standalone program for this, even with Perl, but I'm really after something more integrated into Windows Explorer, which is where users expect to see things. –  John Gardeniers Sep 15 '10 at 7:35
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Why not create a custom MMC view of AD Users and computers so he/she can see the descriptions? Most users have view rights to AD so permissions are easy

\\uSlackr

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Thanks. While that would work it's a workaround and would only annoy, rather than help, ordinary users. Nobody wants to run a separate application to see information that previously was always right there in front of them. Bad enough that I need to do it. Users should never have to. Maybe Microsoft will fix this in the next version of Windows, although I suspect they just won't bother. –  John Gardeniers Feb 2 '11 at 22:55
    
You didn't say you needed this for ordinary users. I would argue users should never have to browse the network to find a resource. Talk about annoying. Ours never do. –  uSlackr Feb 11 '11 at 21:57
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Create a new folder on your desktop and name it this:

Network.{208d2c60-3aea-1069-a2d7-08002b30309d}

That will give you an explorer interface with a "Comments" column that should help.

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You did see this year-old-plus answer which says the same thing, right? –  jscott Jul 11 '12 at 14:06
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The Search Active Directory option in the Network section of Explorer can be used stand-alone and abused to achieve this.

Make a plain text file with the following content:

[CommonQuery]
Handler=5EE6238AC231D011891C00A024AB2DBBC1
Form=00670016AD87D011914000AA00C16E65A1
[DsQuery]
ViewMode=0413000017
EnableFilter=0000000000
[Microsoft.Computers]
nameLength=0900000009
nameValue=
MachineRole=0000000000
[Microsoft.PropertyWell]
Items=0000000000

Save this with an arbirary name and the extension .QDS
When double-clicked it will give you the list of computers in AD with Description column included.
You can further fine-tune the query (limit the search-domain) and save it again from the menu.
Just blank the "nameValue" attribute to clear any preset Computername.

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