Stop Windows Explorer From Automatically Expanding Folders Trees In XP


winlogo.jpgI recently installed a wireless network in my home and have three Windows XP PC's on my network. Now that I can share files and folders between computers, I'm starting to use Windows Explorer more often. But it's starting to annoy me because when ever I click on a folder in the left pane of Windows Explorer, it expands the folder and also shows it's contents in the right window pane. I just want to be able to navigate down the tree with out any folders expanding.

Is there a setting to disable explorer from always expanding a folder when I click on it (especially since the folder contents are shown anyway in the right pane)?

I can understand your annoyance with this feature in Windows Explorer. It doesn't seem to make much sense if you click on a folder, that has sub-folders under it in the left navigation pane, only to have it expand AND show the folder contents in the right pane.


What's more annoying, if you are trying to find something quickly and you start clicking on several folders in the left pane, you have to wait while each folder expands and closes.

Fortunately there is an easy fix to disable the folder list from expanding.

Disable Automatic Folder Expansion Using Control Panel

To disable auto expanding from the Control Panel in XP – click on Start \ Run \ Control Panel then double click on Folder Options.

Select the View tab and under the Advanced Settings: section, uncheck Display Simple folder view in Explorers folder list and click OK.


Disable Automatic Folder Expansion Using Registry

If you prefer to use the registry to make the same change, Click on Start \ Run and enter regedit in the run box.

NOTE: Follow the below steps exactly as specified and do not make any changes other than specified while in the Registry. Always create a System Restore point or backup of your Computer before making changes in the registry.

– Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\FriendlyTree

– In the right pane, double click on FriendlyTree and change the Value data: number from 1 to 0 and click OK.


– Exit the registry

After making the change, automatic expansion of sub folders will be disabled. Expanding a folder can now be done by double clicking the folder or clicking on the plus icon.

Filed under Windows Tips by  #

Comments on Stop Windows Explorer From Automatically Expanding Folders Trees In XP Leave a Comment

March 15, 2008

Al @ 5:08 pm #

I've been looking for this for years! It used to be the default in earlier versions of Windows and it's been frustratating me for years. THANKS!!!

October 16, 2008

Emilio Pastrana @ 3:07 pm #

I've been looking for this solution for a long time too and it is great to learn something new.

Thank you very much for sharing your expertise and good luck!

December 4, 2008

Chris @ 12:35 pm #

This has to be the tip of the decade. Spread the word!

February 23, 2009

Shun @ 3:22 pm #

Thanks! I was also looking for this for years!!!! Stupid standard configuration from Microsoft…..

Now: it's OVER!!!

September 30, 2009

Bunny @ 11:05 am #

I'm a recent convert from Win2000 to WinXP and this folder expansion one of a number of "helpful" things that XP does that drive me crazy! Thanks for the tip.

"Reg:…\Explorer\Advanced\FriendlyTree". Friendly? Ha ha! Microsoft humour, I take it.

Now, if I can just get the taskbar tooltips to appear *on top* of the taskbar, Task Manager to iconise to the system tray, Internet Explorer not to shift web pages down for the security "information bore" (oop, I meant bar) just because I have ActiveX set to Prompt and said No .. and all the other little things that used to work in Win2000.

December 19, 2009

sharon @ 7:19 pm #

I have to agree with Chris – tip of the decade. I too have been looking for a solution to this frustrating issue. Thanks so much!!

sharon @ 11:25 pm #

Hmmm … it didn't work! I checked the registry setting and it's correct. Perhaps I'm looking for the answer to a different problem??

February 24, 2010

Tricia @ 1:13 pm #

Is there a way to do this in Vista? I tried both directions, but neither works for me. I used the registry tweak first, which had no effect. Then when I tried the folder options method, it changed my dword value back to 1 in the registry–like a toggle.

Tricia @ 1:24 pm #

@Tricia: Oops, never mind. It did work, but not until I closed out of all open explorer windows and then re-opened. This is great–it has been driving me nuts for such a long time because I have one particular folder with many subfolders that I use often, and the expanded list is SO long. I almost never need to expand it on the left side like it was doing, so the default behavior was just plain obnoxious. Thanks!

August 28, 2016

john @ 10:09 pm #

Install Classic Shell.
Go to Classic Explorer Settings.
Under Navigation Pane, choose Windos Vista. The "+" in the Navigation Pane should turn to small triangle. No more auto-expanding folder trees.

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