Change Folder Settings in Windows 7

Written: 07/27/13

Last Updated: 07/27/13

The default view for files in Windows is not the most functional. This techtorial will show you how to enable some more practical usage. I will cover how to show hidden files and folders, show extensions, add checkboxes next to files and folders, change the view options, and more.

Open Windows Explorer. The easiest way is to simply click on the quick launch icon of the folder; however, if you do not have that, you can press the Windows key and “R” and type “explorer”, as shown below, and then press enter.

run-explorer

The default explorer window is shown below.

default-explorer

The previous image shows the use of tiles as a view. There are a few different views that Windows Explorer supports. You can find the view you most like by pressing the drop-down arrow on the view button (located at where the mouse cursor was on the previous image) and by using the slider. An alternative way is to press ALT and then “V” and pick whichever view you like. I personally prefer the Details view for almost everything.

change-view

To access the folder options, press ALT and then “T” and click on “Folder options…”.

folder-options

If you have never seen the folder options dialog before, I highly recommend poking around and seeing what it has to offer. For now, I will show you how to do some common tasks. Click on the “View” tab. This screen is where you can change how all of the items will appear. It should look something like the below image, ignoring what boxes are checked (those will be covered soon!). Whenever you want to make a change, simply press “Apply” or press “OK” (this will apply the settings and close the window). It should be noted that any settings changed in this window will apply to ALL files and folders on the system.

folder-options-view

If you have set a view that you really like and want to apply it to all of the folders of the same folder type, press the “Apply to Folders” button. There are a few different folder types, so do not be surprised if you stumble across a folder that does not have your desired view settings, but rather take the time to make it whatever you want it to be. Note that Windows will remember the view settings for each and every folder, so by applying to all folders you will override those settings.

To show hidden files and folders, simply click on “Show hidden files, folder, and drives” under “Hidden files and folders”. A hidden file or folder is one that has the “Hidden” attribute checked. This is done by right clicking on the item and going to properties, checking “Hidden” under the attributes section on the general tab, and pressing OK. Below is a before and after of two files on my desktop, notice that the hidden file is translucent.

before:

show-hidden-disabled

after:

show-hidden-enabled

To show file extensions, uncheck the “Hide extensions for known file types” checkbox; the result is shown below.
show-file-extensions

Another fun one is to enable the use of checkboxes for selecting multiple items. To enable this, check the box next to “Use check boxes to select items”. Notice the difference between a checked item and an unchecked one.

before:

without-checkboxes

after:

with-checkboxes

The next item is one that should be used with caution, as it will allow you to “play” with protected operating system files. I only advise enabling this option when you need to actually use those files; otherwise, it is safer to leave this option alone. If you go to your C drive, you will see something similar to the below image.

c-drive-hidden-system

If you uncheck the box next to “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” you will now see something like the following image.

show-protected-operating-system-files

There are more options that you might find useful, but these are all I will cover. Have fun poking around 😛

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