This is super annoying. If I highlight one word in the long filename, the entire filename gets highlighted (usually 1 millisecond before I tap delete or type something else). I just want Windows to highlight what I'm dragging across and stop second-guessing me. Any tweak to bring back old behavior where it just highlights what I select with my mouse?

  • How exactly do you highlight one word? Are you going into rename mode first (ie F2) which highlights the whole filename (excluding the extension) and then clicking and highlight part of the word? If so, then I have any such issues here, which might suggest it is caused by a program such as a shell extension or mouse utility.
    – sgmoore
    Jul 23, 2011 at 10:41
  • @sgmoore in windows7, if you go into rename mode (by, e.g., click once, pause, click again) it highlights the filename, without the extension. If I then click and drag across the one word, sometimes it just selects what I want. But other times it highlights everything, and a millesecond before I type... the entire filename is highlighted and my typing replaces it.
    – CreeDorofl
    Jul 26, 2011 at 20:35
  • I have seen this behavior, but only when a file has been added to that folder and windows/explorer refreshes the view. (Just tried about a dozen times and it worked fine whenever the folder contents remained the same, but goes wrong every time the folder contents change)
    – sgmoore
    Jul 27, 2011 at 8:48
  • @sgmoore - thanks much, I think that's exactly what's happened. I'm trying to rename a file I just moved recently. Windows refreshes the view while I'm in the middle of renaming. Kind of a nuisance.
    – CreeDorofl
    Aug 1, 2011 at 15:10
  • Is there a registry setting that turns off Windows' auto-refreshing? I use Google Drive and it keeps triggering the refreshing apparently. It's very annoying.
    – posfan12
    Feb 21, 2015 at 4:38

5 Answers 5


CreeDorofl and others. The issue is perfectly described by CreDorofl, when he tries to rename part of the filename, the whole name is selected in a split of a second, usually faster then you can react. This makes impossible to change any part of the file name other then the whole name. The reason is of course the refresh. You are trying to change file name in the folder that contains some other file that is changing (you are downloading the file into the same folder and download did not finish) or the file you are trying to change is being moved. Wait until download/moving is finished and you will be able to change whatever you want. You can also try a little test: go to any other folder (that does not contain file being downloaded/moved and try to change names (part of the names) of any file, you should be able to do it without problem.

  • 2
    This explains why it usually only happens to me when I'm working in folders synced to the cloud (Google Drive & DropBox), where the folders will be refreshed as the content is synced. Aug 17, 2018 at 15:05

On Windows 7, once you make an edit to the filename, the auto-selection feature is disabled. But if you're not quicker than Windows's auto selection feature, you'll end up replacing the selection with your input. What I do is:

  1. Press F2 and have windows highlight the name part of the file.
  2. Press Ctrl-x, Ctrl-v to cut and paste back the select.
  3. Now that I've made my edit, I can freely use my mouse or keyboard to select and edit the filename.

Want to edit the entire filename including the extension? Ctrl-a, Ctrl-x, Ctrl-v


I just ran across this issue myself on an external drive and realized refreshing is the problem as mentioned here. To stop it from happening make any edit to the filename quickly before the refresh, such as inserting a space then backspacing. Or use the cut and paste suggestion, although that will overwrite anything you were saving in the clipboard. Then you can select and edit the filename as usual.

  • Gonna mark this as the answer, cheers for coming back to an old thread and adding this. The answer below is basically correct too, but just quickly throwing in a space makes a lot more sense than cutting and pasting (at least in my case where the old filename is not that relevant).
    – CreeDorofl
    May 7, 2012 at 15:27

Well I've come across this as well using my external hard drive. Now you cannot stop the auto-refresh function, but you can be a bit faster than windows.

My example was a bit harder and tougher than what you're all facing, because I am trying to rename IMG_0100.JPG to IMG_10100.JPG so I have to be a lot faster. What I did was the following.

  • Select the file you want to start with
  • press F2 to highlight the file name
  • Rename quickly before windows refreshes
  • Press TAB to move to next file

The renaming process should take you just about few split seconds, and you might screw up every 15 or 20 files, but it is easy to recover it and fix.


If you use the mouse, you only highlight what you drag across. This sounds like a third party program. . .

  • 1
    howdy - I'm not really sure how to explain it but I'm pretty sure it's default win7 behavior. Been bothering me forever. I just tried now to recreate it and of course I can't. Sometimes I get just what I drag across, other times the entire word highlights a split second before typing the replacement word.
    – CreeDorofl
    Jul 26, 2011 at 20:41
  • Yeah, you need a video. I've never heard of anything even remotely similar to this problem. .
    – surfasb
    Jul 26, 2011 at 20:45
  • 1
    think sgmoore figured out what was happening, I was trying to rename a file shortly after moving it (or something else) in the same folder. Windows was refreshing the directory view in the middle of the rename process. If I didn't recently move anything, files behaved as usual.
    – CreeDorofl
    Aug 1, 2011 at 15:13

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