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Windows Explorer Auto Arrange - Disable in Windows 8

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How to Disable Auto Arrange in File Explorer to have Free Sorting in Windows 8 and 8.1

information   Information
In Windows 8, auto arrange is enabled by default so that all file and folder names in File Explorer are sorted alphabetically no matter what folder view you used.

This is basically like having how you can arrange icons how you like on your desktop in every folder in Files Explorer now.

This will show you how to disable Auto Arrange to be able to sort your files and folders in any random order you like in File Explorer without it having to be sorted alphabetically by name in Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 8.1, and Windows RT 8.1. Windows 8 will also remember these random folder sortings, and open as how they were when the window was last closed.

Note   Note


  • When auto arrange is disabled, you can arrange items in any order and position using Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Small Icons, and Extended Tiles folder views.

  • When auto arrange is disabled, and you are using Details folder view, you can only arrange items in any order and not in any position.

  • When auto arrange is disabled and you switch from a Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Small Icons, and Tiles folder view to Details folder view, it will reset auto arrange to list all items in the folder in the order that you had them arranged in instead of any position. You will have to rearrange the positions how you like again afterwards.

  • When you disable auto arrange, and either unzip a file in a folder, move a folder, or rename a folder, it will refresh and auto arrange the files in that specific folder only after each time you do this. Auto arrange is still disabled for that folder, but you will need to arrange the files back to whatever non-auto arranged order you like again after unzipping a file in a folder, move a folder, or rename a folder.

  • The Auto arrange and Align to grid options, when you right click or press and hold on an empty area in the folder and click on View, are only available (not grayed out) while using the Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Small Icons, and Tiles folder view.

  • To enable or disable auto arrange for a specific folder, you can right click or press and hold on an empty area in the folder, click/tap on View, then click/tap on Auto arrange to uncheck (disable) or check (enable) it for that specific folder.

  • If you use Apply to Folders, it will reset auto arrange to list all items in the folders in the order that you had them arranged in instead of any position. Using Apply to Folders will also have View -> Auto arrange checked (enabled) afterwards for all these folders. You will need to uncheck Auto Arrange in each folder affected by "Apply to Folders" to be able to arrange in any position in these folders again.

warning   Warning
DO NOT USE this tutorial in any other OS than Windows 8.

  • While this tutorial will allow you to disable auto arrange in the Libraries folder itself, it will not disable auto arrange inside any of the other library folders (ex: Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos).
  • Free sorting is not available if you use "Group by" views instead of only "Sort by" views.
  • Free sorting is not available in the List and Content folder views.


EXAMPLE: Auto Arrange Enabled and Disabled
NOTE:
Notice in the screenshot with Auto Arrange disabled, the files can be dragged around the File Explorer window to sort how you like without having to be in alphabetical order.
Enabled.jpg
Disabled-1.jpg
Disabled-2.jpg







OPTION ONE
To Disable Auto Arrange in Windows 8 File Explorer

warning   Warning
It is also recommended to create a restore point before doing this option in case you would like to undo any unwanted unknown side affects that OPTION TWO may not undo. This way, you could also do a system restore with this restore point to undo this option completely.
warning   Warning


1. Click/tap on the Download button below to download the BAT file below.​
Disable_Windows_8_Explorer_Auto_Arrange.bat
download


2. Save the .bat file to your desktop.​
3. Close everything that you have running first, then run the downloaded .bat file.​
4. If prompted, click/tap on Run.
NOTE: If you like, you can stop getting the Run prompt by unblocking the downloaded .bat file.
5. You will now notice your screen flicker and a command prompt open as explorer is restarted to apply the registry changes.​
6. Let the command prompt count down to finish on it's own without pressing a key.​
7. When it's finished, you will see the This PC window open.​
8. Auto arrange in File Explorer is now disabled.​






OPTION TWO
To Enable Auto Arrange in Windows 8 File Explorer

NOTE: This is the default setting. This option will also reset all folder views back to default.
1. Click/tap on the Download button below to download the BAT file below.​
Enable_Windows_8_Explorer_Auto_Arrange.bat
download


2. Save the .bat file to your desktop.​
3. Close everything that you have running first, then run the downloaded .bat file.​
4. If prompted, click/tap on Run.
NOTE: If you like, you can stop getting the Run prompt by unblocking the downloaded .bat file.
5. You will now notice your screen flicker as explorer is restarted to apply the registry changes.​
6. Auto arrange in File Explorer is now enabled again.​
7. You can delete the downloaded .bat file if you like.​
That's it,
Shawn



Related Tutorials


 

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  • Enable_Windows_8_Explorer_Auto_Arrange.bat
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Last edited by a moderator:

Teetee Aych

New Member
Hello to the forum,

I just ran the "Disable..." batch file from the tutorial, made a couple tweaks to how my folders display their contents, and I'm thrilled that this arbitrarily removed feature has been restored.

For Yarders above, and perhaps for others that may be hesitating in confusion, I offer the following re-statement of what is being said here with an adjustment to the language. These things always confuse me, maybe someone else is confused too...

The display of pre-Win7 folders in "windows explorer" (and the current Win8.1 desktop) could be said to have three properties that are relevant here: Sorting, Arranging, and Align-to-Grid. "Sorting" is typically alphabetical by file name, and Post-Vista Windows seems unwilling to allow unassisted mortals to turn it off. "Arranging" is the propensity to show a "packed" display of folder contents, without gaps. "Align-to-Grid" forces items to be displayed in neat rows and columns, but does not address the sequence of items or any white space between them.

The "Disable..." batch files globally turns off both "Sorting" and "Arranging", and does not affect "Align-to-Grid".
From the white space of a folder's contents, the right-click menu has a View option that will allow turning "Auto arrange" on for that folder. This arranges, or "packs" the display, but it does not Sort!
Within the Folder Options menu, on the View tab is a button for "Apply to Folders", which applies these display qualities to (nearly) all folders.

I expect that I have left out a detail or two, and I apologize for that.

A note on odd behavior of Windows Photo Viewer in Win8.1 after running the "Disable..." batch file: With "Auto arrange" left off at the folder level, Windows Photo Viewer will follow _columns_ of photos that have been manually arranged and sorted. It skips over white space nicely though. When I turned "Auto arrange" on at the folder level, the icons are shown "packed" again, and Windows Photo Viewer follows _rows_ of photos, just like it did pre-Win7. It may be relevant that I am not using the Windows-provided "Pictures" folder. I keep my photos sorted in my own hierarchy of folders under C:

Many thanks for providing these batch files that repair the damage done by what I hope was only carelessness at MS. Sorry I got so long.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win 8.1

Yarders

New Member
Hello to the forum,

...........
Thanks for the input, but still gap-filling does not happen in my W8. When I turn of AA (auto-arrange) and then drag files, then turn it on again to fill the gaps, it does fill gaps, BUT ALSO just puts everything back to its original position, i.e. AA'd alphabetically.

What I (and most users, I should think) want is the beautiful XP system, where dragging files automatically filled the gaps, but left everything in the order into which you had dragged them. A hopeless wish?

Happy New Year to everyone, by the way!
 

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  • OS
    W8
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    Laptop
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    Asus
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    16g = 4graphics
    Country Flag
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Teetee Aych

New Member
Thanks for the input, but still gap-filling does not happen in my W8. When I turn of AA (auto-arrange) and then drag files, then turn it on again to fill the gaps, it does fill gaps, BUT ALSO just puts everything back to its original position, i.e. AA'd alphabetically.

I tried it as you described above and got the same results on Win8.1. You're not going crazy. I have left AA on in the folder I am working in, and I get nearly XP-like results as I manually sort. No need to go back and forth between AA on and AA off.

(Are you using one of the "special" folders noted in the tutorial at the beginning of this thread?)
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win 8.1

Fitzdenis

New Member
Not an ideal solution for file arranging due to the gaps being left when arranging but this disable worked for me. Thanks very much.
Fitz
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    windows 8
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP Pavillion

Brink

Administrator
Administrator
mvp
Hello Fitz, and welcome to Eight Forums.

If you like, you could also change the folder view to one that may work better.

Hope this helps, :)
Shawn
 

My Computer

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  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
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    Shawn Brink
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Fitzdenis

New Member
Hi Shawn, thanks.

Changing the folder view undo's my manual arrangement. EG from large icons to list view. Well for photo files anyway. I haven't tried other files yet. Is there any way to save the manual arrangement?

I have a new laptop and was previously using XP so I'm floundering badly with Wins 8.
Fitz
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    windows 8
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP Pavillion

Brink

Administrator
Administrator
mvp
I'm afraid there's not a way to save your folder views like that.

If you're using large icons view, you should be able to arrange them how you like without a gap anymore larger than the normal spacing between icons.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
    Name
    Shawn Brink
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self built
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
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    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
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    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
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    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
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    Other Info
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    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
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    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone
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Brink

Administrator
Administrator
mvp

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
    Name
    Shawn Brink
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self built
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    3 x 27" Asus VE278Q
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    OCZ Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master
    Internet Speed
    1 Gb/s Download and 35 Mb/s Upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Malwarebyte Anti-Malware Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone
    State/Region Flag
    us oklahoma

ConScience

New Member
Hi, first post on this forum...

Not a huge issue but I've noticed that after disabling auto-arrange the details view changes a bit. The column headings now have a coloured box around them and the columns are separated by grey lines.

As I say it's not a big issue, but as I prefer it the other way, is there anyway to stop this from happening?

This screenshot should explain what I'm talking about.

Details View.jpg

Thanks
 

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  • OS
    Windows 8.1
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    PC/Desktop
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    UK
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    uk scotland

Brink

Administrator
Administrator
mvp
Hello ConScience, and welcome to Eight Forums.

Sorry, the example screenshots in the tutorial were from Windows 8 and not 8.1. They are a tiny bit different in 8.1.

I've update the screenshots for 8.1, and the column lines in "Details" view are barely noticeable with auto arrange disabled now. :)
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
    Name
    Shawn Brink
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self built
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    3 x 27" Asus VE278Q
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    OCZ Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master
    Internet Speed
    1 Gb/s Download and 35 Mb/s Upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Malwarebyte Anti-Malware Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone
    State/Region Flag
    us oklahoma

ConScience

New Member
Hi Brink, thanks for the reply.

The different version screenshots I used probably didn't help. The column lines weren't really bothering me too much, to be honest.

I've now noticed that the rows become more bunched together and the "additional file info" columns change to black instead of grey. This just seems to make the folder seem more 'cluttered' than before.

Details View Comparison.jpg

Again, not a huge deal, I was just curious if there was a way of changing back and still be able to manually arrange things.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
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    uk scotland

Brink

Administrator
Administrator
mvp
I'm not sure about the darker text, but you are able to adjust the column width and other folder view settings to what you like afterwards.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
    Name
    Shawn Brink
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self built
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    3 x 27" Asus VE278Q
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    OCZ Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master
    Internet Speed
    1 Gb/s Download and 35 Mb/s Upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Malwarebyte Anti-Malware Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone
    State/Region Flag
    us oklahoma

ConScience

New Member
It's the row height that's the problem, not the the column width.

I think I'm just gonna have to get used to it and hope I stumble across an answer at some point.

Thanks for your help though :)
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1
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    PC/Desktop
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    UK
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    uk scotland

Edwin

Well-Known Member
VIP Member
Guru
i disabled auto arrange using the tutorial but now i want to undo it

how can i enable auto arrange if i did not create a restore point?

Option two of the tutorial.
 

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    HP Pavillion
    Gender
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    PC2
    Tablet - Windows 10 Home
  • OS
    Windows 7 Home Premium
    Name
    Edwin
    Show second system?
    Yes
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP Pavillion
    Gender
    Male
    PC2
    Tablet - Windows 10 Home

Brink

Administrator
Administrator
mvp

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    64-bit Windows 10
    Name
    Shawn Brink
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self built
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K OC'd to 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    16 GB (8GBx2) G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 3200 MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    3 x 27" Asus VE278Q
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2,
    250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2,
    6TB WD Black WD6001FZWX
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    OCZ Series Gold OCZZ1000M 1000W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master
    Internet Speed
    1 Gb/s Download and 35 Mb/s Upload
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Malwarebyte Anti-Malware Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    Linksys EA9500 router,
    Arris SB8200 cable modem,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Lumia 1520 phone
    State/Region Flag
    us oklahoma

Tomek

New Member
Hello all,
I have a problem with saving the settings in folders.
1_resize.jpg
After refreshing folder or launch it again - the folder view back to the previous setting (of course Auto Arrange is still off)
2.jpg

please help.

Tomek

System Windows 8.1
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1

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