How to Disable Full Row Select in Explorer in Windows 7?

I’m writing this article specifically for Windows 7, because the FullRowSelect registry value that you used in Windows Vista, doesn’t work in Windows 7. (REF: Enable or Disable Full Row Select feature in Explorer in Windows Vista). After some of our readers reported that setting FullRowSelect to 0 doesn’t do anything in Windows 7, I decided to have a look at this issue. Playing with different bitmask values, I finally got what I wanted – to disable full row select feature in Windows Explorer (Details mode) in Windows 7, but with a minor side-effect which is explained in the later part of the article.

MSDN article on FOLDERFLAGS Enumerated Type tells that when the FWF_FULLROWSELECT 0x00200000 (Windows Vista and later) bit is set, when an item is selected, the item and all its sub-items are highlighted. However, in my Windows 7 system, the FWF_FULLROWSELECT wasn’t set, yet the full row select feature is still enabled. It appears that Windows 7 doesn’t honor the 0x00200000 bit. Perhaps Raymond Chen or someone from the MS Shell team can provide an expert insight on this?

Disabling Full Row Select in Windows 7

I could disable the full row select feature by adding the 0x02000000 bit (FWF_EXTENDEDTILES) and applying the setting for Generic folders. Yes! It was just a fluke. Here are the detailed instructions (accompanied by a REG file to automate) if you want to try it out:

1. Reset the saved folder views (Ref: Reset the Folder Views in Windows 7/Vista) and restart the shell as specified in the linked article.

2. Download, unzip and apply the disablefullrowselect.reg file.

3. Open My Computer and then close it.

This is how the registry branch will look like, now:

4. Logoff and login back. (Alternately, you could terminate the shell cleanly and restart it. REF: Terminate and Restart Explorer.exe Process Cleanly in Windows 7 & Windows Vista).

This should disable full row select in Explorer.

More (Geeky) Information

The registry edit above creates GUID folders under the AllFolders\Shell branch (each GUID pertaining to a folder type), sets the FFlags DWORD value for the following folder types to 43000001. Also, it sets the FolderType value accordingly to prevent incorrect folder type sniffing by Windows. The latter step is important so that the special folders don’t lose their special buttons and columns.

Folder TemplateGUID

For other GUIDs, check out the following Folder Types registry key here, just in case you want to test the above hack for Libraries and other special folders.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ FolderTypes

Here is the location of the AllFolders registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Classes \ Local Settings \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ Shell \ Bags \ AllFolders


With full row select feature enabled (default)

With full row select feature disabled.

Minor Side-Effect

The above hack also causes a little glitch which you can notice only if you enable the Preview pane in Explorer. When you double-click on a text file (or any text based file which has the Text Preview handler enabled), it simply goes into the rename mode. That is, if you want to open a text file, you must first select the file by single clicking on it, and then double-clicking the file to open it. Three clicks, totally. Again, this is observed only for .txt files and only if the Preview pane is enabled in Windows Explorer.

(Update: Feb 28 2010 – Additional note added below)

Other Interesting Observations of this Magical Registry Hack

Our vigilant reader Anon reported some interesting observations after running the above edit. This edit seems to force Windows 7 to use the standard list view control used in Windows Vista, instead of DirectUIHWND. Therefore, there are also other UI changes (as in the following screenshots) after running this edit.

#1: Blue-colored column header is back!

#2:  Extended Tiles view option is added instead of Tiles (some may find this annoying)

#3: Selecting a file when in list view highlights the entire length (of the longest file name in that row)

#4: Auto arrange  menu option is back. Atlast, you can disable Auto arrange option when in "icons" view. This wasn’t possible in Windows 7 earlier.

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    said this on Saturday, November 8th 2014 11:42 pm

    You are genius i love you, me save it this total of files

  2. Heaton
    said this on Thursday, July 10th 2014 5:21 am

    Another thing with this tweak is that it seems to break ‘My Computer’

    I’m guessing this is because of explorer going vista-mode as mentioned in this article but the window does not become a vista window either

    It’s more like a regular folder and you cannot see the disk space or anything else under the icons anymore

    Anybody has any ideas on this? This tweak is basically more or less perfect except for this one thing as far as I can tell! :)


  3. Inari Hutatsusan
    said this on Sunday, June 22nd 2014 12:16 am

    It worked great! But a side effect is that the Manage Wireless Networks menu does not show any network that has been stored before, but still can be seen how many are stored in.

    I would like you might check it out.

    Thank you.

  4. alex
    said this on Monday, March 3rd 2014 12:50 pm

    a very important side effect not mentioned is that the the default auto arrange function of the system becomes disabled.

    when you click Auto Arrange from the menu, there are some auto arranging things happening (like any gaps between items are closed), folders take place before files, etc. but items do NOT revert to an alphanumeric sorting.

    that is a side effect because everyone understands auto arrange (from previous systems) to entail arranging items by name. here it does not.

  5. mmmmm
    said this on Tuesday, February 4th 2014 5:05 am

    How do we disable Instant Auto Arrange? In Details view (=by far, the best view).

  6. Oliver
    said this on Saturday, January 18th 2014 9:09 am

    Thank you so much for this guide! I have used it a few times now. Being unable to custom order my files drove me absolutely mad, and this fixed it. :) Thanks again!

  7. Don
    said this on Wednesday, September 25th 2013 10:50 am

    What was wrong with XP? They just want to sell more OS systems. I did not want to switch to 7 at work or at home. But everyone was going to stop supporting XP. This is exactly why I did not want to leave XP. It worked.

  8. nemo
    said this on Friday, December 28th 2012 6:28 am

    It’s astonishing in how many ways the always mediocre Explorer managed to get even worse. You still can’t sort after extensions (you can sort after 200 other properties, but not the crucial one every single Windows operation depends on), sometimes files show the selected look, but in fact, directories are selected in folder pane and you can easily destroy loads of data, and I came across this hack because I wanted to make Win 7 stop the terrible behaviour of deselecting selected files when I change the sorting. Another truly braindead change.

  9. rob4hello
    said this on Wednesday, December 19th 2012 1:54 am

    This worked but the extended tiles for computer view in explorer messed up. So I .. Used this download on this page and download from this page ……… then I think i saved/exported the “” bags “” from the download with the most numbers and ended up with 0 to 3 bag MRU and 7 different codes in Bags / shell. >< Anyways it works off this one and the extended tiles are removed from the download.

  10. shonna
    said this on Saturday, November 17th 2012 4:01 am

    That’s fine if you’re a computer geek. I definitely am not and was totally surprised and upset with Windows 7 when I discovered I could like drop and drag photos into my preferred order ad I could with Windows XP. Never occurred to me that it would be less user friendly.

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