Tweak Windows Folders With Hassle-Free PC

Sometimes we get so accustomed to doing things a certain way that we don't bother checking to see if there's a better way. Case in point: I recently blogged about making Windows a single-click operating system (read "Eliminate Double-Clicking from Windows Forever"). I've been a double-clicker for as long as I can remember, but I'm already preferring the single-click lifestyle. Today, let's talk folders.

Make Folders Open in New Windows

By default, Windows opens each folder in the same window as the one that preceded it. (Is there a technical term for that? I'm drawing a blank.) But is that the smartest way to go? After all, if you want to copy or move files between folders, it helps to have two separate windows open.

And when you think about it, much of the Web works this way: On many sites, clicking a link opens a new window or tab. Indeed, I often Ctrl-click links specifically so they'll appear in separate tabs.

To bring this capability to Windows, do this:

  1. Click Start, type Folder Options, and then press Enter. (XP users can find Folder Options in the Control Panel.)
  2. In the General tab, find the Browse folder section, then select Open each folder in its own window.
  3. Click OK.

Now, when you click (or double-click, if you're still rolling that way) a folder, it'll automatically open in a new window. Click a folder inside that window and presto, another new window.

Can't get it to work? Vista has a weird quirk: If the navigation pane is enabled for any given window, folders won't open in new windows. Believe it or not, this makes sense. The navigation pane by design lessens the need for separate windows; you can drag and drop from the main pane to a folder in the navigation pane.

It's still kind of annoying, though. The only manual override for this is to right-click a folder and choose Open. That'll give you a new window regardless of your Folder Settings selection.

Automatically Restore Open Folders After a Reboot

Windows doesn't have a very good memory. I mean, when I reboot my system, it doesn't even remember the folders I had open! It's like they were never even there! Now I've got to go manually open each one again, grumble, grumble...

Or not. There's actually a very simple Windows tweak that keeps open folders open, even after a reboot. It's like giving Windows the gift of memory. Here's how to enable the setting:

  1. Click Start, type Folder Options, and then press Enter. (XP users can find Folder Options in the Control Panel.)
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Scroll down until you find Restore previous folder windows at logon, then click the check box to enable it.
  4. Click OK.

Pretty simple, right? But if you frequently work with folders open and wish you didn't have to manually re-open them every time you start Windows, this simple system tweak should prove incredibly handy.

Apply the Same View Settings to All Your Folders

One of the things I both like and dislike about Vista is that it remembers your view settings for each individual folder. You might have a photo folder with the navigation pane enabled and extra-large icons, a document folder with the preview pane and Details view, and so on; Vista remembers these settings from one session to the next.

Of course, some users would undoubtedly prefer to have the same view settings for all folders. Fortunately, there's an easy way to make Vista ignore all custom-view settings and just use the defaults for each and every folder. Here's how:

  1. Click Start, type Folder Options, and then press Enter.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Scroll down until you find Remember each folder's view settings, which is enabled by default. Clear the check box.
  4. Click OK.

Presto: All folders will now use whatever view settings you choose.

Rick Broida writes PC World's Hassle-Free PC blog. Sign up to have Rick's newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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