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INFO: Sorting Lists on Windows PC
Views: 3511 Created: 08-10-2010 23:36 Last Updated: 08-31-2011 10:43

To sort a list by the values in a column, click on the column header. Clicking once sorts in ascending order; clicking a second time sorts in descending order. If you edit an item in your list after sorting, clicking the column header will reapply that sort again rather than switching between ascending and descending orders.

Sorting Modes

Each list can be configured to operate in one of two modes when maintaining the order of your list items. These two modes are controlled by the Ordered List option in the Settings Tab of the List Properties window. These two modes operate as described below:

Ordered List is Off

This is the default mode for new lists. When you sort your list, the items are rearranged into the new sorted order and the previous order is lost. In this mode, the Remove Sorting menu function is never available. This mode is useful for lists in which preserving the order of items isn't important.

Ordered List is On

In this mode, sorting your list doesn't change the actual order of the items; instead, it causes ListPro to display a sorted view of your list, temporarily. The items remain in their original order, but they will be displayed in sorted order. If you want to make the sorted order permanent, you can select Reorder List from the Ordered List submenu of the View menu. Or you can remove the temporary sorting by selecting Remove Sorting from the Ordered List submenu of the View menu.

While a temporary sort is in effect, you can't reposition the items by dragging them or using the move buttons (if you try to reposition them, you'll see an alert). New items added to the list are automatically displayed in their sorted position.

In versions of ListPro prior to 3.0, this mode was always used.

Choosing a Mode

If you want to see the temporary and permanent ordering more clearly, turn on the Show item numbers option in the Settings Tab of the List Properties Window. This option causes the Item column of each item to display its item number, which is just the numerical position of the item in the list. If the list is not sorted, the item numbers will be in order. If you sort the list using a temporary sort (Ordered List is on), the item numbers may no longer be in order. If you make the sort permanent by picking Reorder List, you'll see that the items continue to be displayed in the same order, but the item numbers are now in order. If you sort the list using a permanent sort (Ordered List is turned off), the item numbers always remain in order even though the order of the items is changed by the sort.

In most cases you'll probably want to leave Ordered List off. You may want to turn it on, however, if the items in your list have an inherent order that you want to control. Examples of this type of list might be a recipe where the steps must be done in a certain order or a classic process checklist where the items are checked off in a specific order. Sorting may still be useful with such lists because you may want to use it to temporarily group items by category, to view items from highest to lowest by some column or to find a specific step in a process by viewing the steps alphabetically.

Another consideration for very large lists is that turning Ordered List off may slow down sorting noticeably because the items must be moved as well as sorted. In this case you can speed up the sorting by turning Ordered List on and manually reordering the list when necessary by picking the Reorder List menu function.

Sorting by Multiple Columns

Often you want to sort your list by one column, but within items having the same value of that column you'd like to sort by a different column. For example, if your list has Project names as its Category values, you may want to sort by Category in order to group the items by Project, but within each Project you'd like to sort the items by Priority.

To accomplish this, choose Sort By from the View menu or use the Sort By button on the tool bar. You'll see the Sort window, which will allow you to choose three columns to sort by. For each column you can also choose whether to sort in ascending or descending order. For the example above, you'd choose Category for the first column, Priority for the second column and leave <None> for the third. You'd leave Ascending as the choice for all of them.