File Explorer gets new details pane and tab dragging on Windows 11

File Explorer already shows major visual changes coming to Windows 11.

File Explorer details pane
File Explorer details pane
  • Microsoft is already testing major changes coming to File Explorer.
  • Some of these changes include new details pane with richer information about files and folders.
  • The ability to drag tabs out of File Explorer and into other windows. 
  • These visual changes are already available in the latest preview of Windows 11 in the Dev Channel

Microsoft is planning to roll out a few improvements for File Explorer on Windows 11, including a redesigned details pane and the ability to drag tabs out to create a different instance. These new visual improvements are available starting on build 23451 through the Dev Channel. The “details pane” isn’t new to File Explorer, it’s been available for a long time, but now, Microsoft is trying to modernize and make it more useful.

The new design offer more information and actions for a particular file, folder, or drive you select. For example, when choosing a file, the pane on the right side will show a thumbnail of the item, sharing options and status, and other details. The interface may also display activity details, related files, and related conversations, but the options will depend on the location you are selecting the file. For example, activities and conversations may be available for items available through OneDrive.

File Explorer new details pane
File Explorer new details pane

The new pane slights in from the right side, and you can turn it on or off with the “Details” button on the top-right corner. You can also use the legacy “Alt + Shift + P” keyboard shortcut. Furthermore, the “View” menu also includes the option to open and close the pane.

In addition to the details pane redesign, File Explorer is also expected to include some improvements for the tabs system. For example, on Windows 11 build 23451, you can now drag tabs out (via @PhantomOfEarth) to open another instance of the file manager and move tabs between windows.

Finally, on the new “Gallery” page, the main icon has been updated, and there’s a startup page when the section hasn’t been configured with any folder paths.

Gallery startup page
Gallery startup page / Image: @PhantomOfEarth

These are only some of the changes part of the bigger plan. Microsoft recently rebuilt the file manager from scratch using the XAML programming language and the new WinUI 3 from the Windows App SDK (WASDK), allowing it to modernize the application, build additional features, and further integrate Microsoft 365 products.

For example, it has been reported that the company also plans to add modern design updates to make File Explorer more touch-friendly with a simplified interface in the sidebar and header and bigger hitboxes.

Furthermore, File Explorer is also expected to receive other visual updates for the header frame with a new search box, “Home” and “Refresh” buttons, and a new address bar.

And the command bar will include a redesigned “New” menu, and commands for “Cut,” “Paste,” “Copy,” “Rename,” “Share,” “Delete,” and others will now appear below the address bar.

This is in addition to the update for the context menu that now implements access key shortcuts into the XAML context menu to execute a command quickly. You can access the shortcuts view by selecting the file and pressing the physical “Menu” key on the keyboard.

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 Email him at [email protected].