19. September 2015 · Comments Off on Create YouTube Playlist Links – No Login Required · Categories: Video, Windows · Tags:
YouTube playlists are a useful way to watch videos in sequence or for sharing a list of videos with others. However, at times it may be insecure to share playlists created from your personal account or inconvenient to log in into your account to create them. This guide describes how to create playlists in a single link that allows you to view your videos immediately, save them for later, or to share them with others – without logging into your YouTube account.

youtube filmstripA YouTube playlist can be created manually by concatenating the unique videoIDs, separated by commas, to the URL:


A completed playlist will thus look like so:


Just paste the completed link into your browser to start the playlist. A more complete explanation of this process can be found at the following blog post:  How to Create YouTube Playlists without Logging In.

Creating playlists manually can be inconvenient, so a way to accomplish this automatically with a script was sought. Because the Windows command-line doesn’t easily support the clipboard without 3rd part tools, AutoHotKey was used instead since it can manipulate the clipboard more easily. AutoHotKey version was used for the script and tested on a system running WinXP.

AutoHotKey script: youtube_playlist2.ahk

To use the script, run it to monitor the clipboard for youtube.com/watch, youtube.com/embed/, or youtu.be; text which is used in normal, embedded, or shortened YouTube video links. The script generally ignores any other text, so in most cases, the script can be active and not interfere with normal clipboard activity.

After starting the script, a popup message (shown below) appears to alert the user that the script has started and informs the user that CNTL +Y will create the playlist link and copy it to the clipboard, and CNTL + Z exits the script.

AutoHotKey popupEach time a YouTube video link is copied to the clipboard, a Traytip displays the link that was processed and how many video links in total were copied and processed. Hit OK to continue. Wait 2.5 seconds between selecting videos (when the Traytip disappears) before selecting another video.

After selecting all your videos, use CNRL + Y to copy the final playlist to the clipboard. Another popup message (screenshot below) will appear. This popup indicates the total number of videos in the playlist, the final playlist link, how to exit the script, and reminds the user that the playlist link has been copied to the clipboard. The playlist link is ready to use by pasting it into a browser or in an email. After hitting OK you can continue adding videos or use CNTL + Z to exit. Exit and restart the script to clear everything out and start over.playlist final popupThe script can be customized by the user as desired.

14. March 2015 · Comments Off on Automate mp3 File Concatenation with Windows Command-line Tools · Categories: Audio, Windows · Tags:
Although it requires a bit more technical effort than GUI-based applications, merging mp3 files with the command-line allows for a faster and more complete merging process and more flexibility and customization options. This guide demonstrates how to use a batch file and free Windows command-line tools to concatenate two or more mp3 files, preserve the ID3 metadata, and repair and verify the integrity of the combined file. The information in this guide was tested on system running XP SP3 32-bit and should be similar for other Windows versions.

merging mp3s

Command-line vs GUI tools

Command-line tools generally provide more options than GUI-based tools and that’s especially true for tools working with complex SW such as media files, which can be created with many different types of codecs, containers, and formats. Most GUI-based tools use command-line tools on the back-end, but GUIs are rarely able to incorporate all the possible combinations of complex commands and options of those tools into their designs. It’s difficult to design GUI’s that can accomplish difficult tasks and still be easy to use. Because GUI-based application designs are often driven primarily for ease-of-use and wide appeal, functionality and complexity are necessarily reduced in order to accomplish those goals. Command-line tools are the opposite, they are more difficult to learn and to use, but are generally able to accomplish a wider and more sophisticated range of tasks.


Advantages – faster execution, specialized tasks can be accomplished by executing a single script, flexibility/customization (adding tools, changing options, etc.), free, uses less system resources

Disadvantages– requires coding or understanding code, takes more time and effort to configure, less intuitive


Advantages – quicker learning curve, more intuitive visually and for multitasking, more complete viewing and listing of information, easier switching between commands

Disadvantages – slower execution (additional programs are often required  for processing ID3 tags or to repair VBR headers), requires more system resources (video, drivers, mouse, etc.), limited options for advanced tasks (especially for free versions), limited availability of easy-to-use but highly configurable applicaions

Command-line Tools for this Guide

The command-line tools used in this guide are:

MP3Wrap (ver 0.5) – Wraps two or more mp3 files into a single file. The command-line executable is mp3wrap.exe.

ID3 mass tagger (ver 0.78) – Copies the ID3 tag to the merged file. This is the download link for the older freeware version, which is the version used in this guide. A newer version (1.21.25) is available here for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems, but it non-free shareware. It includes a GUI and a command-line version.

MP3Val (ver 0.1.8) – Validates and fixes MPEG stream, frame, and header errors. Includes both GUI and command-line versions. The command-line executable is mp3val.exe.

Because MP3Wrap strips and replaces the ID3 tags with its own information, ID3 is used to copy the tags from one of the files. MP3Val repairs any errors in the pre-merged files copied into the merged file or produced during the merging process.

Command-line Examples:

Command-line syntax useage for this guide and in the batch script:

Merge Files

The batch file provides an option to use either the Windows command-line or MP3wrap to merge the files.

The command to merge mp3 files with Windows command-line:

copy /b file1.mp3+file2.mp3+file3.mp3 outputfile.mp3

/b = binary file

Command to merge mp3 files with MP3wrap:

mp3wrap outputfile.mp3 file1.mp3 file2.mp3 file3.mp3

additional commands for MP3Wrap (ver 0.5): mp3wrap_cmd_help:

Copy Tags

The command-line syntax to copy the ID3 tags from input file1 to the output file with ID3:

id3.exe -D file1.mp3 outputfile.mp3

-D = duplicate tags from filename

additional commands for ID3 (ver 0.78): id3_078_help

Fix and Validate

Command-line syntax to fix and validate the output file with MP3Val:

mp3val outputfile.mp3 -f -nb -si

-f = try to fix errors

-nb = delete .bak files (suitable with -f)

-si = suppress INFO messages

additional commands for MP3Val (ver 0.1.8): mp3val_cmd_help

Merging mp3 Files: Process


If using the provided batch file (see below), two steps are required.

1. Prepare the mp3 files

Ensure that the mp3 files to be merged have the same frequency, bitrate, and MPEG coding and layering. Otherwise, the output file may contain non-apparent errors, even if no errors were displayed during the merging process.

2. Drag and drop the mp3 files onto the batch file to merge

Drag and drop the mp3 files all at once and in the order to be processed by the batch script. Rename/renumber the files as necessary to obtain the right order.

Batch File Processing Steps:

  1. Display the order of the mp3 files to be processed
  2. Ask the user to select between merging the files with the Windows command-line or MP3Wrap
  3. Merge the mp3 files into a temp file, “temp_MP3WRAP.mp3”
  4. Transfer the ID3 tags from the first mp3 file to the temp file with ID3
  5. Fix and validate the temp file with MP3Val
  6. Rename the temp file to the first mp3 file and append “_merged” to the file name
  7. Exit

Example Batch File:

Ensure that the file extension is changed to “bat” before using.



blogferret.com – id3.exe – ideal tool for tagging and renaming MP3 files

alexenglish.info – Concatenating MP3 Files in Linux

cephas.net – Merge multiples MP3 files into one

ghacks.net – ID3 Mass Tagger

02. December 2014 · Comments Off on Formula and Data Protection for Excel Worksheets · Categories: Windows · Tags:
This guide demonstrates how to lock cells in Excel worksheets to protect formulas or other data from being changed, while allowing selected cells to remain unlocked. This is useful to prevent accidental changes to the worksheet and to enhance navigability by allowing users to select only the modifiable cells. The information in this guide was tested on a Windows XP system using Microsoft Excel ver. 2003. The steps in this guide should be similar for other versions of Excel. An example worksheet provided for this guide is provided here.

Steps to Protect Excel Worksheets

1. Use the Control or Shift key to select individual cells that are to remain unprotected and modifiable by the user. The screenshot below shows the selected cells in grey. All unselected cells will be protected.

selected cells

2. Right-click over one of the selected cells and select Format Cells… from the right-click menu.

select format cells

3. In the Format Cell dialog that appears, select the Protection Tab and unselect both the Locked and Hidden options and then click OK.

format cells dialog

4. From the application menu, select Tools->Protection->Protect Sheet…

protect worksheet menu

5. In the Protect Sheet Dialog that appears, ensure that Protect worksheet and contents of locked cells a the top and Select unlocked cells from the list are selected and then hit OK.

protect sheet dialog

That’s all there is to it. The Tab key can be used to move between the selectable cells. All other cells are protected. To make changes to the worksheet, select Tools->Protection->Unprotect Sheet…

Recreating directory structures can be a tedious and error-prone chore, especially if using the right-click method to create multiple structures and folders. This guide describes three methods to easily copy directory structures (without files) in Windows: (1) with the command line, (2) with GUI tools dedicated for that purpose, and (3) by configuring a freeware file manager, FreeCommander, to enable this function.


Copying Directory Structures from the Command-line

For those comfortable with the command-line, two commands that can be used for this purpose are the Xcopy and Robocopy, both of which have tons of options. Although others, such as the FOR command could also be used, Xcopy and Robocopy are by far the most popular tools used for this purpose.


Xcopy is included in systems up to Windows 8. XCOPY stands for extended copy. It’s a more powerful version of copy with additional features that can copy files, directories, and whole drives. Note that although Xcopy is included with most versions of Windows, it has been deprecated in favor of RoboCopy.

To use Xcopy to clone a directory without files, use the following syntax:

xcopy /t /e "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder"

/t = Copies the subdirectory structure, but not the files

/e = Copies subdirectories, including any empty ones

When using Xcopy with the above switches, you will be asked to specify whether the target is a directory or a file before the Xcopy command executes, but if the command is executed from a batch file, no user interaction is required.

Note: Xcopy doesn’t display any progress or completed operations information when executed.

Additional Xcopy commands can be found here.


Robocopy stands for “Robust file copy.” It’s a standard feature for Windows starting with Vista. It’s can also be installed in WinXP as part of the Windows Resource Kit.

To use Robocopy to clone a directory without files, use the following syntax:

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf *

same as above but without displaying the status:

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf * >null

same as above and creates a log (overwrites existing log):

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf * /log:yourlogfile.log

same as above and appends to log (appends to existing log):

robocopy "C:\Your Folder" "C:\New Folder" /e /xf * /log+:yourlogfile.log

/e = Copies subdirectories, including empty ones.

/xf = Excludes files matching the specified names or paths. Wildcards “*” and “?” are accepted

Additional Robocopy commands can be found here.

Note: Robocopy displays progress and completed operations information when executed as shown in the below screenshot.

Freeware GUI Tools for copying Directory Structures

Two easy-to-use GUI (graphical user interface) apps dedicated specifically to creating directory structures without files are TreeCopy and Miroirs:

TreeCopy – Portable and freeware. Runs on Win95 to Win8.

treecopy screenshot

Miroirs – Freeware. Requires installation. Runs on XP/Vista/Win7

Miroirs screenshot

xcopy Frontend – Freeware. Portable. Runs on Windows XP or later. Provides an overview of all available parameters and makes it easy to select the needed parameters. Each parameter can be activated by clicking on it. The finished command line can be copied or executed directly.


FreeCommander setup to copy Directory Structures

FreeCommander is a freeware file manager that can be configured to copy directory structures using a customized batch file with the Xcopy and/or Robocopy commands. FreeCommander Ver. 2009.02b was used for this example. These instructions are modified from those provided on the FreeCommander forums.

FreeCommander Instructions

Create a batch file with the following code and save it with any name desired such as “copyFolderStructure_freecommander.bat.” For Xcopy the batch file’s main code consists of:

xcopy %1 %2 /t /e

%1 and %2 are the first and second parameters passed to the batch file (structure to copy and target)
The /t and /e options are the same as above

For Robocopy the batch file’s main code consists of:

robocopy %1 %2 /e /xf *

%1 and %2 are the first and second parameters passed to the batch file (structure to copy and target)
the /e and /xf * options are the same as above

Note: a pause can be entered at the end of either of the batch files above to keep the command window open for viewing the output

Example batch files for FreeCommander:

From the menu, select Extras->Favorite Tools->Edit or use (SHIFT+CONTROL+Y). Click the image below to enlarge.

freecommander menu

Select none from the left-hand column named Categories, then click once in the Items column.

FreeCommander Tools Configuration

Use the Items:Add to list button that appears above the Items column to create an item, for instance Copy Folder Structure.

Select Seek program by clicking the blue arrow next to the program field to navigate to and select the saved batch file’s (e.g. C:\tools\copyFolderStructure_freecommander_robocopy.bat) full path into the program field.

Enter the following into the parameter field:

"%LeftDir%" "%RightDir%" %Dlg%

The variables, %LeftDir% and %RightDir%, pass the address of the left and right folders to batch file parameters %1 and %2. The %Dlg% variable is optional and may be omitted if desired. It is used to display a Run program window (screenshot below) before actually starting the script to allow the folder names to be verified. It also provides a way for the operation to be cancelled.


If desired, add an icon by using the blue button next to the icon field to navigate to the icon’s location.

Make sure the boxes are checked as in the Define Favorite Tools screenshot above before hitting OK.

Tool Selection
The toolbar now contains an entry for copying Folder Structures. The tool can be selected from the menu with Extras->Favorite Tools->Name of your tool or by using the favorites icon (make sure Extras is enabled in Extras->Settings->View->Toolbar if it’s not visible on the toolbar).

Using FreeCommander

To use, select the structure to copy in FreeCommander’s left pane and select the target directory in the right pane. Select and click your tool from the toolbar or menu as described above. After the Run program dialog appears, click OK to continue.

FreeCommander Select

Xcopy doesn’t provide an option to display progress or completed operations. However, with Robocopy, the output will display the copy operation details as shown below (a pause was used in this batch file):RoboCopy Output

If no errors occur, the folder structure will be copied as in the following screenshot:

FreeCommander copied


This guide describes the use of the WinRAR command-line tools (v5.01) for compressing and uncompressing files in a directory and their use in batch files. This guide is an extension of a previous post, Automate Zipping Tasks using the Command-line Interface that explained the use of the command-line tools for two free compression utilities, IZArc and 7-Zip. The information in this guide was tested on a Windows PC running Vista.

compression represented by a vise

WinRAR is a popular and powerful archive manager that can be used from the command-line or with scripting languages such as batch files. It includes two command-line tools, rar.exe and unrar.exe, where rar.exe compresses and unrar.exe uncompresses files. Both are located in the “C:\Program Files\WinRAR” folder in the installable version. Although WinRAR is shareware, it can be used on a trial basis for 40 days. Using WinRAR’s command-line tools is similar to those for IZArc and 7-Zip. The syntax for using the WinRAR executables is:

RAR or UNRAR <command> -<switch1> -<switchN> <archive> <files...> <@listfiles...> <path_to_extract\>

To get a listing of the options for the rar and unrar commands, open a command window, cd to the WinRAR directory, and type rar or unrar and then press enter (rar /?  or rar help may also be used, use rar >rar_cmds.txt or unrar >unrar_cmds.txt to print the command options to a file). For more detailed information, open the rar.txt file in the WinRAR directory which contains the RAR console version user’s manual.

Examples to compress a folder:

rar a -r yourfiles.rar *.txt

creates archive yourfiles.rar and compresses all .txt files in the current folder

rar a -r C:\yourfolder\yourfiles.rar *.txt

creates archive yourfiles.rar in C:\yourfolder and compresses all .txt files in the current folder and its subfolders

rar a -r C:\yourfolder\yourfiles.rar C:\otherfolder\*.txt

creates archive yourfiles.rar in C:\yourfolder and compresses all .txt files in otherfolder and its subfolders

rar a yourfiles 

creates archive yourfiles.rar and compresses all files in the current folder, but doesn’t include subfolders (note lack of extension; WinRAR will use the default extension .rar)

“a” command. Adds to the archive

“-r”  switch. Recurses subfolders

Examples to uncompress a folder: 

unrar x c:\yourfile.rar *.gif c:\extractfolder\

extracts all *.gif files from yourfile.rar to c:\extractfolder\ (trailing backslash required) and restores the folder structure

unrar e c:\yourfile.rar 

extracts all files in c:\yourfile.rar to the current folder (folder structure ignored)

“x” command. Extracts with full paths

“e” command. Extracts and ignores paths

Compression example using Multiple Switches:

rar a -r -ep -u -df -x*.bat e_archive.rar c:\test\*.*

compresses all new or updated files from c:\test and its subfolders to e_archive.rar, deletes the files after they are added to the archive, and excludes any files with a “bat” extension,

“a” command adds to the archive

“-r”  switch. Recurses subfolders

“-ep” switch. Adds files to the archive without including the path information. Multiple can exist in the archive with the same name.

“-u” switch. Equivalent to the “u” command when combined with the “a” command. Adds new files and updates older versions of the files already in the archive

“-df” switch. Deletes files after they are moved to the archive

“-x” switch. Excludes the specified file(s) from the operation

Basic rules for WinRAR:

  • When files or listfiles are not specified, all files in the current folder are processed
  • When specifying all files in a folder, yourfolder or yourfolder\*.* are equivalent
  • Folder structures are automatically saved in archives (but not automatically extracted)
  • WinRAR uses the .rar extension by default, but that can be overridden by specifying the zip extension in the archive name
  • Switches and commands are not case sensitive and can be written in either upper or lower case

Another point is that WinRAR doesn’t appear to use the Windows path environment variable, so it must be specified either at a command prompt, set permanently in the environment variable settings, or specified in a batch file.

To set the Windows path environment variable temporarily at a command prompt or in a batch file, use the following command:

set path="C:\Program Files\WinRAR\";%path%

To set it permanently in the Windows path for your PC:

start–>Control Panel–>System–>Advanced system settings–>Advanced Tab–>Environment Variables–>System Variables–>Path–>Edit. Add the path ;C:\Program Files\WinRAR; to the end (don’t forget the single semicolons at the beginning and end). Hit OK three times.

Using WinRAR in Batch Files:

Two batch file examples are provided, The first (compress_rar_rev1.bat) provides several compression options such as such as compressing all files in a folder or a folder and its subfolders, with options to compress them into a single archive or individually and to include or exclude paths. The second batch file (uncompress_rar.bat) decompresses all .rar files from a folder and places the extracted files into another directory. Be sure to change the extension(s) to .bat before using either file. Both of the following batch files temporarily set the Windows path environment variable for the WinRAR folder when executed.





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