Microsoft is Working on File Explorer Tabs for Windows 11

Posted on March 10, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Windows, Windows 11 with 13 Comments

Microsoft could soon bring tabs to the File Explorer app on Windows 11. The feature is currently hidden in the Windows 11 Insider build 22572 that Microsoft released yesterday, but Rafael Rivera managed to enable it and it looks pretty promising.

Microsoft bringing Tabs to File Explorer would probably please a lot of Windows 11 power users. This should make it easier to switch between different folders and move files between them without having to deal with multiple File Explorer windows.

You may remember that Microsoft toyed with a tabbed experience for Windows apps named “Windows Sets” many years ago. This experience ultimately didn’t make it to Windows 10, and it’s not guaranteed yet that Tabs in File Explorer will also ship in a future version of Windows 11. The Windows Insider team has yet to discuss the new feature, but it could well make its official debut in a future Windows 11 build.

Mac users have been able to use tabs in the macOS Finder for many years, so it’s really time for Windows 11 to catch up. In the meantime, third-party developers have already started to fill that gap. On the Microsoft Store, there’s a popular files manager app named “Files” that already supports multiple tabs, panes, and other advanced features.

If you have yet to install it, yesterday’s Windows 11 build 22572 includes no new features but it comes with two new inbox apps, Microsoft Family Security and Clipchamp. The latter is a video editor that Microsoft acquired last year, and it’s shaping up to become a solid replacement for Microsoft’s old Windows Movie Maker app.

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Microsoft is Working on File Explorer Tabs for Windows 11”

  1. will

    They should follow the same UI options they provide for Terminal with tabs, if they choose to move forward with this. Allow for users to turn on/off and set blur effects and even allow users to turn on or off using tabs.

  2. Alex Taylor

    Dual panes are infinitely more useful than tabs, and of course tabs with dual panes inside are better still.

    Hope they get to that at some stage.

    It's a shame Sets didn't pan out, as its concept of having the window management add tabs to everything is insanely effective and a superior use of the title bar space - as was done in KDE4: got 5 word documents open? Tabbed. Got 5 of anything open? Tabbed.

    The Files app mentioned is OK, but somehow feels a bit slow, and I haven't found a way to display the Quick Access folders in the sidebar, which is jarring to me.

    • fishnet37222

      What can you do with dual panes that you can't do with two Explorer windows arranged side-by-side?

      • rob_segal

        A dual-pane interface is cleaner than arranging 2 windows side-by-side and if you close one of the dual panes, the Explorer window can remain maximized. Also, if you switch to another app, you can just switch back to the dual-pane Explorer instead of the two side-by-side windows.

        • ecumenical

          Windows 11 mostly solved the switching thing, because it now treats two side-by-side snapped windows as a single group in alt-tab or the taskbar. But there are definitely other benefits and it'd be great if MS could also support true side-by-side in a single window.

      • compunut

        You can keep them together, open them with one click, and remember where they are supposed to bloody be!!! Every time I open two explorer windows, Windows insists that they should be on top of each other. THAT is what they need to fix, and dual panes would fix that. </rant>

      • Alex Taylor

        Lots of things.

        Resize or move.

        Snap the paired panes to a half or quadrant of the screen.

        Raise and focus the pair of folders you were working on with a single click.

        And maybe most importantly in conjunction with tabs, easily switch between several folder pairs.

        It's cool if none of those matter to you, but for me it's hugely productive.

    • LT1 Z51

      Dual Panes? Sounds like you miss good old File Manager from Windows 3.1

      • dftf

        You can actually get a revived version of File Manager right-now in the Microsoft Store for Windows 10 or 11 devices, or from GitHub at , which works on Windows 7 or later, and I think requires the Visual C++ 2015-2019 librares to be installed.

        For Vista you can follow instructions at this site: . And for XP you just need a copy of the "winfile.exe" executable from a Windows NT 4 SP6a install.

    • kingpcgeek

      Maybe someone at MS should download xplorer² and see how a file manager/explorer should work. I have 10 tabs in two panes open right now.

    • mattbg

      This is like what Will suggested above re: Windows Terminal options extended to File Explorer.

      Windows Terminal lets you tab or tile (or tile within tabs) and is quite configurable.

      That is the way to go, IMO - straightforward and easy to use for people that don't want to reconfigure anything, but flexible for those that do.

  3. harrymyhre

    Are there third party file explorers for windows?