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File Browser UI
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This follows on from T37982 (all the way back in 2013!) which included several plans and UI designs for updating the File Browser layout and interface.

As discussed with @Julian Eisel (Severin) on IRC, we were going to follow on from that old topic, but decided to create a fresh File Browser design task instead.


Currently, the File Browser has a number of issues:

  • The general layout doesn't communicate the hierarchy well
  • The execution button (Open/Save etc) is in the top right
  • The header is overcrowded and not easy to read
  • The operator settings take up too much room, even when it's not needed
  • The sorting is separate from the data-view columns


As it turns out, the three main platforms we support use a surprisingly similar layout for Open/Save dialogs:




Things they have in common:

  • Execute buttons in bottom right
  • Ability to sort items by clicking on the category headers
  • File path at the top, file name along the bottom
  • Source list on the left
  • Display buttons at the top
  • Search in top right

By following the basic common design and layout, Blender will fit in more nicely with all three platforms.

Mockups & Diagrams

Back in 2013, we made these mockups, to visualise what an updated File Browser could look like:

(Disregard the UI styling here, it's not related to this task)

With recent work related to the Asset Browser, we made updated UI diagrams:


  1. We could make it open as a new window by default, which makes it easier to close again, and is more consistent with the Preferences window
    • Currently, using the File Browser takes over the whole window, with a small 'Back to Previous' button.
    • In this state, you still see the active scene and the active view layer, as well as tool settings, all of which make no sense
    • This could be made a single, consistent option that applies to all temporary windows (File Browser, Preferences, Render window)
  2. Might be a good time to remove the '..' buttons to go to the parent directory
    • It's no longer a convention in any of the OS's we support
    • We are still emulating Windows 3.1 here, which is... yikes.
  3. We could make shift-clicking select all items in-between
    • Same thing is needed for the Outliner, could be solved similarly
  4. We should handle deleting data better
    • Deleting files or folders via the File Browser currently hard deletes it without even using the system Trash
    • This is highly error-prone and dangerous - better to just remove the ability to delete from the File Browser, or use the system Trash for Mac, Windows & Linux.
  5. The operator settings region in the bottom left often has the wrong size, and is way too big.
    • We could make the area size dynamic, based on the number of options:



Event Timeline

William Reynish (billreynish) triaged this task as Normal priority.
William Reynish (billreynish) changed Type from Bug to Design.
  1. The operator settings region in the bottom left often has the wrong size, and is way too big.
    • We could make the area size dynamic, based on the number of options:

Committed rBee0d8426ab6 to use dynamic size for the operator settings region. From my tests this actually works totally fine.

I'm not sure if this is the right place, but since one or two days ago, the "recents" tab is collabsed.

I use recent almost every time I open the file browser. So now I have to click twice every time.
It doesn't seem that the layout is saved when I expand the recent tab.