Redesign

File Explorer new features for Windows 11 22H2

Everything you need to know about the redesigned File Explorer coming to Windows 11.

File Explorer on Windows 11 22H2
  • Complete list of new features coming to File Explorer.
  • File Explorer confirmed to get tabs and redesigned navigation pane.
  • The default file manager will also receive tweaks like folder preview, new shortcuts, and context menu changes.

Windows 11 22H2 is expected to arrive during the second half of 2022, and among all the features and improvements, the feature update will also bring an updated version of File Explorer with a lot of visual changes and new features.

The new version of File Explorer will include new and highly requested features alongside visual changes, including support for tabs and redesigned navigation pane. You will find a new Home page, OneDrive integration, shortcuts, changes for the context menu, and more.

This guide will dive deep into the new improvements for File Explorer on Windows 11 22H2.

File Explorer’s top features on version 22H2

Here is a roundup of the best features and changes for File Explorer:

1. New File Explorer new Home

Starting on Windows 11 22H2, File Explorer introduces a new default “Home” page. However, this isn’t something entirely new. Microsoft has only renamed the “Quick access” page to “Home” and added a new icon. Also, the “Quick access” name will now be the name of the first section in “Home” that holds your pinned folders, and the “Pinned files” section is now called “Favorites.”

Home in File Explorer
Home in File Explorer

The “Recent” section holds your recent files locally stored on the device or in the cloud. Also, the recent and favorite files sections are now searchable using the box in File Explorer, even if they are not local files.

The “Add to Favorites” support through the context menu will now be available for files and folders, and these contents will appear in the new “Favorites” section above “Recent” in Home.

When using a Microsoft, work, or education account, “Favorites” and “Recent” files from Office.com will also appear on the “Home” page.

Finally, the “Home” page will be able to show content from OneDrive, Downloads, and virtually from all the index locations. If files are unavailable locally on the computer, they will show thumbnails, and you can share them through OneDrive.

Changes that pin or unpin files hosted in OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams will sync and be reflected in Office.com and Office apps. Also, file activity updates from collaborators, such as edits and comments, are shown in the “Tiles” view and can also be shown in the “Details” view.

On the “Folder Options” page, in the General tab, the “Open File Explorer to” option lets you decide to open the file manager on the OneDrive folder, This PC, or Home page. Also, there’s a new “Show files from Office.com” option that allows you to show or hide recent and favorites on the Home page.

Folder Options in version 22H2
Folder Options in version 22H2

2. New Files Explorer tabs

Microsoft has officially confirmed that tabs for File Explorer will be coming to Windows 11.

Tabs for File Explorer work like the experience in the web browser. Instead of having multiple instances of the app, you can now use one instance of the app to navigate multiple folders and drive locations.

File Explorer tabs re-arrange
File Explorer tabs re-arrange

When you open the file manager, you will find a plus (+) button to create a new tab in the title bar. Or you can right-click a folder and select the option to open in a new tab.

When comparing the old and new designs, we can see some improvements. For instance, you can now right-click a tab to access a context menu with the options to close the current, close all others, or close tabs on the right.

You can also re-arrange the tabs as needed using the mouse.

File Explorer even includes some keyboard shortcuts to work with tabs. You can use the Ctrl + T keyboard shortcut to create a new tab, the Ctrl + W keyboard shortcut to close a tab, and you can use the middle button of the mouse to close a tab.

Microsoft is not trying to do this for the first time. In the past, the company started testing a feature called “Sets” that was supposed to bring tabs for all apps, but the project was then canceled on Windows 10.

3. Redesigned navigation pane

File Explorer also comes with a redesigned navigation pane. The new visual changes provide easy access to pinned and frequently used folders and OneDrive cloud profiles, which now reflect the user’s name associated with the account.

File Explorer new navigation (preview)
File Explorer’s new navigation

Also, when navigating to folders syncing to OneDrive, the address bar displays the correct path to make it easier to understand when the folders are on the cloud versus when they are local to you.

The known folders (Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, etc.) are no longer displayed under “This PC” to keep that view focused on the drives.

This PC page with drivers only (preview)
This PC page with drives only

Microsoft is currently testing the new tab and navigation pane improvements, which means that not everyone will see them. However, you can use these instructions to enable both features.

4. Context menu refinements

In the legacy context menu (Show More Options), the items now include more padding, and the highlight is light or dark, depending on the system color instead of blue. You will also see this in the File menu of the Task Manager experience.

Classic context menu new highlight
Classic context menu item highlight

In addition, the context menu will add a few new top-level options, including “Install” when right-clicking on font files and “.inf” files. “Install certificate” when right-clicking on .cer files. “Map network drive” and “Disconnect network drive” when right-clicking on “This PC.” And “Disconnect” when right-clicking on network drives.

From the “This PC” page, when you click the See more (three-dotted) menu, you will find the option to add a media server connection.

Connect to a media server option
Connect to a media server option

Also, when right-clicking the “This PC” item in the navigation pane, you will find options like “Add a network location,” “Map a network drive,” and “Disconnect network drive,” and the existing “Expand” option has a new icon.

Explorer This PC context menu
Explorer This PC context menu

The file manager includes new icons for the “Rename,” “Properties,” and “Optimize” options to be more consistent and easier to understand.

Finally, this version of Windows also brings the new right-click menu to Recycle Bin.

Recycle Bin new context menu
Recycle Bin new context menu

5. OneDrive integration

File Explorer also comes with a new OneDrive integration to help you have control over storage consumption and ensure your files are syncing. When browsing your OneDrive folders, you can now see your sync status and quota usage without leaving File Explorer.

OneDrive File Explorer integration
OneDrive File Explorer integration

6. Folder previews

Furthermore, the app can now show previews of items within folders.

File Explorer folder preview
File Explorer folder preview

7. File Explorer sharing improvements

Microsoft is working on improving the file-sharing experience. For example, when clicking the Share button for a file, File Explorer will suggest contacts to share the content, nearby people, or apps.

Contextual suggestions
Contextual suggestions (Source: Microsoft)

Also, when sharing a local file in File Explorer to Outlook, it will now be possible to compose an email message within the share window without going into Outlook directly.

Share inline Outlook in Explorer
Share inline Outlook in Explorer (Source: Microsoft)

8. New File Explorer keyboard shortcuts

Also, you can use the “Shift + Right-click” shortcut to open the classic context menu instead of the modern alternative that offers fewer options.

When selecting a file or folder, it’s possible to use the “Ctrl + Shift + C” keyboard shortcut to copy the item path to the clipboard.

If you are working with tabs, you can use the Ctrl + T keyboard shortcut to create a new tab, the Ctrl + W keyboard shortcut to close a tab, and the mouse’s middle button to close a tab.