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Windows Explorer sort order can be set by clicking on the column headers. It works the same in application's Open and Save dialog boxes.
I'm using Windows XP with Service Pack 3. For quite some time now, when I open up a folder with my computer, 70% of the time, the files and folders are listed reverse alphabetic order i.e. "loose" files arranged from Z to A and then the numbers. Similarly with the folders. However if I open a folder with Word or Excel, the order is in the usual A to Z order. What's going on and how can I stop the reverse order from occurring?
In this excerpt from Answercast #80, I look at ways to sort files in Windows Explorer and application dialog boxes.
So, it's important to realize that when you open a folder with your computer, you're opening it up in "Windows Explorer."
When you open something in a program (like Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel) that is not Windows Explorer, that is a file-open "dialog box" that is part of the application.
The controls, while they look similar, are actually completely different. They are completely separate with a completely separate set of behavior.
However, as it turns out, in this one respect, they are actually very similar.
If you take a look at the files in Details view (in other words, in Windows Explorer if you switch to View menu and then click on Details), you'll get your list of files.
They may not be in alphabetical order. In fact, they may even be in some random order - and each of the column headings can be clicked.
Above the file name is a column heading that probably says something like File name. Click on that. That tells Windows Explorer to sort by that column. If it sorts in the wrong direction, click on it again. It will reverse the sort.
So, if the files are showing up sorted Z to A, click on the File name heading at the top of the list of file names - and it will resort in A to Z order.
Now the interesting thing here, of course, is that you can also sort by file size, by date, or by any of the other columns that are visible in Windows Explorer. Most of us think of doing it with the file name - because that's what we're used to looking for. We're looking for the file names. But there are times when it's handy to see which file is the largest or the smallest or the most recent.
That's one quick way to do it. If you're looking in a view that is other than the Details view, click over to the Details view, change the sort order and then click back to whatever view you were interested in and the sort order should be preserved.
The reason I say this is because Windows (or Excel and Word) File Open or
Save dialog boxes also have column headers. Those column headers are also
clickable and do the exact same kind of sorting that you can do with Windows
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
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