Enhancing folder view retention in Explorer

A registry change can make viewing folders easier for your users.

When a user sets the display preference in Explorer (i.e., thumbnail view, list view, etc.) for a particular folder, the view information is cached locally on the system viewing the folder -- in that system's Registry. The view information is not stored in the folder itself.

By default, Windows 2000, XP and 2003 Server only assign approximately 400 cache entries for folder views in Explorer. View information for only 400 or so folders is retained. As new folders are opened or explored, the information on older folders is cycled out. This can be frustrating for users on systems with a great many folders, since the "memory" for folder information seems to be very short.

One by-product of this caching scheme is that a folder shared across the network can have different views retained for it on different machines. Machine A may remember seeing Folder X in Details mode, while Machine B may remember Folder X in Thumbnail mode, with no conflict between the two. If you are using the workstation in question to explore a great number of networked folders, a fix like this can be useful for retaining views of networked as well as local folders.

Fortunately, the size of the view cache in the Registry can be expanded by simply editing the Registry.

  1. Open the Registry and navigate to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsShell. (If there is no such key, look for HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsShellNoRoam instead.)
  2. Look for a pair of subkeys named Bags and BagMRU. If either is present, delete them.
  3. Create a new DWORD value in Shell named BagMRU Size (note the space between the two words!) and set its value to 1000 (decimal). Larger values may not work correctly.
  4. If If HKEY_ CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsShellNoRoam is present, repeat steps 2 and 3 with that key as well.
  5. Reboot.

Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. Check out his Windows 2000 blog for his latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators – please share your thoughts as well!

Editor's note: Always use caution when editing the registry, as some changes could make Windows inoperable. Backup the registry whenever possible.


This was first published in February 2004

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