By default, folders appear in Microsoft Windows as folder icons or as pictures that are contained in the folder. (When folders appear as pictures, you are viewing them in “Thumbnails” view.) When Microsoft Windows Server 2003 opens a folder for the first time, the folder contents appear in Classic view. When Microsoft Windows XP opens a folder for the first time, Windows uses a default template to display the folder contents and to view the settings based on the location of the folder, the number of files in the folder, and the proportion of special file types in the folder.
If you change these view settings or customize a folder, Windows remembers your settings when you open the folder again. You can use the folder’s View menu to change the view settings for the folder. You can use the Customize tab in the folder’s Properties dialog box to modify the folder icon, picture, and template.
Note By default, Windows stores the view settings and the customizations for only 400 folders at the same time.
Some folder options apply to all folders. For example, by default, both Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP hide protected operating system files, files or folders that have the hidden attribute, and file extensions (for known file types). To modify these settings and other advanced folder settings that apply to all folders, administrators can use the Folder Options item in Control Panel.
This article discusses how to customize the appearance of folders and folder contents in Windows Explorer, in My Computer, and in individual folder windows You can customize the appearance of a folder to have Windows Explorer always display the folder using a custom folder picture or icon and always display the folder contents using a template that specifies specialized task links and viewing options.
You can customize the appearance of a folder in Windows Explorer. When you do so, Windows Explorer always displays folders as a custom folder picture or an icon, and always uses a template that specifies specialized task links and viewing options to display the folder contents.
Customize the appearance of a folder
To customize the appearance of a folder, follow these steps:
1. Start Windows Explorer, and then locate the folder that you want to customize.
2. Right-click the folder, and then click Properties.
3. On the Customize tab, select the customization options you want to use for the folder.
Note The Customize tab is not available for special folders where Windows has already set their default appearances. But, you may be able to customize the folder picture for the Thumbnails view of some special folders by using the steps in the Manually create a folder picture section of this article.
The following three customization options are available:
• Folder Template
When you select a template from the Use this folder type as a template drop-down list, you apply specific features to your folder, such as specialized task links and viewing options for working with pictures and music.
To apply a folder template to all the folders in your customized folder, click to select the Also apply this template to all subfolders check box.
• Folder Pictures
You can select the picture file (that has an image file with a .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .jpe, .jfif, .tiff, .png, or .ico file name extension) that identifies a folder in Thumbnails view. If you do not select a picture, Windows Explorer uses the folder icon. If you do not select a folder icon, Windows Explorer automatically creates a folder picture for Thumbnails view by using a Folder.gif file in the folder or by using up to the first four image files in the folder. If the folder does not contain any images, Windows Explorer uses the default folder picture.
To find the picture that you want to use to identify the folder, click Choose Picture.
If you want Windows Explorer to use Folder.gif or the first four image files in the folder to identify the folder, click Restore Default. If the folder does not contain any images, Windows Explorer uses the default folder picture.
• Folder Icons
To select an icon to remind you of the folder’s contents in Tiles, Icons, List, and Details views, click Change Icon. Thumbnails view also uses the folder icon if you do not specify a folder picture. You can select any image file that has an .ico file name extension, an icon in a program file that has an .exe file name extension, or an icon in a program library file that has a .dll file name extension to use for the folder icon. This option is not available when you customize a network share or a folder on a mapped network drive.
Note To restore the default folder icons, click Change Icon, and then click Restore Defaults.
Manually create a folder picture
To manually customize the folder picture that the Thumbnails view uses, put a Graphics Interchange Format (.gif) image file in the folder with a file name of Folder.gif. You can use any graphic editing program to create the .gif image. To use the Microsoft Paint program that is included with Windows XP, follow these steps:
1. Click Start, point to All Programs (or Programs), point to Accessories, and then click Paint.
2. To open an existing image, follow these steps:
a. On the File menu, click Open.
b. Locate the folder that contains the image that you want to use. Paint can open images files with a .bmp, .gif, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .jpe, .jfif, .tif, .tiff, .png, or .ico file name extension.
c. Select the image that you want to use, and then click Open.
3. Use the tools in Paint to modify the image (if you want to modify it).
4. Save the image after you modify the image. To do so, on the File menu, click Save as.
5. In the Save as type box, select GIF (*.GIF).
6. For the file name, type:
7. Locate the folder that you want to customize, and then click Save.
When you view the folder in Thumbnails view in Windows Explorer, the folder now has the custom image that you created, unless you use the Customize tab of the folder’s Properties dialog box to select a folder picture. The folder picture that is specified on the Customize tab overrides the manual Folder.gif customization.
Set the global folder options
To specify the global settings that apply to all folders, follow these steps:
1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Folder Options.
2. On the General tab, click the options that you want.
3. On the View tab, click the options you want.
4. Click OK.
Note To reset all folders to the default settings, click Restore Defaults on the General tab or on the View tab.
Use the same view settings for all folders
You can apply the same view settings to all the folders on your computer. You cannot apply the same view settings to all the folder icons, pictures, toolbar settings, or folder tasks. To apply the same view settings to all folders, follow these steps:
1. Locate and open the folder that has the view setting that you want to use for all folders.
2. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options.
3. On the View tab, click Apply to All Folders.
4. Click Yes, and then click OK.
Note To reset all the folders to the default view settings, repeat these steps, but click Reset All Folders in step 3.
Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756: How to back up and restore the registry in Windows
• By default, Windows remembers each folder’s view settings and customizations. This data is limited to 400 folders and is stored in the following registry keys:
To increase the number of folders that Windows can remember the view settings for, create a DWORD value named BagMRU Size in each of these registry keys, and set its value data to the number of folders that you want Windows to remember the settings for. For example, if you set the value to 5000, Windows can remember the settings for 5000 folders.
For additional information about this issue, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
813711: Your view settings or customizations for a folder are lost or incorrect
• Windows may also store customization information in a hidden Desktop.ini file in the folder. In this case, Windows sets the read-only attribute on the folder to instruct Windows to look for the Desktop.ini file. The read-only attribute does not prevent you from performing common file and folder tasks (such as copy, move, delete, and rename), but the read-only attribute can cause problems for some older programs.
For more information about this issue, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
326549: You cannot view or change the Read-only or the System attributes of folders in Windows Server 2003, in Windows XP, or in Windows Vista
The read-only attribute is not set, and Desktop.ini is not created, when you customize a network share or a folder on a mapped network drive.
• Special folders (such as hard disk folders, CD/DVD disc folders, Program Files, My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, your Windows folder, Fonts, Downloaded Program Files, and other similar folders) have their default appearances set by Windows. Therefore, you may not be able to customize special folders.
• A folder’s view settings and customizations are specific to the folder’s location. You lose this data when you move a folder to a new location.
• If you are using any type of roaming user profile, folder customizations only apply to the Desktop and network shares, not to local folders or persistent mapped network drives.
• Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 do not include the Customize This Folder Wizard that is available in earlier versions of Windows. With the Customize This Folder Wizard, you can select or edit an HTML template (Folder.htt) that Windows uses to display a folder in Web view.
• The original release of Windows XP continues to support the use of HTML templates (Folder.htt) in Web view from earlier versions of Windows. Customized HTML files (that use Folder.htt) are also supported for Web view. Web view is used if you do not use Windows classic folders, if the folder is on a network share, or the System attribute is set (for local folders). To help prevent potentially unsafe content from running when you open a folder on your local computer or on your local area network, by default, Windows XP SP1 and Windows Server 2003 do not support HTML for Web view in Windows Explorer.
For additional information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
819028: Windows Explorer no longer displays Web view templates or HTML customizations (using Folder.htt)