Vista selecting wrong folder view

One of the most annoying “features” of Microsoft Vista is the attempt they made at detecting what type of content a folder has and selecting an appropriate view. There is nothing wrong with the idea itself and the detection usually works. Like most attempts at making the computer smarter than the user though, there is no easy way to correct a view once Vista decides it is full of images because you saved a few pictures along with the other content. What makes this infuriating are two sub-features.

The first is that each detected content type changes the headers available by default. This means “last modified” (a key field to me) goes away to be replaced by an empty “picture taken on” date. Why we couldn’t have both baffles me, but the worst part is the second “sub-feature”: there is no easy way to select another view and if you go to the trouble to modify a view anyway Vista will most likely just decide you are wrong and change it back.

Fortunately there is a fix. A violent fix in that Vista will never again second guess you, but I’m pretty happy with that personally. You can find a full discussion of it at the forum, but here are the steps if you just want the result.

In RegEdit pull up the key “HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\” and delete “Bags”. This will clear *all* special formatting, so make sure this is what you really want… there is no going back here. Second, after skipping or executing the first step, add the keys “Bags”, “AllFolders” and finally “Shell” nested within the key mentioned earlier, giving the path “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\LocalSettings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\AllFolders\Shell”. Finally add a “String Value” named “FolderType” and set the value to “NotSpecified”.

Close all of your explorer windows and open them back up: you will see a nice clean interface ready for you to customize… and when you make changes Vista won’t decide you are wrong.