How to disable Group By in Windows 7

Windows Explorer on Windows 7 tries to be intelligent and offers to group the contents of a directory according to certain parameters. A lot of times when it cannot do this, it lumps them in a group named Unspecified. I find this grouping affair very irritating, especially when selecting files using the keyboard.

To turn off Group By completely:

  1. Open any directory in Windows Explorer.
  2. Right-click and choose Group by > (None)
  3. Press the Alt key, so that the Explorer menu bar appears and choose Tools β†’ Folder Options.
  4. Go to the View tab and click Apply to Folders. This will apply the Group By setting to all folders.
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33 thoughts on “How to disable Group By in Windows 7

  1. This didn’t work for me. On the far left of Windows explorer, I hit Organize > Properties
    Then Customize Tab, then selected “Optimize this folder for: Documents”. Bang fixed.

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  2. What worked for me in Windows 7 – Right mouse the USB drive – select properties – select customise tab – optimise this folder for documents – save

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  3. Hi,
    Just to give a friendly TIP instead of screaming it out and fight over it, here it is:
    Because I just had this problem on an USB stick, left click on the “Removable Disk” in your Windows Explorer so that it shows the contents, press the ALT key to pop up the menu; go to “View” –> “Group by” and select None… Worked on everyhting for me..
    Regards,
    Koen

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    1. Does NOT work!!! As soon as you select another drive and come back to the optical/USB one you again have the grouping active!

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  4. you right click on the background (outside of any files/folders)
    took me a few minutes to figure that out

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  5. Thanks for this. now if someone could design a program that would get rid of all the Win 7 crap and get back to the XP user interface which was usable. Especially the task scheduler, Start menu, Control panel menu (put add/delete programs back in). All the other nonsense that turns a single click into a hundred screens and clicks.

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    1. Ken: Have you tried pressing Win key and typing in the name of the program you want to invoke? I find this easier than anything before.

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  6. OMG IM SOOOO RETARDED!!! i followed the advice given above but when it came to selecting none i selected name instead and couldnt understand the new stupid grouping going on LOL

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  7. Another solution is to disable windows cd/dvd writing (as you probably would use 3rd party soft anyway for this). gpedit.msc User Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Explorer/Remove CD burning features=enabled

    The tip was that the only folder that doesn’t remember your grouping settings was CD/DVD drive, which has specific feature – burning. It forces default view&grouping and ignores your previous settings. I suppose MS is forcing special grouping for nooby users who don’t see which files are already written and which aren’t and unable to find how to change grouping.
    Only one thing left then – find how to disable CD/DVD writing, which is 1 click away from google.

    BTW I don’t think applying documents template to CD/DVD is not an ideal solution, because you would probably want documents and DVD’s have different grouping&view mode.

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  8. I am just a simple elderly mortal trying to sort my “unspecified” files -which are saved emails mostly- according to the date received. I could do it on Vista which my technician said was a terrible program and he changed it for windows 7. Now my saved emails are all over the place. Can anyone tell me in a few simple words what I can do?

    Also why aren’t mere mortals like myself told that if you save an email to a documents folder and then delete the email itself you cant open the saved version. ? Seems crazy to me… Whats the use of saving them then?. . Because of my change over to window 7 I have now lost hundreds of documents that were sent to me by email.

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    1. Dear Denise, try this: open the directory containing your downloaded files. Move the mouse cursor to any empty space in the directory, right-click and choose Sort By > Date Modified.

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  9. This annoys me to no extend and I tried doing this, but when I can’t select sort by none, as this option is not available for me… what now? I also clicked on more to add the none option, but it’s not on the full list either… I am getting so frustrated by this, please help 😦

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  10. It will not “work” for you in the following case:
    1. You choose an optical drive in Windows Explorer
    2. It shows the “Files Currently on the Disk ()” line… this is what I want to permanently remove
    3. You select (none) from the Group By drop down
    4. The “Files Currently on the Disk ()” line disappears, BUT…
    5. You click on another drive
    6. You go back to the original optical drive
    7. It shows the “Files Currently on the Disk ()” again… it was NOT removed permenently

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  11. Omfg thank you sooo much I’ve been struggling with this for about a year, until I finally thought to search for answer xD

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