Folder Sorting

ByLine
Sort your folder views using more than one column header
Synopsis
When you have a Windows Explorer folder view open, or a File Dialog, clicking on a column header will sort the view using that column. But what if you you want to sort using the values of more than one column, like you can do in most spreadsheet programs? This tutorial shows you how.
Folder Sorting

Standard Sorting
In all views of Windows Explorer, including File Dialogs used by programs, clicking on a column header will sort the view using that column. Clicking on the same column header will reverse the sort.

For purposes of clarity, the screenshots in this tutorial show a folder view where the columns have been customized to show only the Name, Tags, Size and Title headers.

Screenshot 1
advanced_sorting_1.jpg
Folder sorted by Name

In the above screenshot, you can see that the view has been sorted by the Name column.


Screenshot 2
advanced_sorting_2.jpg
Folder sorted by Tags

If you were to click on the Tags column, the sort will be performed according to the Tags of the files. If the Tags are the same, then Windows Explorer will sort the files according to the Name column.


Screenshot 3
advanced_sorting_3.jpg
Folder sorted by Title

Clicking on the Title column will sort the view according to the Title of the file. If the Titles are the same, then Windows Explorer will sort the files according to the Name column.

Advanced Sorting
But what if you want to sort a view first by Tags, and then by Title? Under ordinary circumstances, you might think that this cannot be done, because if a sort is performed on any column header other than Name, then the Name column is used as a fallback if the values are identical, as shown in screenshots 2 and 3 above.


Screenshot 4
advanced_sorting_4.jpg
Folder sorted by Tags and Title

In Screenshot 4 above, the Tags column was clicked to sort by Tags. But the fallback sort for identical tags is being done on the Title column, not the default Name column.

This was accomplished by first clicking on the Tags column, and then holding down the <CTRL>+<SHIFT> keys when clicking on the Title column.

Screenshot 5
advanced_sorting_5.jpg
Folder sorted by Tags, Title and then Size

But it does not end there. If you then <CTRL>+<SHIFT>+Click the size column of Screenshot 4, then the sort will be extended to include the Size column, changing the sort order to Tags, Title then Size.




When modifying the sort order of folder views, make note of the following:
  • You must use a normal click to specify the first column that will be used for the sort.
  • The order in which you <CTRL>+<SHIFT>+Click additional headers determines the priority used when sorting.
  • In all cases the Name column will always be last in the order of sorting, so that if all the criteria you have specified is identical, the files will be sorted by Name.
Related Tutorials
1. General Tips - Advanced Windows Searches

2. How to Change the Windows Explorer Columns and Sort Order in Vista
 
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Comments

Wow finaly found how to do this! One question, is this also possible on my older Windows XP?
I've just had a look on a virtual Windows XP, and the answer is no. This feature for advanced sorting was introduced with Windows Vista.
 
Wow finaly found how to do this! One question, is this also possible on my older Windows XP?
I've just had a look on a virtual Windows XP, and the answer is no. This feature for advanced sorting was introduced with Windows Vista.
But in the meantime I did find a alternative method how to do this in windows
XP. The sort order is all based on the order of the columns, the files will be sorted on the column you click on first, and then it will be sorted on the first column that is next to it :)

So it is possible, in another way.
 
I know how to sort normal folders, but my immediate problem is sorting the recently used folder. It sorts alphabetically - which defeats the whole purpose of a recently used list!
 
I know how to sort normal folders, but my immediate problem is sorting the recently used folder. It sorts alphabetically - which defeats the whole purpose of a recently used list!
I assume you mean the "Recent Items" submenu of the start menu? As far as I can tell, it can only be sorted by name, like everything else on the Start Menu. You can right-click "Recent Items" then select Explore, and sort by type, etc, but that has no effect on how it gets sorted when displayed in the start menu.
 
Thanks for the reply, I thought it happened when I manually sorted the list one time alphabetically. Perhaps my problem then, is that the folder isn't clearing? The same files from a long time ago are sorted to the top and the only ones viewable.
 
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