How to change how files are displayed in Windows Explorer

Updated: 04/30/2020 by Computer Hope
Windows view details

In Microsoft Windows, the Windows Explorer utility can display files in several ways, depending on user preference. These preferences can include details such as the creation date and author.

Select a link below and follow the steps to change how files are displayed when viewing them in Windows Explorer, or to add additional columns of detail.

Change file display in Windows 8 and 10

Change display for a single folder

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click the View tab at the top of the window.
  3. In the Layout section, select Extra large icons, Large icons, Medium Icons, Small icons, List, Details, Tiles, or Content to change to the view you want to see. We recommend the Details option for users not sure what to choose.

File display options in Windows Explorer - Windows 10

Additional information about each type of view is listed below.

  • Details - Our recommended view. Details all the files in an easy to read format, and also displays the size, type, and date modified in columns.
  • Extra large icons and Large icons - Displays larger icon sizes compared to other views.
  • Medium icons and Tiles - Displays medium-sized icons of the files and folders with their names.
  • Small icons and List - Displays small icons of the files and folders with their names. (Windows XP named this Icons.)
  • Content - Displays medium-sized icons, with the file name, type, size, and dimensions.

Change display for a folder and all subfolders

To apply the chosen view to subfolders of the current folder, follow these steps.

  1. While still on the View tab, click Options on right side of the menu bar.
  2. In the Folder Options window, click the View tab.
  3. Click the Apply to Folders button to apply display settings of the current folder to all subfolders.

Apply current folder display to all subfolders

  1. Click OK to apply the change and close the window.

Change file display in Windows 7 and earlier

Change display for a single folder

  1. Open My Computer or File Explorer.
  2. Click View in the menu at the top of the window. If you do not see the View menu, press Alt to make it visible.
  3. Select Extra large icons, Large icons, Medium Icons, Small icons, List, Details, Tiles, or Content to change to the view you want to see. We recommend the Details option for users not sure what to choose.

Additional information about each type of view is listed below. Keep in mind each version of Windows is different, and all of the views below are not available in every version. If you do not see one of the below listed under view, your version of Windows does not support that view.

  • Details - Our recommended view. Details all the files in an easy to read format, and also displays the size, type, and date modified in columns.
  • Extra large icons and Large icons - Displays larger icon sizes compared to other views.
  • Medium icons and Tiles - Displays medium-sized icons of the files and folders with their names.
  • Small icons and List - Displays small icons of the files and folders with their names. (Windows XP named this Icons.)
  • Content - Displays medium-sized icons, with the file name, type, size, and dimensions.

Change display for a folder and all subfolders

To apply the view change select above to all folders below the current folder, follow these steps.

  1. Click View in the menu at the top of the File Explorer window. If you do not see the View menu, press Alt to make it visible.
  2. In the View menu, select Folder Options.
  3. In the Folder Options window, click the View tab.
  4. Click the Apply to Folders button to apply display settings of the current folder to all subfolders.

Apply current folder display to all subfolders

  1. Click OK to apply the change and close the window.

Display additional file detail

Note

Viewing additional file detail requires that you use the Details display option.

  1. Open My Computer or File Explorer, depending on your version of Windows.
  2. In the header row, which contains the column name, right-click an empty area to the right of the last column of header.

Access add detail column pop-up menu

  1. In the pop-up menu that opens, select the additional detail column you want to add. You can also select More and choose from many more columns of detail to add.

Add detail column in File Explorer

Additional information