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Disabling Windows Vista / 7 / 8 / 10 Explorer’s Automatic Folder Type Discovery


Update from 2015-09-06: I just used this for Windows 10 and it still works!

I very recently installed Windows 7 on my desktop computer and I'm loving it so far.

One of the major things that bugged me though was the new Explorer behavior. The automatic folder type discovery just goes ahead and tries to determine a folder type just by looking at how many (or if there are) files of a certain type (pictures, videos, songs, ...) are in the current folder, and then it adjusts the viewing settings accordingly. For example, if you open a folder that contains mainly video files, it would show those with big icons instead of my default, a detailed list. Pictures are displayed as thumbnails.

Disabling this behavior proved to be interestingly difficult. As with most things that have been declared a default setting by Microsoft, it luckily can be done - but only via registry.

First we need to delete our current folder type settings.

  • Close all open Explorer windows.
  • Open the registry editor with Start => Run => regedit and browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell.
  • Delete and confirm the deletion of the keys BagMRU and Bags.
  • Now create a Key (right-click on the current key in the left pane and select New => Key) called Bags.
  • Create a subkey for Bags called AllFolders.
  • Create a subkey for AllFolders called Shell.
  • Create a String value (right-click in the right pane and select New => String Value) called FolderType and set the value to NotSpecified.
  • That's it for Windows 7. Please read the note for Windows Vista x64 below. Otherwise, just reboot and your new settings should be applied.

That's it for Windows 7. If you're using Windows Vista x64, it might be possible that there is a copy of (or a similar) the Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell key in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Wow6432Node. I could not confirm this for Windows 7, though I am using the 64 bit version (it just had a CLSID subkey, nothing more). In that case, delete the Shell\Bags and Shell\BagMRU folders like I told you above before finishing your modifications with a reboot.

Warning: as always, playing around with the Windows registry can be dangerous when done incorrectly. If you do not feel safe about it, make sure to back up the keys you're about to modify via File => Export, or leave it altogether. I do not take any responsibility for any damage, nor do I give any guarantee that the steps I provided here will work for you. At least they worked for me.

Hopefully that was of help to you ๐Ÿ™‚

I discovered the initial instructions on Thank's so much ๐Ÿ™‚ Had a hard time finding a guide for that.

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  1. Yes, Windows does write its own values in the folders again (probably when changing or closing an Explorer window), which is why I recommend closing all Explorer windows first, applying the changes to the registry and then rebooting immediately afterwards.

    As I said in my update, I can only confirm that it still works for Windows 10, but I never did test it with Windows 8.1. Wouldn’t make a lot of sense if it worked for Vista, 7, 8, 10, but not 8.1. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope it helps!

  2. Thanks but it doesnโ€™t work in windows 8.1
    I did as you suggested
    But when I restarted it just re-wrote the old values
    Any other suggestions? how do we stop windows from re-writing it?

    reposted because of wrong link

  3. Sometimes little things makes the world a better place.
    So long I retained my anger for those one letter files/dirs because that inappropriate refresh.
    It worked on my w7 pro 64bit first time.
    Remember to export/create a restore point previous to the registry deletion just in case.

  4. herzlichen dank.

  5. Holy carp. This works. (Win 7 64bit). Aug 2016.

    MS really forgot about “power users”.
    People who use their computers.
    Sigh. When will they get rid of “my documents”
    and all that other rubbish that we never use?
    Or the fact that third party software can write files
    into the windows folder??? I mean good grief. Security?

    Thank you for posting this Reg’ edit!

    Love Bob xxxx

  6. THANK YOU! this worked for me on Vista and I’m doing a happy dance now after years of shaking my fist at “genre” and “rating” popping up on folders full of resume stuff.

  7. OMG I LOVE YOU MAN!!!! Can’t tell you how much I hated that auto-folder-type thing!! THANK YOU!

  8. Are you an administrator and did you run regedit in elevated mode?
    I can’t imagine why an administrator with elevated privileges wouldn’t have access to that key.
    Also, I wrote this guide for a fresh install, so maybe you changed permissions to that key in the past, or perhaps a program did.

    PS: Sorry for my late answer. I still hope this is of help to you.

  9. just deny access to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell and explorer doesnt remember settings !!!

    see screenshot what i mean:

  10. Thanks, I already expected that I would have to do something like this in Win7 again, it was already annoying enough in Vista.

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