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When Windows Explorer sorts files, it first sorts files from directories and only then sorts each group using the sort specified (My default is DateCreated). I don't like this as the default behavior.

I would like it to be a simple sort (without separating files from folders). Is it possible to change, and if so how?

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up vote 22 down vote accepted

Click on Organise > Layout > Menu Bar to enable the menu.

You can then change the way things are sorted and grouped from within the View menu (Sort by and Group By).

Once you've done this, do Tools > Folder Options > View and the select Apply to Folders. However it may not change all of the views as Windows overrides some of them with it's preferred layout.

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Probably the closest you can get. – gkdm Oct 28 '10 at 12:29
That did it for me. Thank you. – Marc DiMillo May 30 '13 at 21:39
There is no view in Windows 7 that will list Files and Folders in strict alphanumeric order (i.e. just treating folders as another kind of file, which is what they in fact are). Every "sort" option lists the folders first, and all of the "arrange options" apart from "folders", hides the folders from the list, showing only files. – RCross Dec 4 '15 at 10:11
Does not for me. Using Win 8.1. I really don't know why this one here has so many upvotes... – kwoxer Mar 6 at 16:02
@kwoxer Because it works in Windows 7 which is what gkdm was asking about. It also works for me in Windows 10 (the buttons "Sort by" and "Group by" are in the "View" tab of the ribbon). If it doesn't work in Windows 8.1 then you should considering taking advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade. – Richard Apr 3 at 13:31

This behavior is not supported in explorer.exe. If it's important enough to you, you can always write or add this feature to one of the open-source ones out there (there are lots of excellent third-party shells for Windows). Potential features are infinite, time and energy are finite, so teams focus on the features they think are most important.

Now this is not your question, but in case you were wondering about Explorer's new "smart sorting" in Vista/Win7, there is a KB article that explains how to revert the sort behavior to a simple strcmp:

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Without any third party tools, the most adequate solution seems to be a search for a wildcard (*.*) selection in the folder containing the files and folder results you wish to interlace, and then sorting by name.


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I'm not taking credit for any of the information found after this paragraph and the last paragraph. The following information was found doing a Google search, from

If the Windows Explorer default view and order of a folder’s files is not satisfactory enough for you, there is a way to change it. For example, let’s say you need to have your files by default ordered by type and viewed as a list – not as large icons, nor in detailed view, etc, and not just by name, but first sorted by type and then by name.

  1. Make sure you have only one Explorer window open. Right click on an empty space of a folder and select “View – List”, then right click again and select “Sort by – Type” (if you don’t see the “Type” option, click on “More…” at the end of Sort Options and in the list that appears find the “Type” option and bring it to the top of the list.)

  2. Press the alt key to release the top menu of Explorer, and go to “Tools – Folder Options”. Go to the second tab (“View”) of the dialogue box that appears, and press the “Apply to Folders” button. You will be asked to confirm; do it.

  3. Close the window by pressing the Ctrl key and (with this key pressed) clicking the x button at the right top of Windows Explorer. You may need to repeat this for each folder type, since Windows keeps different default options according to folder types (image folders, document folders, etc). After a while you will need to repeat the first and the third step, since Windows will revert to its default sorting options after you have opened some (thousands of) times the Windows Explorer.

I hope that my finds were helpful to you. Good Luck-

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This answer shows how to create default folder settings. That's not what I asked for (but thanks). – gkdm Oct 27 '10 at 20:17
Sorry, I should have read the link a little more carefully. I will look more tomorrow, if I have a chance. – David Oct 27 '10 at 21:08
@gkdm: Tested and it works. +1 – Răzvan Panda May 15 '12 at 12:14

I've only tested this in Win7. In the Explorer search field (upper right). Use the "folder:" filter and then use the full path to the target folder in double quotes. By target folder, I mean the one that you would like to view with folders mixed with files. i.e. Your current directory.

folder: "<full path to target folder>"

e.g. folder: "C:\Users\bgrupczy\Downloads"

You can then sort by name or even date modified and they will be mixed.

I first answered in: Windows 7, any way to sort folders and files all mixed together?

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protected by Community Oct 10 '12 at 2:38

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