Ask LH: Where Are The Advanced File-Sorting Options In Windows 10?

Dear Lifehacker, Is there any way of advanced sorting files in Windows 10? For example, I want to sort by file type first, then by Name then by Date. Using the shift click function doesn't seem to work for me. Please help! File Flummoxed

Dear FF,

Shift clicking has a few peculiar rules in our experience. Let’s go back to the beginning for a minute, and go over how the shift click should work. We will also take a look at using the Groups function for sorting.

Shift Clicks

Make sure you are using File Explorer in detail mode - if not, click the little details icon in the bottom right of the Window.

From there, clicking Type (top middle of the window), sorts by file type. The types are in alphabetical order by type name, such as Application, JPG, PDF etc, with folders at the top. Clicking again puts them the types reverse alphabetical order.

By default, the files in each Type group are already arranged by name, in alphabetical order. Holding down SHIFT and clicking Name (after sorting by type), orders the individual files in each type group in reverse alphabetical order, without changing the alphabetical order of the types themselves.

Likewise, Shift Clicking Date or Size instead orders the individual files in the overall groups by date and size, and the reverse order on a second shift click.

From here, it’s possible to shift click a third parameter. In the case of Name, then Date or Size, nothing happens, as you can’t have two files with the same name to further sort.

If instead you sort by Type, then Shift click Date, then shift clicking Size or Name sorts by a third parameter. It’s important to note though, that the final Size or Name sorting doesn’t override the date sorting - it only applies to items with the same creation date.

One important thing — Windows 'remembers' the sorting you have done, which can make it feel like the system is suddenly broken if you don’t know what’s going on. For example, if sorting by Type, then shift clicking Name, clicking Type again changes the order of the Type categories, but keeps the name order of individual files. Another shift click is inputted as a third sorting parameter, even after clicking Type again.

To reset back to the start, clicking some other sorting method aside from Type is needed, before selecting it again.

It sounds complex, but shift clicks are a quick and easy way to order files as needed once you know the underlying mechanism.

Further options such as excluding certain date ranges, or sizes, can be accessed by hovering over the tab in question, and clicking the little down arrow tab that appears.


The more intuitive and easier to see system of sorting is to use groupings. It is slower to switch between different sortings methods though, and the underlying functionality is the same.

To use Groups, right click in the File Explorer window and select ‘Group by’, with the same options as the tabs across the top.

From there, clicking each of the individual tabs (no shift clicks needed), sorts the individual files in the groups by the different methods. Clicking the same sorting name as the group, changes the order of the overall groups.

In groups mode, shift clicking an option, after sorting by a different option, works as a third parameter.

Essentially, the grouping just makes it visually easier to see the groups, and relegates shift clicking to selecting a third parameter only.

Sorting can be handy to find specific files, but don't forget to give the search option a go. What's your favoured method to finding missing files? Tell us in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Select all is needed to achieve the above. A great shame that there is no month order (by name) function. As it is I have to tediously prefix every file alphabetically in order to achieve this.

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