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How to Change the Windows Explorer Columns and Sort Order in Vista
Synopsis
This will show you how to add, remove, move, change the width, and change the sort order of Windows Explorer columns to how you want them.
How to Change the Windows Explorer Columns and Sort Order in Vista


information   Information
This will show you how to add, remove, move, change the width, and change the sort order of Windows Explorer columns to how you want them.
Note   Note

  • To apply these changes to all of the same folder type templates, see the last section of this tutorial below. External devices will not retain their folder view settings when turned off or disconnected from the computer.
  • If Vista does not remember the folder view settings you make below to the window for when it was last closed, then see: How to Reset Windows Explorer Folder View Settings to Make Vista Remember




OPTION ONE
How to Add or Remove a Column

1. Click on View on the menu bar and click on Choose Details, or right click on the column bar and click on More. (See screenshots below)​
2. To Add a Column
A) Check a column name, or click More to see more column names to check.​
B) Click on OK to apply if you clicked om More.​

3. To Remove a Column
A) Uncheck a column name, or click More to see more column names to uncheck.​
B) Click on OK to apply if you clicked on More.​
Right_Click_Column.jpg
Choose_Details.jpg






OPTION TWO
How to Move a Column

METHOD ONE:
1. Click on View on the menu bar and click Choose Details, or right click on the column bar and click on More. (See screenshots above)​
2. To Move the Column to the Left
A) Highlight a selected (checked) column name and click on Move Up.​
B) Click on OK to apply.​

3. To Move the Column to the Right
A) Highlight a selected (checked) column name and click on Move Down.​
B) Click on OK to apply.​


METHOD TWO:
1. Right click on a column name and hold the mouse button down. (See screenshot below)​
2. Drag the column into a column you want it to go to the left of, then let go of the mouse button to drop it.​
Drag_Column.jpg






OPTION THREE
How to Change the Width of a Column

METHOD ONE:
1. Click on View on the Menu bar and click Choose Details, or right click on the column bar and click on More. (See screenshot below)​
2. Select a column name that you want to change the width for to highlight it.​
3. Type in a width number in pixels next to Width of selected column (in pixels) at the bottom.​
NOTE: Repeat steps 2 and 3 for anymore columns that you wish to change the width of. 80 pixels is as low as Vista will allow you to go.
4. Click on OK.​
Choose_Details.jpg


METHOD TWO:
NOTE: This only works if you have Details selected in View or Views.
1. Move the pointer over the line between the column names until it turns into a cross with double horizontal arrows.​
2. Left click on the line and hold.​
3. Drag the column line to the width you want it to be.​
4. Let go of the left mouse button.​

METHOD THREE:
NOTE: This will size the column(s) to allow what is under them to fit between the column lines.
1. To Size a Column to Fit
A) Right click on a column name and click on Size a Column to Fit. (See screenshot below)​
OR
B) Move the pointer over the line between the left column that you want to "Size to fit" and the one to the right of it until it turns into a cross with double horizontal arrows, then double click the left mouse button.​

2. To Size All Columns to Fit
A) Right click on the column bar and click on Size All Columns to Fit.​
Right_Click_Column.jpg







OPTION FOUR
How to Change the Column Sort Order

METHOD ONE:
1. Click on a column name bar to change the sort order of the files and folders in the window to be sorted by that column type. (See screenshot below in Method Two)​
NOTE: Notice that the arrow in the middle of a column name indicates which column is being used to sort the window by.
2. Click on the column name bar to cycle through the sort orders for it until you see the one you like.​

METHOD TWO:
1. Click on the drop down arrow to the right of the column you want the window to be sorted by. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: Notice that the arrow in the middle of a column name indicates which column is being used to sort the window by.
2. Click on the sort order option you want.​
NOTE: Each column name has different options to select from.
Sort.jpg


METHOD THREE:
1. Click on View on the Menu Bar, or right click on a empty area in the Windows Explorer window. (See screenshot above)​
2. Click on Sort By, Group By, or Stack By.​
A) Choose the sort order you want the window to be sorted by.​
NOTE: If you click More, you will be taken to the Choose Details windows.
View_Sort_Options.jpg







OPTION FIVE
How to Change the Size of the Icons

1. Click on View on the Menu Bar, or right click on a empty area in the Windows Explorer window. (See screenshot above Method Three in OPTION FOUR)​
A) Click on Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Small Icons, List, Details, or Tiles. (See screenshot below)​
View.jpg

OR
2. Click on Views on the toolbar​
A) Click on Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Small Icons, List, Details, or Tiles. (See screenshot below)​
Views.jpg


OR
3. Right click on a empty area in the Windows Explorer window, and click View.​
A) Click on Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Small Icons, List, Details, or Tiles. (See screenshot below)​
Right_Click_View.jpg


Tip   Tip
How to Apply the Changes to All the Same Folder Type Templates
NOTE:
This is to apply the changes made to all windows of the same folder template as the current window.
WARNING: This must be done from within the window that you are changing, or it will not work.

1. Click on Tools on the Menu bar and click on Folder Options.

2. Click on the View tab. (See screeshot below step 7)

3. Check Remember each folder's view settings.
NOTE: If unchecked, Vista will ignore custom view settings for every folder and have every folder open using default settings instead. Only, uncheck this setting to force all folders to stop using display settings you have specified.

4. Click on Apply.

5. Click on the Apply to Folders button.
Apply_to_Folders.jpg
6. Click on Yes to the confirmation prompt. (See screenshot below)

7. Click on OK. (See screenshot above)
Folder_Views_Confirmation.jpg



That's it,
Shawn




 
Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink

Comments

Thanks mate, helped a lot.

Vista Game Browser kept on resetting to small icons and sorting by 'Last Played', even though I set it to 'Large Icons' and 'Sort By Name'

Was really starting to piddle me off.
 
Good info, Shawn. But, is there a way to 'not' sort files within a folder? I have a situation where I need to retrieve files from another source and paste them into one of my folders in the 'exact' order in which they were retrieved. Probably a simple answer that I am overlooking. Thanks, HDL
 
Hello Sysmanint, and welcome to Vista Forums.

There will always be some type of sort order, but the good news is that you can always easily change it to how you want it instead. :geek:

Shawn
 
Thanks. A couple of times, I have noticed the files are not sorted and I see no ascending/descending arrows in the column heading. This is exactly what I am seeking but I cannot seem to duplicate the scenario.
 
It depends on what column the arrow is on for the files to be sorted by that column type (ex: Name). You can click on a different column to change the files to be sorted by another column type instead. For example, sort by Date instead of Name.
 
You're welcome Sysmanint. I wish there was a way to not have any sort orders for selected folders as well.
 
Thanks for that. For me Vista is 99% good. The 1% missing relates to resizing columns. Why won't Vista Explorer let me resize columns to what I want, not what it thinks I should want (like XP used to)? I want to make my size column 50 pixels wide not 80. I really do not need it to tell me that the size is in KB (which btw should read kB) as I already know that. Those redundant 30 pixels are taking up valuable screen real estate on my 1280x800 notebook screen. I run two Explorer Windows side by side (in the old Norton Commander configuration) and need every spare pixel to be able to see the columns that I use.

Maybe there is a registry hack or tweak that can do it. If so, please advise. Have posted this on 10 forums so far, no answer. If you can help me lift my Vista rating to 100%, I would be very grateful.
 
Hello Jonricho,

Using Method One in OPTION THREE in this tutorial should allow you to change the pixel width for any selected column that you want.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
Thanks Shawn, quick response appreciated.

Afraid your solution doesn't work. On my Vista Business system, if you type any figure less than 80 in the Width of selected column (Size), it does not accept it.

Another solution is required. In XP you could drag the column width to any that you want, which you can also in Vista, AS LONG AS IT IS MORE THAN 80 PIXELS. Hope you can advise
 
I see you what you mean now. Yes, it appears that 80 pixels is as low as Vista will allow you to go for a column width. There is no way around this as far as I know. :(
 
Thanks again - I still hope there is a a solution lurking somewhere in the registry or an ini file. But am rapidly losing it (hope)!

Hopefully Windows 7 will not have such a limit. Maybe you can use your MVP status to suggest this to MS. And if you're on the blower to MS, perhaps also say that one of the things I value most about Vista Explorer is the "dancing folders column" which relocates depending where you are in the folder hierarchy. This saves substantial screen real estate. I hope they can keep it, at least optionally, in Windows 7, but have read on one blog that it has been killed.

I would tell them myself, but need Windows Live, which I have tried 3 times to join and failed each time.

Regards
Jon
 
The same 80 pixel limit is in Windows 7 to. I'll continue to look for a way to bypass this, but I think that it may be something that is hard coded in the OS.

I'm not sure what you mean though by "dancing folders column".

That is strange that it failed to to sign you up for a Windows Live ID. Did you have cookies enabled, and any messages why?
 
Thanks again. Sorry to hear 7 has continued Vista's approach re column width. Maybe its time I moved to a third party program such as Total Commander or Cubic Explorer.

Dancing folders is how I describe the folders pane in Explorer, which relocates the tree depending where you are in the hierarchy. Thus if you move to a lower level, all the folder icons move to the left, if you move to a higher they move to the right, thus letting you see only the level of folders that you are interested in. This allows the lefthand pane in Explorer to remain narrow, and still allows easy movement between levels. It would be shame if 7 killed this off. It was a very clever development in Vista, but some newsletter writers profess not to like it.

Windows Live: Always the same message (again this morning, though I came at it a different way - signing up for hotmail, to see if that helped - it didn't). Message read today:
We're fixing a temporary problem with Windows Live ID sign-up.
Please try again.
If you continue to get this error try again later.
OK Error code: 100 : 0x800482de : 2009-07-09T23:31:16 GMT

Always the same or similar message - now 4 times in 2 months or so. Help appreciated. Sorry to take your time.

Rgds Jon
 
Thanks for this - it was very helpful as I do mostly technical work with music files, and the default view is nothing like what I need. :geek: Now if they'd only fix the problem with Vista forgetting half the last used folder settings, I'd be content.:confused: Is there some upper limit to the number of folders Vista keeps settings for, as someone suggested elsewhere?:devil:
Tony P
 
Thanks for your suggestion, Shawn. I was skimming late last night looking for quick fixes. The 35-step procedure for cleaning up the registry -- I presume that's the Method 3 you were pointing me to -- looked a bit intimidating :eek:, so I put if off until after I'd done the quick general fix for all music folders. That almost worked -- I opened one folder that still had the default columns. I do have SP2, so that evidently didn't fix the general problem. Sigh...

Tony P
 
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