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How does windows maintain the sort order in my menus?

How does windows maintain the sort order in my menus?

The short answer? In the registry, of course.

The Start and Favorites menus typically have what I can best
describe as a random order. It’s not really related to how things are
kept on disk, but rather the order in which things have been added to
the menu.

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When a Start or Favorite menu (or any sub menu thereof) is
displayed you can, of course, right click on it and select “Sort by
Name” to get the menu items in alphabetical order. Or you can
click-and drag individual items to move them around into the order you
want.

So just where does Windows keep the display order?

The first part is actually easy. The order of items in the Start and
Favorites menus are kept in a per-user registry key:


HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MenuOrder

The problem is that the individual entries are somewhat complex
and naturally undocumented. Here’s one person’s attempt at
reverse-engineering,
MenuOrder registry values,
out at
experts-exchange.

Since I haven’t tried it I can’t recommend it, but apparently deleting
the MenuOrder registry key causes Windows to sort alphabetically by default. Windows
also seems to continue to try to recreate the key, so deleting it is something
you’d need to do each time you log in. Here’s a tidbit on that:
How can I automatically keep my Windows Start menu sorted?
from JSI, Inc.

Remember that if you do end up making changes to your
registry, back it up
first
!

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