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By default, Windows' dir command sorts files and directories alphabetically without grouping. The result is files and directories appear interleaved with one another. Sample output:

F:\Dev Kits>dir
 Volume in drive F is Buffer II
 Volume Serial Number is E039-C389

 Directory of F:\Dev Kits

07/26/2011  05:02 AM    <DIR>          .
07/26/2011  05:02 AM    <DIR>          ..
10/08/2009  05:41 PM           408,330 Bat To Exe Converter 1.5.zip
07/26/2011  04:53 AM    <DIR>          Boost
10/27/2009  09:37 PM        20,248,963 CodeBlocks 8.02 Mingw.exe
02/20/2010  12:26 AM         1,251,993 CodeBlocks Manual.pdf
04/18/2010  05:39 PM           610,769 Dependency Walker 2.2.6000 x86.zip
05/29/2010  04:37 PM             4,387 Dev Kits.sha2
07/26/2011  04:59 AM    <JUNCTION>     iOS SDK
01/31/2011  09:40 PM        35,213,765 MinGW GCC 4.4.0_1.zip
11/17/2009  01:41 AM         2,834,808 Notepad++ Portable 5.5.1.exe
01/07/2010  06:04 PM         3,860,528 Notepad++ Portable 5.6.4.exe
11/17/2009  12:31 AM           261,563 Notepad2 4.0.23.zip
03/08/2011  07:07 PM         9,932,872 Opera Mobile 10.1 Emulator.exe
05/25/2010  08:46 AM           162,506 PC-Police.zip
04/05/2010  10:37 PM    <DIR>          Python
07/26/2011  05:02 AM    <DIR>          Qt Framework and SDK
04/05/2010  10:35 PM    <DIR>          Series 80 SDK
07/26/2011  04:52 AM    <DIR>          Symbian SDK
07/26/2011  05:00 AM    <DIR>          Unit Testing
07/26/2011  04:51 AM    <JUNCTION>     Visual Studio Tools
04/07/2011  04:51 PM        17,349,072 Win32 OpenSSL 1.0.0d.exe
02/19/2010  11:05 PM           397,056 Win32pp Compiled Samples.zip
07/26/2011  04:53 AM    <DIR>          Windows Phone SDK
07/26/2011  04:52 AM    <DIR>          Windows Platform SDK
11/14/2009  07:49 PM        12,811,696 wxMSW 2.8.10 Setup.exe
11/15/2009  01:34 AM             2,808 wxMSW Installation.txt
              15 File(s)    105,351,116 bytes
              12 Dir(s)   1,346,224,128 bytes free

Adding the /OGN switch makes the output much more organized:

F:\Dev Kits>dir /ogn
 Volume in drive F is Buffer II
 Volume Serial Number is E039-C389

 Directory of F:\Dev Kits

07/26/2011  05:02 AM    <DIR>          .
07/26/2011  05:02 AM    <DIR>          ..
07/26/2011  04:53 AM    <DIR>          Boost
07/26/2011  04:59 AM    <JUNCTION>     iOS SDK
04/05/2010  10:37 PM    <DIR>          Python
07/26/2011  05:02 AM    <DIR>          Qt Framework and SDK
04/05/2010  10:35 PM    <DIR>          Series 80 SDK
07/26/2011  04:52 AM    <DIR>          Symbian SDK
07/26/2011  05:00 AM    <DIR>          Unit Testing
07/26/2011  04:51 AM    <JUNCTION>     Visual Studio Tools
07/26/2011  04:53 AM    <DIR>          Windows Phone SDK
07/26/2011  04:52 AM    <DIR>          Windows Platform SDK
10/08/2009  05:41 PM           408,330 Bat To Exe Converter 1.5.zip
10/27/2009  09:37 PM        20,248,963 CodeBlocks 8.02 Mingw.exe
02/20/2010  12:26 AM         1,251,993 CodeBlocks Manual.pdf
04/18/2010  05:39 PM           610,769 Dependency Walker 2.2.6000 x86.zip
05/29/2010  04:37 PM             4,387 Dev Kits.sha2
01/31/2011  09:40 PM        35,213,765 MinGW GCC 4.4.0_1.zip
11/17/2009  01:41 AM         2,834,808 Notepad++ Portable 5.5.1.exe
01/07/2010  06:04 PM         3,860,528 Notepad++ Portable 5.6.4.exe
11/17/2009  12:31 AM           261,563 Notepad2 4.0.23.zip
03/08/2011  07:07 PM         9,932,872 Opera Mobile 10.1 Emulator.exe
05/25/2010  08:46 AM           162,506 PC-Police.zip
04/07/2011  04:51 PM        17,349,072 Win32 OpenSSL 1.0.0d.exe
02/19/2010  11:05 PM           397,056 Win32pp Compiled Samples.zip
11/14/2009  07:49 PM        12,811,696 wxMSW 2.8.10 Setup.exe
11/15/2009  01:34 AM             2,808 wxMSW Installation.txt
              15 File(s)    105,351,116 bytes
              12 Dir(s)   1,346,224,128 bytes free

Question: Is it possible to make dir use the /ogn switch by default?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The %DIRCMD% environment variable can be used to specify defaults for dir.

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I added DIRCMD environment variable with /ogn as value via System Properties but it doesn't seem to have effect. Setting it using 'set dircmd=/ogn' works, but it's reset every time I open a new CMD. Any ideas? –  Larssend Jul 25 '11 at 22:50
1  
A few... –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jul 25 '11 at 22:55
    
Did you logoff and login again after you adjusted the variable? –  Zoredache Jul 25 '11 at 23:19
    
@Larssend: If you are using Vista onwards (or add the command on XP and earlier), you can set it persistently for all users with setx DIRCMD "/ogn" /m. –  paradroid Jul 25 '11 at 23:42
    
@all: The DIRCMD took effect immediately on new command prompt session after I closed System Properties on my laptop, but my desktop still refuses to recognize the new variable. So I think there's something wrong with the desktop setup. That's a different problem, so I'm marking this one solved. Thank you all. –  Larssend Jul 26 '11 at 7:16

Try: Control Panel > System > Advanced tab > Environment Variables. Create the system variable "DIRCMD" and assign the value /a /c /p /x /o:gen

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Thanks for trying to help. –  Larssend Jul 26 '11 at 7:16

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