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The behaviour described below occurs on Windows-7 systems and on Windows XP. We operate in a dual-language environment - English and Hebrew.

When in Windows Explorer we sort files by name, the order in which they are listed is not what we would expect. Here is a list of file names as sorted by Windows Explorer (all of the files have a .pdf suffix):

1G110033H-PP
19C050G-PP-ORB
19C050H-PPRM
19C100H-PPRM
19C-MBPS-PP
19C-MBPS-PP-1
29AAC050-PP
29AAC100-PP
29AAC100-PPUL  
29B004064-PP
101AC050-PP
101AC100-PP
101B100-PPE
1091003G-PPFSUL
10108033G-PPSA
10125033H-PPM

enter image description here

It looks to me that first the items are sorted according to the position of the first alphabetic character in the name, and then, within those groups, they are sorted in "normal" alpha-numeric order.

That is, all the files with an alpha character in the first position are on top of the list, followed by those with the first alpha character in the second position, followed by those with the first alpha character in the third position, and so on.

An alternate way of looking at this is that, in a file name composed of numbers and letters, the sort treats the first group of numbers in the name as the major sort node, with the rest of the name being the secondary sort node.

Now that I understand the sequencing logic, it's not a big problem, but I was wondering why this happens?

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Yes it sorts numbers by numeric value and not character by character. In a list of files named by numbers it looks more natural to have 5.txt before 400.txt. –  Brian Apr 23 '12 at 12:23
1  
See here: support.microsoft.com/kb/319827 –  user140786 Jun 18 '12 at 4:53
    
@davebaldwin can you please post it as an answer? –  Aprillion Jul 11 '12 at 7:52
    
@deathApril, he already did, but it was a link-only post, so it was deleted and converted to a comment. –  Synetech Sep 29 '12 at 17:49
    
@Haim, it’s happening because 101 AC050 > 29 AAC050 > 19 C100H > 1 G110033H. –  Synetech Sep 29 '12 at 17:56

2 Answers 2

By default, the newer sort order considers strings in file and folder names as numeric content, not text. Numerals in folder and file names are sorted according to their numeric value.

In the following example, note how the following files, whose names contain numerals, are sorted.

Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003

5.txt
11.txt
88.txt

In this example, 88 is a numerically higher value than 5. Therefore, the 88.txt is listed after the 5.txt when you sort the folders by name in ascending order.

Source: The sort order for files and folders whose names contain numerals is different in Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 than it is in Windows 2000

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In brief:

Add key HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Currentversion\Policies\Explorer

Set DWORD value NoStrCmpLogical to 1

Restart your explorer windows

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/319827

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