Windows 10’s File Explorer Is Finally Getting Support for Tabs

Posted on March 7, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows 10 with 47 Comments

Microsoft is finally bringing tabs to the File Explorer in Windows. With the release of Windows 10 Redstone 5 later this year, the company is introducing a new Sets feature that brings tabs to all Windows applications. The company tested Sets earlier with a small group of Windows Insiders, but it’s going to release the feature later this year with Redstone 5.

The updated version of Sets in Redstone 5 comes with a lot of improvements — but more importantly, it supports a couple of Win32 apps. This includes File Explorer, Notepad, PowerShell, and yes, Command Prompt. Tabs in File Explorer has been a much-requested feature in Windows for years, and a lot of users will be pleased to see the addition of tabs in Windows later this year.

Microsoft has also included a number of other improvements to Sets in Redstone 5. The design of the feature now looks way more polished, and users can now use the new tab page to open new apps in a new tab. Microsoft is also introducing the ability to restore Sets from a previous session, which will work with Timeline in Windows 10 and let users pick up from where they left off.

Tabs in File Explorer, along with the new and improved Sets feature is available with Windows 10 Redstone 5 build 17618 to those part of Skip Ahead in the Windows Insider program. As for the public, you will have to wait until the end of this year for the new update.

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Comments (47)

47 responses to “Windows 10’s File Explorer Is Finally Getting Support for Tabs”

  1. Pargon

    Can't we get a new codename? Windows 10 with Redstone 11 soon enough! Seems a bit ridiculous and hard to keep track of versions without remember the year/month for each.

    • Siv

      In reply to Pargon:

      I wish they would stop doing new versions and get Windows 10 right:

      1. Get rid of the split personality and either go back to control panel or make Settings do everything control panel did and not lose any control panel functionality.
      2. Sort out Windows Updates so that it is very easy to undo them if they crash your system, ie in recovery options add "Pick an update to remove".
      3. Bring back the testers and do a proper job before you release anything. I and lots of my small business clients are getting mighty sick of all the issues with updates breaking their systems and taking time and cost to fix.
      4. Scrap UWP apps and invent a new UWP that has all the precision of Win32 but that is installed from the store, works with keyboard and Mouse as well as touch and doesn't assume touch first.
      5. Ditch the poxy start menu and go back to something that doesn't break at the slightest issue, I spend more time trying to get the start menu working again than should ever be the case.
      6. Build something in so that when updates are applied your AV is suspended and then re-enabled when the update is completed (I appreciate there is a security risk but it's worth doing to avoid the pain we are going through at the moment).
      7. Make the new UWP apps less prone to crashing how many tmes has Edge just stopped working for no apparent reason.
      8. WHen you have done that go through everything and make it run faster and with less resources.

      Do all this and we might be interested in Windows again!

      Go back to each time a new version comes it it's Windows 11 Windows 12 etc so we know where we are.


  2. mattbg

    This looks more like "Sets supports File Explorer" than "File Explorer supports tabs".

  3. dstrauss

    Is this coming to Office as well?

  4. bluvg

    But can they make a file previewer that doesn't lock files (esp network files)? That would be a big deal in network environments.

    • NazmusLabs

      In reply to bluvg:

      That's a good point. This would be useful. I guess the current best option is to click "View" on the ribbon, and then the "Preview Pane" button. This will allow you to preview the file on your right, with the ability to resize the preview.

  5. robinwilson16

    Can anyone actually get this to work? e.g. if I open two Windows Explorer windows and drag the tab from one over to the right of the other it looks like it is going to work as the new tab plus button moves to the right but when I leave go it just moves the whole window but it remains separate and on top of the other window.

  6. Chris Payne

    "With the release of Windows 10 Redstone 5 later this year..."

    Hold on now, MS never said Sets was being released in redstone 5, this year, or even ever. You're going to get people excited, and when MS pushes this feature, AGAIN, they'll go back and claim they never communicated a release date for it.

  7. ErichK

    I thought this would make me excited, but if I had to be honest I don't even use tabs in Finder on my Mac mini.

  8. mrdrwest

    Good to know.

    This will be great to use with multiple (hard to remember) UNC paths.

    This will be a welcome addition to jump lists.

  9. Alex Taylor

    Will be interested to try this out, but in my opinion Explorer needs dual panes ten times as much as it needs tabs.

    That, and to be able to open a folder without an incredibly slow green progress slider in the top.

    The tabs look nice though, and using the titlebar to get them without losing vertical space is superior to the Groupy implementation, and quite similar to how I enjoy them in KDE.

    • André Kittler

      In reply to agt4:


      Search for Directory Opus Dual Vertical, images.

      That could be REALLY, REALLY usefull.

      Tab on explorer is solving a problem that don't exist. It's like make the start menu take the whole screen (who would do that?!!) or making different windows work on tabs instead of windows.

      Change for change's sake.

    • CaedenV

      In reply to agt4:

      All I really want is the ability to middle-click a folder in Explorer and have it open a new window... preferably have it be smart enough that if I have Explorer taking up 1/2 f my screen that the new window will fill the other half. All of the rt click, open in new window/tab sillyness is silly. Middle click, just like a web browser. Keep it simple, and use the tools we already have.

    • warren

      In reply to agt4:

      Press Windows+E, Windows+E, Windows+Left, Enter. There you go, two panes.

      Use Alt+Tab (once) to switch between the windows.

      Hold Shift while cursoring around to select files. Or hold down Ctrl, cursor around and hit space on the files you want to multi-select.

      Ctrl+C, Alt-Tab, Ctrl-V to copy.

      Ctrl+X, Alt-Tab, Ctrl-V to move.

      Alt+D to select the location bar.

  10. thalter

    The MacOS Finder has had this for years, and I don't really see the point. It makes it just about impossible to drag and drop items from one window to another.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to thalter: If it is done right it should be easy. Grab the files you want to move, drag on top of another tab, it opens, and drop the files.

      • Siv

        In reply to SvenJ:

        I'm with thalter, why is that preferable to opening two Explorer windows side by side, it just seems hamfisted? (Genuine question I am not having a go).

  11. Waethorn

    I already have this in Nautilus.

    Why doesn't Microsoft just license Stardock technologies and put them right into Windows? Stardock can backport those features into older Windows versions (for versions that that they choose to), but Microsoft can have it natively built into Windows 10. Are they so dead-set on having everything in Windows with a "Copyright Microsoft" screen without having to give accreditation to third-parties?

    • warren

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Huh? Why Stardock, which has been doing tabs in Explorer for months, and not Clover, which has had tabs in Explorer for, like, seven years?

    • dontbe evil

      In reply to Waethorn:

      ok you have it so let's stop the development...

      ...I prefer to wait and have something native

    • nerocui

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Tabbed UI is really complicated stuff. The software from Stardock is very hackie and not hardware accelerated for UI thread. It also does not have the ability to deeply integrate Edge since it's not a UWP component. Thus buying it will mean rewriting almost all of the code from scratch just for the sake to add a feature to a bunch of old OS.

  12. dmos01

    A few years ago I would have said finally, but now I use Directory Opus.

  13. djross95

    Rather than putting lipstick on a pig (tabs in File Explorer), why not a full UWP version of same? Why should anyone else develop UWP apps if MS won't do it with their own stuff? I'm sure it's a lot of work, but MS has the resources. I'd pay for that well before mixed reality and all of the other unicorns MS has been chasing lately.

    • wright_is

      In reply to djross95:

      UWP version is already available, if a little limited...

      Press Windows+R (Run command) and enter:

      explorer shell:AppsFolderc5e2524a-ea46-4f67-841f-6a9465d9d515_cw5n1h2txyewy!App

      I found the tip at a place called


    • ZeroPageX

      In reply to djross95:

      They would need to drop 95% of the functionality, or make UWP dramatically better. As a dev, I'll build a simple app on the web so it runs everywhere, or I'll use .NET on Win32, Qt, or standard C++ if I needed a native app. UWP has a unique and complex UI framework with a high learning curve, it is quite limited in functionality, and it is not truly cross-platform. I just can't find an upside to using it. They are planning on allowing some Win32 soon, and that will help, but unfortunately that's the only fix unless they want to rewrite all of Win32 and allow UWP access to things it doesn't have now for security reasons.

    • Siv

      In reply to djross95:

      If you could build a UWP app that looked exactly like a Win32 app I would be interested, but everything you do in UWP just looks hamfisted and crap. It reminds me of early electric cars they all had to look weird for some reason compared to normal cars. Why?

      If I had exactly the same toolbox of controls in the UWP designer so that I could get the exact same precision as the Win32 equivalents, I would be interested, but because you are limited to these poxy controls for UWP that force you to make Duplo programs it ain't happening any time soon?

      I just don't get why it has to look and behave so alien to what we are used to?

    • fourbadcats

      In reply to djross95:

      If Explorer were to go UWP, it would not be able to load any of the zillions of existing Win32-based shell extensions. I'm sure that's a huge part of the reason why it hasn't moved yet.

    • SocialDanny123

      In reply to djross95:

      It takes a massive out of time move the File Explorer to UWP. But it's rumored that we will have a UWP file explorer early next year.

      But with UWP support, anyone can create a UWP file explorer.

  14. Jorge Garcia

    I am not opposed to features and choice, but I do hope this is either off by default, or easily disabled.