Set a Default View Template in Windows Explorer for Any Folder

Even though I enjoy the Windows Explorer version included in Windows 7, many of our readers don't feel the same. Therefore I decided to help and post a solution to a pretty common problem you keep having: setting Windows Explorer to use a specific view type for a specific folder. Read on to find out how.

Available Types of Folder View Templates

Windows Explorer in Windows 7 & Windows Vista has five types of folder views between which you can switch:General Items, Documents, Pictures, Music and Videos, each with a pre-set set of details shown, relevant to each content type.

The Steps to Setting a Default Folder View

First, open Windows Explorer or the Computer shortcut and navigate to the folder for which you want to change the default view.

Right click on it and select Properties or, select it with the mouse and press ALT+Enter on your keyboard - this is one of the keyboard shortcuts I love. This opens the Properties window.

In the Properties window, go to the Customize tab. Here you will find all the important settings.

Click on the 'Optimize this folder for' drop-down list and select the view you want applied to the folder.

In order to have the view applied to all the subfolders of the current folder, check the box that says 'Also apply this template to all subfolders'. Once this is done (and believe me, you want to check this box), click OK.

The new view is now always applied each time you open the selected folder and its subfolders. Below, you can see a before & after screenshot, for a folder which was initially set to open using the General Items view and then set to the Pictures view.

Quirks with Folders for Which you Cannot Set a Default Folder View

While experimenting with the procedure detailed above, I noticed some strange behavior: if you open a folder which is part of a standard library (e.g. Documents, Pictures, Downloads, Music or Videos), when you open its Properties window, the Customize tab is completely missing. Therefore you cannot make the settings detailed in the section above.

Don't panic! You can still do it. You simply need to open that folder by navigating to it WITHOUT using the Libraries shortcuts in Windows Explorer. Just go to the partition where it is found and browse until you find it. Then, open its Properties window and the Customize tab will be there.


As you can see, the procedure is not very complicated. If you need to configure this for 2-3 folders, it takes only few seconds. However, if you want to configure this for a larger set of folder, then you might need a bit of time. If you have any questions do let us know. Also, don't hesitate to look through the articles recommended below. They feature some other useful tips which will help you get a better experience with Windows Explorer.