Microsoft unveils new File Explorer interface for Windows 11

A bunch of new visual changes are coming to File Explorer, a new teaser video shows.

File Explorer new design tease
File Explorer new design tease / Image: Microsoft
  • Microsoft teases major interface changes for File Explorer.
  • The new visual changes include a redesigned header with action buttons under the address bar.
  • These changes appeared briefly in a promotional video introducing the new Windows Copilot.

Microsoft recently teased new design changes for its File Explorer on Windows 11. The new design will feature a modern and streamlined interface that will closely match the design language of the operating system, making it easier for users to navigate and organize their files.

The new visuals for the file manager briefly appeared in a promotional video during the Build 2023 developer conference, where the company announced the Windows Copilot. The video shows a new File Explorer that uses the Windows UI Library version 3 (WinUI 3) framework and brings various significant changes.

For example, the header receives a complete overhaul similar to the web browser, with navigation controls next to the address bar (and the search box on the right side). Also, the command bar will now appear under the address bar, blending with the rest of the interface instead of the header. In addition, the buttons are also getting updated.

File Explorer new header design
File Explorer new header design

The video only teases some of the major changes since the company is also planning various other improvements, including a new gallery feature known as “Gallery View” that will bring some of the “Photos” app and “OneDrive” gallery experience into File Explorer to improve the interactions with images while incorporating a familiar interface.

The details pane view is also getting an upgrade with new sharing options, activity details for Microsoft 365 subscribers, file information, related files, and related conversations.

Also, as part of the tabbing system, in the new version, you will be able to drag tabs out of the window to create another instance of File Explorer.

In addition, in future updates, Microsoft is working on adding modern design updates to make File Explorer more touch-friendly, with a simplified interface in the sidebar, header, and bigger hitboxes. Also, even more integration with the Microsoft 365 services is expected.

Although File Explorer hasn’t received these many updates in many years, the company is trying to modernize the experience slowly without breaking the familiar experience. This is essential to avoid confusion and a learning curve for users.

It’s unclear when these new changes will arrive on Windows 11, but it’s expected that the company will roll out features in small batches as soon as they are ready.

Update May 25, 2023: You can enable an early preview of the new File Explore header interface with these instructions.

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.