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Published on 06.19.09 by Brent Trahan

Turn Off Numerical Sorting in Windows Explorer

Learn how to have file names sorted literally in Windows 7.

This policy setting allows you to have file names sorted literally (as in Windows 2000 and earlier) rather than in numerical order.

If you enable this policy setting, Windows Explorer will sort file names by each digit in a file name (for example, 111 < 22 < 3).

If you disable or do not configure this policy setting, Windows Explorer will sort file names by increasing number value (for example, 3 < 22 < 111).

Turn Off Numerical Sorting

  1. Type gpedit.msc in the Start menu’s search box and then press Enter.

    Note: This guide shows you how to make changes to Windows 7 using Group Policy. Group Policy is not available in Home versions of Windows 7.

  2. Navigate to User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, and then select Windows Explorer in the left column of the Group Policy editor.


  3. Double-click Turn off numerical sorting in Windows Explorer in the Settings section of the Group Policy editor.
  4. Select Enable and then click OK to save the changes.


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2 Responses to “Turn Off Numerical Sorting in Windows Explorer”

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  1. Eroen says:

    Thank you, this enabled me to sort sha1’d filenames usefully on Server 2008 R2 SP1.

  2. Paul S Adams says:

    I understand why it is sensible to sort naked numbered files in this manner, but what sense if there in sort the following list ( F001.xml, F002.xml, F00a.xml, F00b.xml, F010.xml, F013.xml, F01a.xml, F01b.xml ) as follows?

    F00a.xml, F00b.xml, F001.xml, F01a.xml, F01b.xml, F002.xml, F010.xml, F013.xml

    It is searching *within* file names for anything that looks like a number, sorting on that, and then sub-sorting those on trailing characters.

    If the name doesn’t consist entirely of digits or of a prefix with trailing digits, it doesn’t make sense to attempt to sort numerically.

    Accordingly, the default application of a policy that searches for numbers *within* (not at the start or the end of the name) is not sensible – this behaviour should be able to be controlled by policy. In other words, it should be possible to have “numerical sorting of file names” turned on with this applying only to names that consist entirely of digits.

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