How to Sort by Date Modified (Descending) With Folders On Top?

In any version of Windows, when you sort items in a folder in descending order by Date Modified column, folders move to the bottom, and files go to the top. However, users may want to sort folders separately and have them remain at the top and files below. For example, the following is the usual behavior.

To achieve the sort order you prefer, first, sort by the “Date Modified” column in descending order. Then do a secondary sort by Name. This is done by holding the Shift key and clicking on the Name column header. Thus folders remain at the top.

There is another option to accomplish the same result. Use the Date column instead of Date Modified. To add the Date column, right-click on the column header and click More…

These excellent tips were posted by otaru1921 and raxmus at the Microsoft forums thread Sort files by date with folders on top. Once sorted in the Details view, you can change the views while preserving the primary and secondary sort orders.

However, note that the Date and Date modified fields are not the same. If metadata is embedded in a file, the Date column shows the last saved metadata instead of the date you downloaded it. For example, I downloaded an image file where the Date and Date Modified fields show different data. Date Modified shows the actual date I downloaded the file, but the Date field shows the last saved information from the file’s EXIF.

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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded in 2005.

9 thoughts on “How to Sort by Date Modified (Descending) With Folders On Top?”

  1. Finally, some instructions in plain English & so simple to do. That is after I nearly died of old age looking. The question is, why do Microsoft make life so hard for the end user by burying what should be a simple task in some stupid keyboard/click combination & not in a dropdown or right click menu.
    Thanks Ramesh, otaru1921 & Raxmus

  2. But is there a way to make it KEEP this as the default sort on all folders? Like how Windows had it default since Win 3.1 through Win7 did? Or do you have to do this every single time.

  3. Is there a way to have date modified of the file follow up through the folder structure so when you modify a file the folder is then modified and when you list by date modified the folders are listed amongst the files in chronological order?

  4. Thanks so much. I don’t know why it was so hard to find the answer to this simple question of organizing files and folders in the order you want. Thanks, simple to follow and easy to do.


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