Windows 7: Explorer view – Size all columns to fit permanently

Today, I would like to share with you one very special keyboard shortcut, which will improve your productivity and save a lot of time when you have to deal with columns, grids and tables. Using this shortcut, you will be able to size all columns to fit automatically in Windows File Explorer, Registry Editor, Task Manager or any other 3rd party application which support this tricky feature. Let’s discover it!

Here are the simple instructions:

  1. Run File Explorer (formerly called Windows Explorer in pre-Windows 8 versions).
  2. Click the View tab of the Ribbon, and enable the “Details” view:Explorer Details View
    Note:  In the screenshot above, you can see a customized This PC folder with custom folders added inside. You can also add or remove any folder in This PC using the following tutorial: How to add custom folders in This PC in Windows 8.1 or remove the defaults.
  3. As you can see from the picture above, my column sizes are larger than necessary to fit all the displayed text. I would like to quickly resize them so all of them fit to size. Click on any file or folder and press Ctrl + hotkeys (Ctrl and the plus key) on your keyboard. All columns will be resized to fit!
    Explorer Details View Resized

Note that you may have to press the ‘+’ key on the numeric keypad of your keyboard. If you have a keyboard without a dedicated numeric keypad as some laptops have, then you may need to use the Fn key along with Ctrl to input the ‘+’ key correctly. The + key on the key with the ‘equals to’ sign (=) does not work for this trick.

This handy trick works in many places and apps in Windows. It is applicable to Windows Explorer in Windows XP as well.

When you run Registry Editor, with Ctrl++ shortcut you will be able to resize the right pane with values quickly. This screenshot below is taken before I pressed the shortcut:

Registry EditorAnd this one is right after I pressed the shortcut:

Registry Editor ResizedLook how neatly all the columns are automatically resized to fit.

Don’t forget, this trick works for most apps with grid/details view.

If you have any questions, see the following video:

A small note about Task Manager. In Windows 8/8.1, there is a new Task Manager app, which allows you to copy process details and has new useful features like startup impact calculation. While in the old, classic Task Manager you were able to resize columns in the same manner on any tab using this Ctrl++ key combination, the new Task Manager only allows you to use this on the Details tab. On other tabs, Microsoft has implemented the ability to show the data as a hierarchical list, i.e. “treeview”. That treeview is a completely different control, so it does not allow you to use this keyboard shortcut. Just for note: if you are not happy with new Task Manager, get the old one back using this tutorial: How to restore the good old Task Manager in Windows 8.


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