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?

  • 9
    whose genius idea was this? microsoft sucks at what they do. "Here's an idea. What if we fire our best programmer?" -- microsoft
    – J.Money
    Apr 24, 2020 at 22:30
  • @J.Money "Folders are so HUGELY different from files. Who cares what people name things? Our work is so much more important and interesting than our user's work." -- microsoft
    – Bob Stein
    Sep 24, 2021 at 16:31
  • 1
    There's some articles on the Microsoft website about their reasoning for this decision. They changed it because windows users complained that with folders with over 100-200 listings, they couldn't differentiate between folders and files. There was also a blog article by Microsoft Windows programming staff on MSDN blogs which explains an extended reasoning for it but I can't find it now that MSDN is shut down. archive.is/Vp64P
    – desbest
    Sep 26, 2021 at 14:32
  • 1
    @desbest, normally I would be sympathetic and assume there really was a good reason for x or y design choice. But there are so many random or lazy things in Windows, SSMS, File explorer, Outlook, Excel, ect. that one must conclude that Microsoft is only top dog because of past success.
    – johnDanger
    Dec 22, 2022 at 20:16
  • Un-be-freaking-lievable that this is missing from Windows. I've used Mac and Windows for decades and this has always baffled me, was hoping that by now (Win 10) there was actually a built-in solution. Stunned to find there isn't.
    – JVC
    Nov 1, 2023 at 4:49

5 Answers 5


I found something that actually works! Or, at least it's not as clunky as the previous answers. This is for Windows 10.

Under the View tab, Current View group, choose the Sort by option you want (I chose Date created); also in Current view, choose the same value for Group by.

Set Sort by and Group by to the same thing

It still sorts files and folders separately, but at least they're grouped together. Which solved the problem for me because I wanted to drag a file created today into a folder created today but there was lots of crap in their containing folder so it would require a bunch of scrolling without this.

enter image description here

  • 2
    I was hopeful about this one, but it doesn't actually work. Suppose you pick Name for both sort and group by. Then it creates divisions A-H, I-P, Q-Z, and Other. Within each division, the folders appear first, then the files. I think the OP was looking for a display of folders and files intermingled in whatever sort order was selected--at least, that's what I wanted. So this solution does not work for me. (Your example with DateModified actually illustrates the problem. The folder was created after the earliest file.)
    – vknowles
    May 5, 2020 at 20:38
  • 4
    Right. This technique doesn't get the files and folders to sort together within the groups, but it does keep them together in the same group; so it worked for me by getting the files for a particular day close to the folders for that same day.
    – Sigfried
    May 6, 2020 at 20:09
  • 5
    Looks to be the best compromise ! Oh I miss my Mac ;(
    – Jono
    Oct 8, 2020 at 13:18
  • @Jono same here
    – Ralph
    Feb 6, 2022 at 21:18
  • Despite the OPs issue remaining, this is a great setup that I think I'll keep for good. Thanks
    – johnDanger
    Dec 22, 2022 at 20:21

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.

Source: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1644933

files and directories mixed

  • 2
    but this mingles subfolders in the view...
    – Martin
    Apr 13, 2019 at 0:48
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    this donesn't really solve the problem.. (am in win 10) i don't know why it is voted so high? anybody agree with me? pls vote.
    – ihightower
    Jul 25, 2019 at 3:09
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    It is possible to limit it to the current folder using the search options. After some experimentation, I see that it works on my C drive but not on network shares. Interesting. On network shares, I still see the folders first and then the files.
    – vknowles
    May 5, 2020 at 20:48
  • 1
    It is a fiddly solution. In Windows 11: (1) search * (2) search options | current folder (3) view | details (4) sort.
    – Bob Stein
    Sep 24, 2021 at 16:48
  • @BobStein - this works for me, but how can I save this view for a folder?
    – guthrie
    Oct 2, 2023 at 17:34

EDIT: This may only work on Win10 in classic theme. I no longer have a machine that I can test this on. I can't change my theme on the server I'm on.

Tested in Win7 & Win10. 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?

  • This will also list all of the folders and files within all the folders, recursively. Probably not what most people want. Jul 25, 2019 at 6:33
  • It is possible to limit it to the current folder using the search options. After some experimentation, I see that it works on my C drive but not on network shares. Interesting. On network shares, I still see the folders first and then the files.
    – vknowles
    May 5, 2020 at 20:49
  • Just tried this in windows 10 and it doesn't seem to work, directories still get sorted separately.
    – Codemonkey
    May 7, 2020 at 16:46
  • It may be that I was using the classic theme at the time? I just tried now on a server where I can't change the theme and it does not work.
    – bgrupczy
    May 8, 2020 at 14:49
  • For the subfolder issue. You can limit the search by adding the FolderPath criteria to the serch. Or group the search results by FolderPath Sep 25, 2021 at 20:51

Update: There is now a new App File Tree on Windows 11 store that does this and it is able to sort on size too because it finds sizes of subfolders.

ShowSize software has such a list called "Folders and files list." What is more, this list shows a complete hierarchical list of all the folders and files at all levels.

View folders and files together in a single hierarchical list

  • 1
    I also know this isn't answering the original question, but as a former Mac user who also can no longer afford Apple exorbitant hardware and repair fees, I use a program called "FolderSize" for Windows. You can turn it on and off, and it displays all items in a folder sorted by the size of the contents or by name, all items. So it's not perfect but it's quite useful, and you can turn it on or off as needed, which saves you excess processor usage, which MacOS doesn't offer itself! So far aware it's Win10/11 compatible: foldersize.sourceforge.net
    – Adam Prall
    Apr 3, 2022 at 22:38
  • Suspiciously advertising-like answer...
    – Hakanai
    Nov 5, 2022 at 23:59

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 http://www.thefreewindows.com/?p=2633:

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-

  • 5
    This answer shows how to create default folder settings. That's not what I asked for (but thanks).
    – gkdm
    Oct 27, 2010 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, 2010 at 21:08
  • @gkdm: Tested and it works. +1 May 15, 2012 at 12:14

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