How to Configure the Default Viewing Templates in Windows Explorer

In our quest to help improve your experience with Windows Explorer, we are continuing with a tutorial which should help you end all your frustrations about how this application shows the contents of folders on your computer. It shows how to change any of the default viewing templates to show the details you need. Read on to learn how.

Available Types of Folder View Templates

Windows Explorer has five types of folder views between which you can switch:

  • General Items - this view template, shows the following data columns: Name, Date modified, Name, Date modified, Type and Size. The default view is Details. This view is used by Windows Explorer for most folders on your system, because they have mixed files contained in them.
  • Documents - it shows, by default, the following data columns: Name, Date modified, Type and Size. Like the General Items, this viewing template uses the Details view.
  • Pictures - this viewing template, shows pictures using the Large icons view. When selecting the Details view, it shows the following data columns: Name, Date, Tags, Size and Rating.
  • Music - it includes the following data columns: Name, Contributing artists, Album, # (stands for track number) and Title. The default view is Details.
  • Videos - the default view is Large icons. When selecting the Details view, it shows the following data columns: Name, Date, Tags, Size and Rating.

In each of these folder view templates, you can switch between the standard list of views: Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Small Icons, List, Details, Tiles, Content. Also, you can customize these views to add or remove detail, and then apply them as the standard for the selected folder view template. To learn more about the differences between these views and how to work with them, check out this tutorial: Explaining the Windows Explorer Views.

Step 1: Select a Folder Viewing Template for Customization

First, you need to open a folder which you want to customize. Then, change its viewing template to the one you want to use. Don’t forget to check the box which says ‘Also apply this template to all subfolders’.

Windows Explorer

For complete instructions on how to change the viewing template for a folder, check out this tutorial: Set a Default View Template in Windows Explorer for Any Folder.

Step 2: Configure the Folder Viewing Template

Now that you have assigned the viewing template you want to use, it is time to configure it. First, choose the Details view. This is the only configurable view. The others cannot be configured as they only about showing icons of different sizes, tiles or a small content preview.

Windows Explorer

To learn all there is to know about views, the differences between the available types of views and how to switch between them, check out this tutorial: Explaining the Windows Explorer Views.

To configure the Details view, right click on the column heading. In the right-click menu, you can check the additional columns you want from the list or uncheck those you don’t want. For detailed configured and a wider list of options, click on More.

Windows Explorer

This opens the Choose Details window. Here you can check all the columns with information you want to enable. To change the order in which they are displayed, use the Move Up and Move Down buttons. When done configuring, click OK.

Windows Explorer

As an example, I chose a folder with documents, which had assigned the Documents viewing template. On top of the default list columns, I added one which displays information on the Authors of the documents present in the folder.

Windows Explorer

Step 3: Apply the Changes to All Folders Using the Same Viewing Template

This can be done via the Folder Options window, while the folder you just customized is still selected. Complete information about the Folder Options window, how to open it and what you can configure with it, can be found in this tutorial: How to Improve Windows Explorer Using Folder Options.

In the Folder Options window, go to the View tab and click on the Apply to Folders button.

Windows Explorer

You are asked to confirm the setting. Click Yes.

Windows Explorer

Now all the folders using the viewing template you just customize, will have the same viewing settings. To confirm our change, we took a folder using the Pictures viewing template and assign the Documents template we just customized. Below you can see the difference.

Windows Explorer

Proof that this procedure works. :)

Conclusion or Step 4

Repeat this procedure to customize all the viewing templates which don’t show the information you want, the way you want it to. Then, assign the appropriate viewing templates to the folders where you store the information your work with on a regular basis. This way all your frustrations with how Windows Explorer shows information should be gone. For more helpful tips, check out the articles recommended below.