Guide to New File Explorer Changes

There are a lot of changes in the Windows 11 2022 Update, which you may also know as Windows 11 Version 22H2. This is the first major update to Windows 11 since it debuted in October 2021, and there are a lot of improvements in different aspects of the experience. One of those is File Explorer, which is an essential component of Windows. The Windows 11 2022 Update brings some design tweaks and new features to File Explorer, both on launch and in future updates.

In fact, with the Windows 11 2022 Update, Microsoft is also introducing a new rhythm of smaller updates, so some changes to File Explorer are scheduled for the October update. This includes tabs (similar to what you’d find in a web browser) and a few other design tweaks. These changes are already available to Windows Insiders in the beta channel, so we’ll cover them all here. We’ll break them down into the new at launch and what’s to come next. Let’s get started.

What’s new in File Explorer in the Windows 11 2022 Update

We’ll start with the changes to File Explorer that you can take advantage of now in the Windows 11 2022 Update. This is a relatively small set of improvements, but there are still some noteworthy changes.

new home page

With the Windows 11 2022 update, the default page for File Explorer changes. What was previously called Quick Access has now been renamed to the home page, and the page itself has some changes. At the top is the Quick Access section, where you’ll see your pinned folders, as well as the folders you access most often.

File Explorer Home in Windows 11 2022 Update

Below that is a section for installed files, which is a new addition. If you have files that you want to work with frequently, you can pin them to the home page for quick access whenever you need to. Below that, just as before, you’ll see a list of your recent files, including recent files from OneDrive and any SharePoint servers you may have access to.

You will also notice a new Filter option in the File Explorer toolbar on this new homepage. Now, you can easily filter for different types of documents, such as Word, Excel or PDF files, so you can quickly find what you’re looking for.

New context menu capabilities

The modern context menu in Windows 11 tried to simplify things, since the classic context menu contains a lot of options that are not commonly used. However, some important elements were lost initially, and Microsoft is addressing that in this update.

For starters, if you have a backing font file, you can now find one Installations The option is directly in the file explorer context menu. This also applies to certificates (.cer) and system information files (.inf), so installing these types of files is now much easier.

The file explorer context menu shows the option to install the font

In addition, in this computer File Explorer section, the context menu that appears when you right-click on an empty area of ​​the window now includes an option to map a network drive. You can also right-click on an existing network drive to disconnect it more easily.

File Explorer context menu in This PC, the option to add a network location appears

On the desktop, Microsoft has also enabled the modern context menu for the Recycle Bin.

Modern context menu for Recycle Bin in Windows 11 2022 Update

Even if these additions are not enough to make the modern context menu attractive to you, you can now easily open the classic context menu as well. You can hold the Shift key on your keyboard while right-clicking to go directly to the classic menu without seeing the recent menu.

OneDrive storage

Finally, another update you might like in File Explorer has something to do with OneDrive. Now, when you open your OneDrive folder, you will see the OneDrive icon in the toolbar. Clicking on it will let you know how much cloud storage allowance you are using and how much you have left.

OneDrive folder with popup storage in File Explorer

What’s coming next to File Explorer in the Windows 11 2022 Update

As mentioned above, some changes will be made to File Explorer with another update later in October. One of those if it supports tabs, which has been in great demand for a few years now.

File Explorer Tabs

We’ll jump straight to the chase – File Explorer finally gets tab support, similar to what you’re used to in your browser. When the update is rolled out with this change, you will notice it correctly when you first launch File Explorer. Once you open it, you will see that the tab is open at the top, and you can click on the + button to open a new tab.

Screenshot of File Explorer in Windows 11, showing three tabs at the top of the window

Just like your browser, there are also some keyboard shortcuts you can use, like Ctrl + T. To open a new tab, or Ctrl + W to close the open tab. However, not every shortcut is supported – for example, if you accidentally close a tab, you can’t reopen it with Ctrl + Shift + T.. At least, not in the current iteration.

Some mouse features are also supported. If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, clicking a folder with the scroll wheel can open that folder in a new tab. You can also middle-click a tab to close it.

This is a feature that doesn’t require much explanation, but its benefit is immediately obvious. It’s been something Microsoft has tried many times in the past, and now, it’s finally coming.

Reorganized navigation pane

The smallest, but also welcome change that comes with the October update concerns the navigation pane on the left side of FIle Explorer. Microsoft has cleaned things up and made some big changes. Now, the Home section is no longer expandable, and you’ll see both the Home page and OneDrive at the top of the navigation pane. Below that, you’ll see Quick Access folders from the home page, which has its own section instead of collapsing under the home page.

This PC folder opens in File Explorer in Windows 11 version 22H2

At the bottom of the navigation pane, you’ll see This PC and Network. This PC folder has also been modified, so you no longer see your libraries such as Documents or Pictures. Since these folders are installed on Quick Access by default, Microsoft removes the duplicate content and cleans up the navigation pane. However, this change also applies to the “This PC” view when opened in File Explorer, with shared drives and folders placed on top.

This can be a little inconvenient if you’ve uninstalled documents, pictures or other libraries by accident, but you can always get them back. You can find it in your operating system’s drive, by going to File Users folder and then open the folder that points to you. You’ll find different folders here, but the default libraries have special icons, so it should be easy to locate them.

And that’s all in the new File Explorer in the Windows 11 2022 Update. There are some big and very welcome changes here, and while not all of them are available at the moment, you won’t have to wait long. If you’re looking for more help with what’s new in the Windows 11 2022 Update, check out our guides to How to use touch gestures or Start Menu Folders in this version.