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Explorer Will Not Show File Attributes (Win98SE only)

How do I make Windows Explorer show file attributes in "detail view" under Windows 98 Second Edition? I could do this in previous versions of Windows.

It's a bug. When Windows 98 Second Edition (Win98SE)  is installed to a bare disk -- if you buy a pre-configured system, for example -- Windows Explorer does not display the option to show file attributes in detail view. This is because Win98SE fails to establish the necessary registry entries. If you upgrade from, say, Windows 98, you'll have the "Show file attributes in Detail View" option because it exists under Windows 98 and you inherit the setting when you do the upgrade to Win98SE. Weird, huh?

Hold it! Before we go any farther be aware that this article describes a technique that makes changes to the Windows system registry. I have tested this successfully, as have several of my colleagues, but there is always some risk inherent to modifying such an important file. Here is Microsoft's advice on the matter: 'This article contains information about modifying the registry. Before you modify the registry, make sure you understand how to restore it if a problem occurs. For information about how to do this, view the "Restoring the Registry" Help topic in Regedit.exe...' You have been warned!

The official, Microsoft-supported fix for this problem is described in Knowledge Base article Q241380. It tells you how to enable/disable file attribute display manually by editing the registry. If you wish to use Microsoft's technique, I won't be the least bit insulted.

This very unofficial article that you are reading right now tells you how to restore the "Show file attributes in Detail View" checkbox to Windows Explorer's "advanced" options display so that you no longer need to fiddle with the registry each time you wish to change the file attributes display setting. OK so far? On to the meat of the matter . . .

File attributes display is a Windows Explorer "advanced" setting. These options are adjusted by setting or clearing the various radio buttons and checkboxes on the "View" property sheet, which is displayed as follows:

  • Start Windows Explorer.
  • From the View menu, choose Folder Options.
  • Select the "View" tab in the resulting dialog.

If you see a checkbox labeled "Show file attributes in Detail View", you're in good shape. If you don't, you can make the checkbox appear by adding some entries to the system registry:

  • Download safix.reg. Click here to download the file (440 bytes). If your browser just displays the file contents, you will need to force it to perform a download. In Internet Explorer, right-click on the download link and choose Save Target As; in Netscape Navigator, right-click and choose Save Link As; for Opera, choose Save Link Document As.
  • Run Windows Explorer and open the folder where you stored the downloaded safix.reg file.
  • Double-click on the safix.reg file (or right-click on it and choose "Merge").
  • Exit from Explorer and then restart it.

At this point, you should have a checkbox in "advanced settings" that will permit you to control file attribute display.

Thanks to Jim Gunn of Sterling Consulting for his assistance in verifying the registry entries.

References: Microsoft Knowledge Base article "Q241380 - Show File Attributes in Detail View Option Not Available in Windows 98 Second Edition."