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How to disable auto arrange and full row select in Explorer and get narrow spacing in file pane

In versions of Windows after XP, there have been some changes made to Explorer which are quite different from the behavior in XP. One of them is full row selection in Details view. The other change is that items in the right pane are spaded wider apart vertically from one another than there were in Windows XP. Let us see how to revert both changes if you need them to.

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Here is a how Explorer looks with full row selection and wider spacing in Details view:Full row selection and wider spacingTo turn off full row selection and use a narrower spacing, we need to force Explorer to use the older ListView control instead of the newer ItemsView which it uses. To do this:

  1. Open Control Panel (see how) and then Folder Options.
  2. Go to the View tab of Folder Options and click on Reset Folders. Click Yes to confirm.
    Folder Options
  3. Download and install Folder Options X from this page. Run the installer FolderOptionXSetup.exe from the ZIP file.
  4. Start Folder Options X. Check the option "Disable full row select". This also automatically turns on icon reordering as the two options are linked together.
    Folder Options X
  5. Click OK. Now reopen the folder and switch to Details view. Full row selection will be turned off as shown in the screenshot below:
    Full row selection off and narrower spacing
  6. Notice how the items are spaced closer together so more items fit in the same sized window than earlier.
  7. If you still don't get full row selection off, don't worry. Open Registry Editor (see how).
  8. Go to the following Registry key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

    Tip: You can access any desired Registry key with one click.

  9. Right click in the right side pane and create a new DWORD value called FullRowSelect. Keep its value to 0. If the value FullRowSelect already exists and its value is 1, change it to 0.
  10. Now reopen the folder. It should have full row selection off and narrower spacing too.

That's it. Folder Options X can do other useful tweaks too such as enabling column headers in all views of Explorer, not just the Details view.

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Author: Gaurav Kale

Gaurav is a software enthusiast from India and Classic Shell tester & UX consultant. He started with Windows 95 and is good at software usability testing. He firmly believes that user experience is just as important as software code quality and architecture for software to be successful.

4 thoughts on “How to disable auto arrange and full row select in Explorer and get narrow spacing in file pane”

  1. Thanks for this. Many things were more logical in XP and it’s nice to be able to revert sometimes but I do have a few questions. After 18 years of building computers, I am seeing the expression “icon reordering” for the first time and Google shows no definition that I could find. What is icon reordering? Also, I’d love to have just the closer spacing and keep full row selection. Is that possible?

    1. Icon reordering is the ability to rearrange icons in a folder in icon-based views (Medium, Large, Extra large) by drag and drop. When Auto Arrange is on, the order of icons can be changed and persists even after you close the folder.

  2. Great product! the “feature” where the files jump to the left side of the window was driving me crazy, one click to select and make the whole list jump, then double click, it was very annoying. and the auto arrange is gone! I had to keep making sub folders within folders and other subfolders to avoid images mixing. So nice to be rid of those annoying “features!”

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