How to Change the Default View in Windows Explorer


I don’t use Windows Explorer that often. Instead I use MultiCommander which has many more useful features. But sometimes Windows Explorer comes in handy. One of the reasons for this is that Windows Explorer can show the contents of a folder in a number of ways.

Selecting Folder Views Manually

Windows can show you the contents of a folder in exactly eight ways:

  • Extra large icons
  • Large icons
  • Medium icons
  • Small icons
  • List
  • Details
  • Tiles
  • Content

You can select any of these either by using the keyboard or the mouse.

In Windows 7, press Alt+V, then press the underlined letter in the name of each view.


Windows Explorer Folder View menu

For example, to select the Tiles view, press Alt+V and then S.

All the keyboard shortcuts are X, R, M, N, L, D, S, and T — in the order as they are displayed in Windows Explorer and listed above.

In Windows 8, the shortcuts got a little bit easier to remember. Although, I am not sure why would anyone need to remember things such as these, but hey, we are all different. And the shortcuts are Ctrl+Shift+1 to Ctrl+Shift+8, again in the order as the view options are displayed in Windows Explorer and listed above.


Change your view icon

Alternatively, you can use your mouse to change your folder view.

To do this, click on the down arrow next to the icon called Change your view. which is located in the upper right corner of Windows Explorer’s window.

Then simply select your preferred folder view by clicking on its name on the slider.

You may also click on the icon itself, not the down arrow, in which case the folder view will change to the next one automatically.

Windows will remember the folder view you last selected for each individual folder.

Setting the Default Folder View

In case you like one of the folder views best and want Windows to always show the contents of all folders using that particular folder view, then do the following.

Folder Options

Folder Options

In Windows Explorer’s menu bar, click Tools > Folder options….

Alternatively, click on the Organize button located in the upper left area of Windows Explorer’s window. Then select Folder options from the drop-down menu.

Finally, in the Folder Options window, select the View tab and click on the Apply to Folders button.

Windows will then ask you: “Do you want all folders of this type to match this folder’s view settings?”

Simply click on the Yes button and you are done.

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