Wouldn’t it be great if File Explorer could show you different folders in the same window, using the tab system we all know and love from our favorite browsers? Well, it can. All you have to do is ditch Microsoft’s standard file manager for a third-party alternative, like you already ditched Internet Explorer a decade or two ago. But as it’s done with Edge, Microsoft isn’t resting on its laurels with its home-grown file management program. The latest Windows 11 preview build shows that it’s finally going to make a tabbed interface. Possibly. Maybe.
Windows 11 test build 22572 was announced yesterday, with new apps for easy video editing and managing children’s screen time. But a developer spotted something that didn’t make it into the official announcement. Frequent Windows watcher Xeno spotted a new command for the ViveTool app. Run it, and you can see tabs pop up in Windows Explorer, easy peasy.
The feature works more or less like it does on popular third-party file managers, and will be familiar to anyone who’s used a tabbed browser in the last fifteen years. Keep in mind that since Microsoft isn’t choosing to draw attention to this option — we only spotted it via TechAdvisor — that it’s not likely to show up in the public build of Windows 11 for some time. Microsoft previously tested tab-like interfaces outside the browser with “Sets,” but abandoned it three years ago.
There’s no guarantee that File Explorer tabs will make it to the release version of Windows 11. But tabs are such a useful, natural addition to File Explorer that we’d be surprised if it didn’t come down the pipeline eventually.