Confessions of a Windows Enthusiast

Where I rant about Microsoft products, computers and technology, and much more.

HOW-TO: Disable Automatic Folder Type Discovery

By default, Windows Explorer in Windows Vista will try to automatically detect the contents of a folder and display the correct detail settings, however in some situations you may wish to disable this behavior and customize the view settings manually as desired.

This article applies to:

  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, 32-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, 32-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business, 32-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, 32-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise, 32-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, 64-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, 64-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business, 64-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, 64-bit
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise, 64-bit

NOTE: This involves editing the registry. It is always recommended to create a back-up of the registry before making any modifications. Before performing any of the actions below, please save your work and close any Windows Explorer windows, as you will need to log off for these changes to properly take effect.

Automatic method

  • Download the command script that I have created and extract the files to your Desktop. Once you have extracted the files, simply double click on “disable_automatic_foldertype_discovery.cmd” and read the precautions in the command prompt window that appears.

    This file has been scanned for viruses and does not perform any malicious tasks, it simply automates the task required to reset the Windows Explorer view settings and then proceed to disable the automatic folder content discovery.

Manual method

  • Click on Start, and in the Start Search field type “REGEDIT”, and then press Enter.
  • If User Account Control prompts you, provide consent by clicking on Continue or entering a password.
  • In the left hand pane, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell
  • Right click on the “Bags” sub-key and click on Delete. When asked to confirm the operation click on Yes.
  • Right click on the "Shell" sub-key and from the menu that appears click on New, and then click on Key.
  • Give the new key a name of "Bags" (without the quotes).
  • Right click on the "Bags" sub-key and from the menu that appears click on New, and then click on Key.
  • Give the new key a name of "AllFolders" (without the quotes).
  • Right click on the "AllFolders" sub-key and from the menu that appears click on New, and then click on Key.
  • Give the new key a name of "Shell" (without the quotes).
  • Select the "Shell" key that you just creaited.
  • In the right hand pane of the Registry Editor, right click on an empty area and from the menu click on New, and then click on String Value.
  • Give the new REG_SZ (String Value) a name of "FolderType" (without the quotes).
  • Double click on the FolderType String Value and give it a value of "NotSpecified" (without the quotes).
  • Close the Registry Editor.
  • Click on Start, press the arrow next to the power buttons, and select Log Off from the menu that appears.
  • Log back in and customize your Windows Explorer folder view settings as desired.

If you would like to reset Windows Explorer back to the way it should act by default:

  • Click on the Start button, and in the Start Search field paste the following bold text command: REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\AllFolders" /f
  • Press the Enter key to execute the command.

Folder content auto discovery will be enabled on any folders that have not been previously opened. However, if you would like to reset the view settings on all folders so that auto-sensing is automatically enabled, simply download the "Reset Windows Explorer View Settings" command script, extract the .cmd file from the Compressed Folder (ZIP file) and execute the command script, paying attention to the on-screen information.

Hope this helps!



  • Insomniac said:

    Wow, thanks so much for this!

    I've had a crappy bug that stops the game explorer from displaying the preview pane.

    This has finally fixed it! :)

    I tell you what though,

    These stupid folder view bugs shouldnt be in Vista at all!

    God, will have have to totally re-write explorer to finally correct it?

    June 4, 2007 12:01 PM
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  • aldrine said:

    I have encountering same problem with Windows XP SP3, I am trying to use this guide on it but it doesn't work. Is there anyway I can disable automatic folder type discovery on Windows XP SP3, if not what process can I use?

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