How to Add Comments to Files (Win XP)

This may seem a tad nerdy, but it’s always struck me as dumb that you can tag websites, photos and all that stuff but you can’t tag files on your computer. So here’s a way to add notes to a file.

If you don’t want to download anything:

Open Windows Explorer/My Computer

Right click on the file you want to annotate, and select Properties:


Select the second tab, called Summary, and add text to the Comments field:


Hit OK. (There’s an easier way to do this, but it involves downloading stuff. See below)

To view your comment in Windows Explorer/My Computer

Right click on the column bar at the top of the window and select Comments:


Your comment should now be visible in an extra column:


To save this layout of columns so that your comments are always visible, select Folder Options from the Tools menu:


and select Apply to all Folders from the View tab:


If you don’t mind downloading software, there’s an easier way to add comments. Well, two.

First off, you can download something called HobComment, which makes it possible to add comments by right clicking a file. An extra command appears on the pop up menu which removes a couple of steps:


This is simple enough, and works within Windows Explorer. Another option is to replace Windows Explorer with something called xplorer² lite (the free version of the software) which allows you to add comments from within the program via a simple keystroke:


Both of these tools work fine.

An important thing to note with these comments are, that they stick to the file itself, so if you move the file to another computer, the comments come along. That’s not true with several other tools that add comments to files, such as (the largely defunct) ExplorerPlus‘ Notes feature, and another file annotating tool called AnnotSX, where comments are stored separately can’t be seen without the program installed.

The other thing to note is that this comments feature is useful, but it’s not that useful. I find it helpful to differentiate files (‘Threat to sue bank’) or adding comments to photo or sound files with boring names like DSS0812901.dss (‘Steve Jobs interview’).

But I’ve not found a way to find files using the comments field; maybe a reader has. And I’m not sure how this works, or doesn’t work, under Vista. Once again, any insight welcome.


Published by:

Jeremy Wagstaff

Jeremy Wagstaff is Chief Technology Correspondent, Asia, for Thomson Reuters. He has worked as a reporter, editor and columnist for Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, the Far Eastern Economic Review and the BBC. . He has lived and worked in Asia since 1987 and is currently based in Singapore.

Categories medium37 Comments

37 thoughts on “How to Add Comments to Files (Win XP)”

  1. hey, thanks for this article, im recently organizing my files and finding a way to tag files in xp but there seems to be no software to do it, thats when i found about comment which can substitute as a way to tag files in xp.

    i recommend xplorerlite more than hob comment for multiple file comments, i also found a nifty program called changext which not only changes the file extension, it also have extra feature and on is to quickly add/change comments per file. and i found a way to quickly scan comments, xyplorerpro has this feature but if you do not want to buy this just for this feature i suggest using xnview which is free and i use to find commented files – so there this is sorta like tagging for windows.

  2. Windows Desktop Search (v3.01 – will index the file attribute fields and make them searchable on Win XP/2003 (and, I’m sure, on later versions).

    I tried unique words in the Category, Keywords and Comments fields and they all showed up in WDS search results.

  3. hob comments works fine if you follow the install instructions correctly…there are two “dll” files to install for win Xp SP 1/2/3 users. though it doesn’t work in vista according to the author.

    i like hob comments as it dosent rwquire me to have a program running to be able to do it…

  4. [sentence deleted] You forgot to mention that this only works for MP3’s. All files in the XP/windows/system32 don’t even show a Summary Tap in Properies, Not even folders have that option.
    I even check it with exe and zip files and others I have downloaded, and still.. the only time Summary shows up in Properties is on MP3’s and perhaps other audio files that are compatible..

    However, I do find a comment tab, here and there but not on all programs. But the comments don’t show up where is says comments in the windows file manager.

    [three sentences deleted]

  5. Some sentences in the above comment have been deleted. I usually remove comments by people who seem to lack basic social and grammatical skills but I’ve let this one stand.

    I’m not actually sure what the commenter is talking about. Anyone care to guess?

  6. Tagging PDFs is a challenge, unless one has stumped up quantities of $£s for more than reader capabilities. I’m trying cutePDF Professional version, have just started, but so far I still need something that’s quick. Any suggestions?
    PS there used to be a phrase about the European Union and butter mountains. PDF mountains today!

  7. Thanks for the info on adding comments. Do you know of any music players (mp3) that will display what the added to the comments as the music is playing? And what is the limit of an added comment’s length? Thanks in advance

  8. In reply to Les, this work well on NTFS, works some times with FAT32 and doesn’t work with FAT. Thank you for the tip.

  9. On my XP installations, all fields in a file’s Properties/Summary window are greyed out, read-only. What Windows setting controls that?

  10. Les was saying that there the comments tab is only part of properties for *some* files, eg mp3, txt. My workaround is to rename add a .txt suffix to the problem file, add the comment, then restore the original name. The comment will then still appear in the folder listing even though it is unaccesible via properties.

    I wonder if the HobCommentXP app enables it for all filetypes. If so your tip is doubly appreciated. Off I go to try it.

  11. I used this in XP Pro and it worked well. Now I am using Win7 Pro 64bit and can setup the comments column as befor but cannot find how to add the comment to the file. There is no summary tab in the file properties.
    Can you help? Is there a way to add a comment in Win7?

    1. Jim, I’ve not tried this with Win7; their tagging system in Explorer seems, on the surface, to improve on the previous workarounds, but this only works for some types of file, so I’m not sure it’s all that much of an improvement.

  12. Jeremy if I understand you correctly you have added comments to some files in Windows 7?
    If can you tell me how you did it please, because I am stuck with no succes at all file types in Win7 on any file/folders.

    1. Jim, that’s right. There’s a tagging option in Windows Explorer for some files–Word files, music files, and one or two others. Click on a file in explorer and you should see some fields at the bottom of the window.

  13. Jeremy if I understand you correctly you have added comments to some files in Windows 7?
    If can you tell me how you did it please, because I am stuck with no succes at all file types in Win7 on any file/folders.
    Sorry about the dup post.

  14. OK I had not seen the comments field at the bottom of the screen with a few file types, thanks Jeremy.
    But this is not really what I am trying to do.
    In XP using the “Details” file view, a right click in the columns heading area would bring up a list of possible columns, then selecting the comments field there would place that column on the screen. This is also possible with Win7, so far so good.
    Then in XP one could add a comment to a file, (for any type of file in any folder), by right-clicking the file and selecting the properties option, then the summary tab one could then type a comment and it was displayed in the comments field on the screen. This worked for all file types in any folder and was VERY useful when the filenames were at best undescriptive. In Win7 it appears this is NOT possible, very disappointing!!!!

  15. Hi,
    I’ve read all these posts and I too am disappointed by the inability to add personal comments (not tags) to file properties in Win7. I used to do it to eBooks to indicate I had read them and to rate them and to further identify nonsensical names of .exe and other files. However, this functionality is gone in Win7. Does anyone know of a fix or a download that will add this feature? Thank you very much!

  16. The comments are limited to a certain number of characters and sometimes my comments are cut of blunt, because of this.
    Any idea how I can have this buffer enlarged?

  17. I noticed that for non-office applications, if we save the file after the command is inserted, it will be erased. Is there any way of preventing this ? Thanks !

  18. This is somewhat late in the game, but it might be useful to anyone searching – as I was – for a way to add a Comment to a PNG file.

    It turns out that there are no less than three Comment fields under the Explorer in Windows XP (SP3). One is actually called Comment, one is called Comments, and one is called File/Folder Comments. The last one is significant.

    It turns out that the contents of the Comments field (the one you see when you select a file, choose Properties by whatever route you prefer – I like right-clicking, and use the Simple (not Advanced) View of those properties) is copied to the File/Folder Comments field.

    So if you change the PNG file extension (to blank, for example – just rename the file so that the .png part is deleted) and then pull up Properties, if you put something into the Comments box in the Simple View – which is now editable – apply the changes – and then exit viewing Properties, when you change the filename back to .png you lose the view of the Comments field, BUT – and this is the useful bit – if you view File/Folder Comments in the directory display (you know how to do that) you can see your comments and what’s more, they’re sortable.

    Why it’s made so difficult I do not know. But at least there’s a way to do it.

    If anyone wants to chat more, send me a message via my Effluvium blog.



  19. A follow-up to my earlier comment: the File/Folder Comments column is apparently installed by the Hobcomment DLL (one of them – there are two). I hadn’t realized that when I wrote the earlier post.

    However, the presence of the new field is not consistent – it shows up in some folders and not in others, and I’m trying to uncover two things – one, why the inconsistent behavior, and two, can a user add in their own field using perhaps the registry?

    I haven’t seen the earlier post appear here – hopefully it didn’t get classified as SPAM (WordPress has a habit of doing that, something I’ve noticed in my own blog).



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