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Microsoft Confirms Tabs Coming to Windows 11 File Explorer

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Microsoft will be answering the prayers of legions of users soon by adding tabs to Windows Explorer. The company made the announcement in a recent presentation on how it’s answering the needs of hybrid workers. Microsoft wants people to be as productive as possible, and one way to do that is to make navigating files easier.

Tabs in Windows Explorer allow you to open new tabs for various file locations in a single window. This makes copying and moving files much easier than the current system, where you need a separate Explorer window open for each file location.

We first reported on Microsoft experimenting with this feature in March, but back then it was part of a long list of features the company was eyeballing. Like all features that appear in a preview build of Windows 11, it was unclear if Microsoft was serious about implementing it for everyone at some point. With the recent update from Microsoft however, it is now a certainty. As The Verge notes, this isn’t the first time Microsoft has toyed with the idea of adding tabs to Explorer. It introduced Sets in a Windows 10 preview build that let you open new tabs in almost any application. However, the feature was never shipped with Windows despite its promise.

Microsoft says tabs are part of “the redesigned, cloud-powered File Explorer.” It adds that with tabs, it will be “easier to find what you’re looking for, allowing you to see all files in one centralized place.”

Note the small + sign at the top of the window. (Image: Microsoft)

The addition of tabs to Explorer is part of a redesign for the entire interface that includes a new “homepage.” The Quick Access files and folders are front and center now, instead of showing your recent files. The folders in the upper left corner look new to us too, as that’s where Quick Access used to reside.

Another new feature is the ability to right-click a file and mark it as a favorite; handy for commonly used files. It also shows you who last edited a shared document as well. It’s unclear when these new features will arrive in customers’ hands, as Microsoft didn’t announce that information.

The redesigned file explorer will let you mark files and folders as a favorite with a right-click. (Image: Microsoft)

This is a positive step forward for File Explorer. While the program is rather pedestrian it’s still something we use constantly. Managing files is a core component of the PC experience, and it’s always been more difficult than it needs to be.

There’s an odd dichotomy here. On the one hand, Microsoft is listening to its customers and adding features like tabs. On the other, it’s also been caught displaying ads in File Explorer. Microsoft said it didn’t mean for people to see them, which isn’t the same as admitting it’s a horrible idea. Not a single Windows user wants to see ads in File Explorer, regardless of how targeted to their needs it might be.

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