Confessions of a Windows Enthusiast

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

HOW-TO: Reset Windows Explorer's View Settings

Consider this scenario. You have customized your "Documents" folder the way you like it with icon sizes and grouping settings. However, after you have applied these customizations and you re-open the "Documents" folder, you may see that the customizations are improperly applied, have been lost, or the folder has defaulted to a different view (for instance, the Pictures view, where all files are now displayed as large icons and thumbnails). Also, if you open the root directory of a hard drive, you may notice that columns such as "Date Taken" and "Rating" are displayed for example, when they should not be displayed. You have tried navigating to the Control Panel and opening Folder Options and clicking "Reset Folders", however this does not resolve the issue.

Another scenario to consider: You have selected the "Extra Large Icons" option for a folder full of pictures. However, when you browse to that folder at a later date, you may notice that the pictures are now displayed in "Detail" view, and you must manually change the folder view to your desired settings.

There are three methods in which this task can be completed: Automatic (which is the easiest), semi-manual, or manual.

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: These involve 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.

The automatic method

  • Download the command script that I have created and extract the file to your Desktop. Once you have extracted the file, simply double click on "resetviews.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.

The semi-manual method

  • Click on Start, and in the Start Search field copy and paste the following command that is in bold text: REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags" /f
  • Press the Enter key and the command will be executed
  • Click on Start, press the arrow next to the power buttons, and select Log Off from the menu that appears.
  • Log back in.

The 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.
  • 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.

Hope these instructions prove to be helpful, if you know anyone who has been affected by this please feel free to pass them a link to this article.

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