I keep my Explorer View setting on Details. -- When setting my system up, I open an Explorer window, set View to Details, and then in Tools->Folder Options on the View tab I click [Apply to All Folders]. This generally ensures that I see the Details view everywhere I go, including in Search.

Yet sometimes when I run a Search it spontaneously switches back to Icons view. I've seen this problem for years across many different computers running Windows XP. Weeks can go by with no problem, and then blam, Icons again. And when it happens it keeps happening, even though I go back and redo the above configs. How can I prevent this rogue behavior?

(I typically start searches by right-clicking an Explorer folder and picking Search.)

2 Answers 2


How frequently do you Search? (I ask since you mention that as the source of the problem) Windows Explorer retains a fixed number of customizations.

TweakUI is one way to view/modify this value:

TweakUI Folder Customizations setting

From the Microsoft Knowledgebase is this information for manually editing that value:

By default, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 remember each folder's view settings and customizations. This data is limited to 400 folders and is stored in the following registry keys:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ShellNoRoam

Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 instead use the following registry key to store this information:

  • HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell

To increase the number of folders that Windows can remember the view settings for, create a DWORD value named BagMRU Size in each of these registry keys, and set its value data to the number of folders that you want Windows to remember the settings for. For example, if you set the value to 5000, Windows can remember the settings for 5000 folders.

And lastly, this article discusses what to do when your "view settings or customizations for a folder are lost or incorrect."

  • So are you saying that even though I expect that my "Details" setting to "Apply to All Folders", it can really only apply to up to 400 folders, by default?
    – Chris Noe
    Dec 18, 2009 at 18:34
  • That is correct, sir. The only thing the "Apply to All Folders" really does is set the "default" folder settings, and remove any folder-specific customizations.
    – JMD
    Dec 18, 2009 at 19:58

It seems like a bug with explorer search. The settings set by folder options don't appear to be respected by explorer search all the time. Other users have had this problem and no solution has turned up.

What you can do, is use AutoHotkey to change the view as soon as the window appears, or make a hotkey to do so:

#IfWinActive ahk_class CabinetWClass
+d::Send {alt}{v}{down 7}{enter}

This would allow you to use Shift + d to change to details view. It will work in any explorer window with the regular menu bar.

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