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General discussion

files and folders alphabetically

Nov 25, 2010 1:13PM PST

I was going to restore my netbook OS back to XP from Windows 7 (The fancy looks aren't worth the trouble) and I found I had apparently deleted my XP restore file. So I decided to stick with Windows 7 for awhile.

One irritating feature was that my files and folders within a folder were not in alphabetical order.

It took me 30 min of messing around to finally alphabetize one folder and apply that to all folders.

That is ridiculous!

Discussion is locked

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Sort files
Nov 25, 2010 1:23PM PST

Why ridiculous? Right clicking in the folder was always the way to access the sort command. These type functions are all the same in XP and Win 7.

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Nov 25, 2010 10:11PM PST

Or, if you change the view to detail, you can click on the name column for alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order.

The only ridiculous thing here seems to be that someone can use a computer this long and not know this. Or that they didn't think to take 10 seconds to do a search with a search engine to find hundreds of different pages describing various methods. Instead blaming Windows because it can't read their mind (and if it could, they'd be complaining about privacy issues) to figure out exactly what they want.

One of the things I love about my job... It's IT related, but I don't have to listen to people lie to me all day about how they didn't touch anything, the computer just spontaneously changed a bunch of settings when they got up to use the restroom... Or the obvious liquid damage was there when they got the system, even though it's still wet/sticky, and you can tell what it was they were drinking from the smell. And the people who don't seem to understand that scratching off a liquid spill indicator sticker is really just as d@mning as a tripped LSI. And people wonder why IT types are always so cranky when we deal with that kind of thing day in and day out.

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Nov 25, 2010 11:42PM PST


Unfortunately, you are right on! Although Windows can seem complicated, a little legwork will solve most issues. You would think you wouldn't need to tell people not to spill on the machine.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to answer someone whose DC cable was damaged or the DC socket was busted who claims they never treated them roughly!

The industry needs two things. First is Windows for Dummies; not a book, but an OS with limited options and a real simple directory. Second is a laptop with no moving parts, an unbreakable screen, RF charging and a fat rubber carrying case.

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Google search
Nov 26, 2010 12:18AM PST

Actually, I always thought I was pretty good at doing key word searches using Google. Searching "Windows 7 folders alphabetically" gave me no information that was least in the first page of results.

Right clicking in the folder blank space works but I don't ever recall using that to bring up the "Group By" option. Maybe my XP and Vista files have been arranged alphabetically for so long I had forgotten how it was done...or maybe they started out that way. Why wouldn't "Group by" be in the "Organize" menu?

I'll bet that most Windows 7 users have no idea how to do this and just accept the file arrangement as it comes with a new computer. This all started when I was trying to find the System folder in C:Windows to move fonts required by the Oxford English Dictionary to the Fonts folder in Control Panel. I have the OED on a Daemon Tools virtual disk.

I am sorry I ruffled any Windows 7 user feathers. I still don't think it is a major improvement over XP. It is just more complicated and looks more like an Apple OS.

I was mainly irritated that I had deleted my Acronis image of my latest XP backup from my external HD drive.

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Just a note.
Nov 26, 2010 4:46AM PST

Your, "I was trying to find the System folder in C:Windows to move fonts required by the Oxford English Dictionary to the Fonts folder in Control Panel."

Not seen that before. I was always under the impression that 'moving' system files and folders was something never to be attempted.

And also, the Control Panel Fonts folder applet just displays the Windows\Fonts contents anyway.


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Nov 26, 2010 8:12AM PST

When you install old versions of OED, like I have, it puts the fonts in the System folder. To run the program from a virtual disk as I do, they have to be moved to the Fonts folder in the Control Panel. It is all here, someplace, if you are interested:

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Thanks for telling (old software.)
Nov 26, 2010 8:28AM PST

I was guessing that was it.

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It's just different
Nov 26, 2010 7:48AM PST

It's just different, and so the failure here is that you have learned how to sort files in Windows XP, not how to sort files in pretty much any OS. So when presented with something that isn't exactly like Windows XP, you're at a loss.

You've specialized when you should have generalized is another way of putting it. Instead of learning Microsoft Word, you should focus on learning word processors, for example. About 95% of all functions are the same across any word processor you come across, it's just sometimes they're called something different or in a different location. So MS Word may have a toolbar option for making say drop caps, and OpenOffice Writer doesn't. If I think about what it is I'm trying to do, it's a manipulation of the font, so if I start looking at all font related options in OpenOffice Writer, odds are good I'm eventually going to find what I want. I don't just give up the second I don't see a toolbar button that looks exactly the same as MS Word's.

And of course, ever since Windows95, when Microsoft suddenly discovered that there were TWO buttons on most mice, a good rule of thumb to live by is: When it doubt, right click.

If it's one thing you can't count on in life, it's that things change. For better or worse, they change, and you either adapt to those changes or you get left behind. Life is actually quite a bit easier if you're flexible enough to roll with the changes as they come along. You can fight them, but you'll always loose in the end. It's like trying to stop a river with only your body. You might succeed for a little while, but ultimately the water will find a way around you.

Also, for the record, I'm typing this on an iMac, and I'm employed as an ACMT (Apple Certified Macintosh Technician). I also have another system running Win7 that was my desktop before this, and is now my disaster recovery slash HTPC system. I've also run Linux off and on since about 1995, including probably a 1-2 year stint of it being my primary desktop OS back around 1999-2000. I use whatever suits my needs at the time. I'm not beholden to any particular OS, I just find certain comments to be intellectually lazy and of absolutely no constructive use.

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"It's just different" is quite a dissertation
Nov 26, 2010 8:25AM PST

I started on the IBM 940, I think it was, mainframe using Fortran IV for programing electromagnetic engineering problems after spending 4 years as a USN Aviation Electronics Technician and getting an MSEE. I forget the first word processor I used but it was in a module plugged into an IBM PC. I also used a Boeing Analog computer in college.

I have no trouble keeping up with reasonable advancement in computer operating systems. Also, I think a mouse just needs one button.

And, I still think Windows 7 is just flashy and complicated for home computer users.

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Win 7
Nov 26, 2010 9:39AM PST

I agree that Win 7 is perhaps too flashy, but it easier to use than older versions because it rarely blue screens or locks up, and is fairly intuitive. The best OS for stability use was Windows NT; I could leave mine on at work all the time, and the only time it needed to be rebooted was when IT needed to do software updates. However, when doing more than the simplest operations it was not intuitive. Most people only need to understand the basic file handling operations in Win 7, and can skip all the advanced stuff; I rarely use any of the fancy display options except for the Show Desktop icon. Stability is the big bonus for Win 7. Both XP and Vista were terrible.

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Final comment
Nov 26, 2010 11:09AM PST

I admit I don't read things carefully. Browsing on Google I discovered my computer has a recovery partition on the hard drive and all I had to do was press F9 during startup to get back to the factory XP settings. Of course, it is in the manual too!

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I tend to find
Nov 26, 2010 10:44PM PST

I tend to find that people who started out in the early days of computers tend to be the least flexible when it comes to newer systems. It seems almost human nature, that we become more and more set in our ways as we get older.

It's pretty telling that you say you have no problem keeping up with "reasonable" advancements in computing. Who defines what is and isn't reasonable? You? Why are you a better judge of this than say Steve Wozniac? He hasn't really done much of anything since the Apple ][ days, but he was one of the founding fathers of what we call the PC. You ask me, that puts him far closer to the front of the line than you on deciding what is a "reasonable" advancement. But then, we could also ask why it is my opinion counts for anything.

Now, if you can realize and admit that maybe you've gotten a bit set in your ways, then you can do something about it if you're so inclined. It's sort of like addicts. Until they admit there's a problem, you can't help them. Feel free to look into it yourself, but neurological research all points to the fact that the more we engage our brains throughout life, the less likely we are to suffer from some kind of dementia later in life. Sudoku puzzles may not make you any smarter like some claim, but they will help keep the mental fog from rolling in. Sometimes, change simply for the sake of change, is a good thing. It forces the brain to create new neural connections, and the more neural connections you have, the more potential pathways the mind has for finding information you may want.

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Flexible Old Timers
Nov 27, 2010 1:57AM PST


I don't know if I agree with you on the flexibility issue. I have been into computers since the mid '50s, and I am real flexible (except for my arthritic joints!). I built my first computer (mechanical - the Geniac) in 1954, and have owned digital computers since 1977. I cut my teeth on a Univac with punch cards. I am not an IT guy.

I think the problem is generally age, aptitude and and/or IQ. Lots of users are not really knowledgeable and don't really care what OS is being used or what it does. However, I see lots of people on the Dell site who can't wait to buy a new machine and immediately wipe the hard drive and install XP, all because of a totally incorrect idea that XP is superior to all other OSs. These are the same people that need to do a fresh install of XP every 3 months to clean out all the junk they think is hurting performance.

Age may be the real issue. I belong to a computer club in a Florida retirement community with a membership of over 1000. A pole take last week showed about 90% were still using XP.

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Final, final, comment
Nov 27, 2010 6:02AM PST

I am not set in my ways. I am still changing grandchildren's diapers.

I am at the local library now on my netbook newly reloaded with XP. It may be my imagination but it runs faster than it did with Windows 7. All I lost was ReadyBoost.

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windows 7 buggy sort order
Jun 16, 2013 5:48AM PDT

NO ITS NOT RIDICULOUS, if you think you can resolve this then show us how, otherwise keep your keyboard warrior comments to yourself, WINDOWS 7 CAN NOT ALPHABETICALLY SORT FILES OUT IN THEIR FOLDERS !!!!

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Please start a new discussion.
Jun 16, 2013 5:56AM PDT

There are ways to change the sort order in Explorer and a command window. You lashed out and are writing about Windows 7 but not revealing much about the app you need the sort on.

Locking this old discussion so you can start a new one.

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Jun 16, 2013 6:01AM PDT

1. Stop shouting.
2. Take a rage dump.


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Sorting alphabetically
Mar 3, 2011 6:45PM PST

Does anyone know of a way to sort files and folders alphabetically in windows 7, as they can be sorted on a Mac - MIXED, regardless of type (file or folder)

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Re: sorting alfabetically
Mar 3, 2011 6:53PM PST

The command prompt does. The GUI doesn't. So the answer is "yes, I know a way, use the command prompt". But it might be that means "no" for you, in the context of your (unspecified) purpose.


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Has MS fixed this problem yet?
May 9, 2012 11:50PM PDT

I am about to move from XP to Win7 and I am worried that one of the biggest frustrations of XP has not been eliminated:

In Windows Explorer in XP, when you View > Arrange icons by > Name, you are not seeing the "icons" arranged by name. You are seeing them arranged by name *and* by file type (at least, whether folder or document). The folders are first, then the documents, or the other way around. I have not found any way to turn off arrangement by folder/document.

All I want is to put the contents of a folder in alphabetical order, to honestly arrange the icons by name, just like the command claims to do.

Judging from the answer above (the command prompt!?) this lack of basic functionality persists in Windows 7.

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Sort of
May 10, 2012 12:43AM PDT

Sort of... After a little playing around with this, you can say that you want to view things by name, which then flattens the entire directory tree from that point forward.

So if you have MainDirectory and then SubDir1, SubDir2, and SubDir3 it will show you the files in MainDirectory and all three SubDir's sorted alphabetically, but it won't show you the directory names.

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Sorry but I don't see this issue.
May 10, 2012 1:00AM PDT

Explorer sorts by name just fine here. I am left to wonder if the VIEW in use differs. I'm using the View Details.

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Good to hear it
May 10, 2012 6:52AM PDT

I'm using View Details as well, but in XP.

I am glad to hear it seems to be fixed in Windows 7.

Just to confirm, we're talking about true alpha order here, right? Irrespective of whether the items inside the folder are Word documents, pdfs, or folders? Thanks -

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"true alpha" = subject to debate?
May 10, 2012 7:29AM PDT

There has been some debate on sorting over the years. Windows file sorting has been inconsistent so I wonder how we could call it true alpha anymore?

Here's one of many articles about it.

So what is your definition of the true sort order?

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A, then B...
May 10, 2012 7:15PM PDT

Very impressive. It's good to know someone's thinking about this...

I propose that in Details view, "Arrange by name" should sort all visible contents of the folder alphabetically (A first, then B, all the way to Z). That's all I mean by "true alpha."

I'm not particular on how numbers are sorted, as long as it's consistent. I'm just fed up with selecting "Arrange by name" and seeing XP alphabetize the documents separately from the folders.

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Thanks. Then no.
May 11, 2012 1:25AM PDT
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May 11, 2012 6:39AM PDT

I've been using "no-sort" windows in another OS since 1991, and it wouldn't occur to me to design an interface that did not use common-sense, intuitive, alphabetical order as the default.

I suppose some people might want to organize their windows by file type (but it's not really by file type, it's just by folder/non-folder), and that option should be available for them. But I doubt most people would want that option if file type ordering is available, and I cannot see any reason to make it the default.

I suppose this is what we should expect from the people who put "shut down" under the "start" menu and "restart" under the "shut down" menu item...

I will look into an Explorer replacement. Any recommendations?

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Off the top of my head?
May 11, 2012 7:17AM PDT

Midnight Commander, Gyula's Navigator, and google this "Explorer Alternatives."

Remember Windows is made for the millions of folk and Microsoft got complaints when folk couldn't find files so they reduced the options.

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May 12, 2012 3:13AM PDT

I think you're pulling my leg with the recommendations! Those programs look like Norton Commander clones.... Bit now that we're in the year 1993, I'm looking for a modern program that is fully integrated into the Windows GUI (as Windows Explorer is) and can alphabetize the contents of a window alphabetically.

I would think that the millions of folk would demand alphabetical order before they would ask for group-into-folders-and-docs-and-then-alphabetize-each-group-separately. Especially when that latter option is misleadingly labeled "Arrange by name." And is made redundant by the "Arrange by file type" option. I know, I know, Windows will never be known for consistency or intuitive use... but this function has been the state of the art in graphical interfaces for 20 years or more. It is so elementary that it shouldn't even be a topic for discussion. That's why I'm certain MS has a hidden setting somewhere in XP that we just haven't found yet.

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What does that
May 12, 2012 4:44AM PDT

What does that have to do with anything? Why does the age of a program matter? I still say that in a lot of ways Windows' "ease of use" has gone down since Windows 3.1. In a lot of ways the old Program Manager concept was a lot more intuitive. What does it being 15+ years old now have to do with anything? The whole cloud concept that everyone is all excited about is just a new take on the idea of dumb terminals from like the 60s and 70s. So should we just get rid of all those sites/services because someone else already came up with the basic idea 40-50 years ago? Heck, this forum we're using to communicate is really just an extension of newsgroups, which in turn are really based on email, and is about as old as the Internet which is another 40-50 years, so I guess sites like this one should go away. Web pages are just a new take on things like newspapers and magazines which are easily hundreds of years old, going back to at least the invention of a movable type printing press.

And clearly you need to reconsider your option, because if you were part of a majority of people who actually cared about this particular feature, Microsoft would have implemented it ages ago. I'm not saying you've done anything wrong, we all tend to think a little too highly of ourselves. It's a very natural thing for people to extrapolate the experiences of others based on their own in the absence of other information, but it doesn't stop it from being a logical fallacy.

I also kind of think that Google's method has largely taken root with people. That method being: Search, don't sort. It's generally faster and easier to just search for the file you want rather than try and arrange everything so it is in a predictable place. Takes a little getting used to for those of us who were socialized before the days of Google, but it can be done. Admittedly Microsoft still has a little ways to go on this to make the Windows search function as slick as Spotlight on Mac OS X, but then again the Windows search indexer doesn't need to reindex the entire system every time a person's computer shuts off unexpectedly, or some other similar error occurs. So I'd give MS higher marks for the backend implementation, which is the harder part anyway.