Disable auto arrange in folders in Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7

Previous versions of Windows such as XP and Vista came with the ability to freely arrange icons inside a folder. You were able to drag and drop icons inside a folder anywhere you wanted to without the icons snapping to a grid and getting auto-arranged. However, with Windows 7, Microsoft changed this Explorer behavior. Disabling Auto Arrange and Align to Grid options is no longer possible in Windows Explorer. In this article, we will see how to revive this feature and make it available in modern versions of Windows, including Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7.


To disable auto-arrange, you need to do the following steps:

  1. Reset all folders view as described HERE.
  2. Download the disable-auto-arrange.zip file, unzip and extract the two *.REG files to any location. e.g. on your Desktop.
  3. Open This PC (Windows 10 and Windows 8)/Computer (Windows 7) and close it.
  4. Restart the Explorer shell.

This will disable auto-arrange and restore the ability to arrange icons freely inside a folder in Explorer.
To check it out, do the following:

    1. Open any folder and switch it to Large icons view (see HERE and HERE).
    2. Right click the empty white space in the folder, e.g. in This PC and note the new context menu item inside the "Sort By" menu. Auto Arrange must be unchecked there.Windows 10 auto arrange explorer
    3. Drag the icons anywhere you want.auto arrange disabled

You are done.To undo this tweak, double click the included Undo.reg file.
That's it.

Note that this Registry tweak only disables auto arrange for the following icon views: large icons, medium icons, small icons and extra large icons. List view, Details view, Tiles view and Content view are not affected. Also, this does not affect auto sorting/auto refresh which continues to happen in Explorer.

23 thoughts on “Disable auto arrange in folders in Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7

  1. MultiMan

    aww maaan, and there I was hoping that Windows 10 will bring back my favorite XP function to move icons freely and arange them the way I want them to have without this reg editing. Anyway thank you for the tutorial :))

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      You are welcome

      Reply
  2. MDJ

    I‘m missing auto-arrange function in Start menu in Windows 10 :(.

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      The Start menu in Win10 lacks may other options too

      Reply
      1. Steven Levesque

        I hate the Win 10 start menu but if it can help anyone like it did to me, try out classicshell (I’m not affiliated with them, and there’s no catch, it’s free & safe)

        As for auto-arrange, I’ll retry your workaround although last time I think that’s what had broken (only visually, and quickly reversible) my “root” view of drives without the “space left” anymore.

        Reply
        1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

          Yep, classic shell is just great!
          I am also not affiliated with them, but I am a classic shell user

          Reply
  3. Sean Pablo Torres

    Thanks this helped me retain my sanity…

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Great

      Reply
  4. John

    Hi,
    Thank you for posting this hack. It works well in terms of being able to auto arrange icons.
    However, it somehow affected the ability to set columns sizes in detail view: Once you’ve set one column’s size, you cannot control other columns’ sizes.
    Thank you all the same.

    Reply
  5. John

    Me again.
    1- OS is Win 7 Ultimate.
    2- If I resize a folder in Explorer, all other folders I open take the same size, regardless of their previous setting.

    Reply
  6. Dee

    Thank you so much for this. I have absolutely loathed Microsoft after they started to impose these restrictions on the user’s ability to maximise potential. Loved XP but hated Windows after that, because of this very reason. Thank you for the hack – I’m going to try it and if it works, it will certainly reduce a lot of headaches. However, I can’t understand why, with Windows 10, Microsoft haven’t bothered to listen and once AGAIN prevented users from sorting as they wish. Saving for an Apple Mac…. we can sort how we wish and don’t need hacks for that since they seem to understand what the user wants.

    Reply
  7. Lisa

    Does not work in Win10 1703 or did I miss anything?? The only effect I found is that I have to re-arrange 200 desktop icons manually after this procedure (THX). Folder icons are still being arranged automatically. WHY THE H… Microsoft prevents free icon arrange in this ivory tower, patronizing manner. Why?

    Reply
  8. Ana

    i discover that this is not working anymore after Windows 10 Creators Update version 1703. :(
    i hope someone fix it bc this is a needed thing. the people behind of windows are idiots to until now continue without an option to disable the auto arrange when zillions of people said already thousands of times that are annoyed by it.

    Reply
  9. no working

    Followed the instructions word for word and still
    does no work with Windows 10 Creators update . Disabling auto arrange and auto align is simply not possible with the latest Win 10 updates . Microsoft sucks .

    Reply
  10. Dennis

    Does Winaero Tweaker give me the ability to disable auto arrange in folders in Windows 19 fall creators update?
    If not, could you PLEASE see about coming up with a fix?

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      It does not come with such a feature. I will add it.

      Reply
  11. Dennis

    Sorry about that! I mean Windows 10

    Reply
  12. Dennis

    Any idea when the “disable auto arrange” feature will be available?

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      With a couple releases

      Reply
  13. Dennis

    Is there some email list or something else that I can get on that will notify me when new releases are available?

    Reply
  14. Dennis

    Thanks! I check the blog every week or so.

    Reply
  15. Charles Lasner

    I am using Windows 7, and I cannot get this to work, although I can use some of the other tweaks from others.

    Also, I believe:

    1) You never specify actually using the registry patch, just the undo file to eliminate the probelemt.

    2) From what I bather, the file named undo.reg is the operative file, and the intended one is actually that which “undoes” the change.

    The universal conversion is your named patch does something and “undo.reg” is what un-does what the other one does. Thus they are named contrary to their function. Th English is a bit confusing because the PURPOSE is the prevention of something, but I think all of your documentation leads me to this conclusion.

    I suspect you have made some changes to your website and at some point unintended changes crept in.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    cjl

    Reply

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