How to enable new File Explorer (WASDK and XAML) on Windows 11

Here are the steps to try an early preview of the new File Explorer experience on Windows 11.

Windows 11 new File Explorer
Windows 11 new File Explorer

UPDATED 3/31/2023: On Windows 11 build 25330, you can enable an early preview of the new File Explorer experience using the Windows App SDK, and in this guide, you will learn the steps to enable it.

Microsoft is experimenting with a new version of File Explorer (via @PhantomOcean3) that is built using the XAML programming code and the new WinUI 3 from the Windows App SDK (WASDK), and even though the file manager continues with its same overall design, you will notice a few changes, including a new “Gallery” section that brings a new view similar to the Photos app. The experience was spotted in previous builds, but it was not until build 25309 that the feature became somewhat functional.

This is just an early preview part of a bigger project, which, as we have previously heard that the company plans to roll out a major interface upgrade for File Explorer with a redesigned Home and navigation pane. The new version of the app is said that will recommend content similar to the experience in the Start menu. It will include other features to further integrate the app with Microsoft 365 products, and other improvements will be added to make it a touch-friendly experience.

If you want to get hands-on with the new feature, you can use a third-party tool called “ViveTool” created by Rafael Rivera and Lucas on GitHub, to enable the option on your computer.

This guide will teach you the steps to turn on this new feature on Windows 11.

Enable new File Explorer app on Windows 11

To enable the new File Explorer with WASDK and XAML code on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open GitHub website.

  2. Download the ViveTool-vx.x.x.zip file to enable the new version of File Explorer.

  3. Double-click the zip folder to open it with File Explorer.

  4. Click the Extract all button.

    Extract ViveTool files

  5. Click the Extract button.

  6. Copy the path to the folder.

  7. Open Start.

  8. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  9. Type the following command to navigate to the ViveTool folder and press Enter:

    cd c:\folder\path\ViveTool-v0.x.x

    In the command, remember to change the path to the folder with your path.

  10. Type the following command to enable the new File Explorer experience and press Enter:

    vivetool /enable /id:38664959,40729001,41076133
  11. Restart the computer.

Once you complete the steps, the new version of File Explorer will be available with the “Gallery” section and new code base, but the overall design will continue to look the same.

If you change your mind, you can revert the changes with the same instructions, but on step 10, make sure to run the same commands but use the /disable switch instead of /enable.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me.