Windows 11 2022 Update: A guide to the new File Explorer changes

Windows 11 2022 Update: A guide to the new File Explorer changes

There are a ton of changes in Windows 11 2022 Update, which you might also know as Windows 11 version 22H2. This is Windows 11’s first major update since its debut in October 2021, and there have been many improvements made to various aspects of the experience. One of them is File Explorer, which is a central component of Windows. Windows 11 2022 Update brings some design changes and new features to File Explorer, both at launch and in future updates.

Indeed, with the Windows 11 2022 Update, Microsoft is also introducing a new, smaller update cadence, so some File Explorer tweaks are slated for an October update. This includes tabs (similar to what you would find in a web browser) and some additional 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 what’s new at launch and what’s coming later. Let’s start.

What’s New in File Explorer in Windows 11 2022 Update

We’ll start with the File Explorer changes you can enjoy right now in the Windows 11 2022 Update. This is a relatively small set of improvements, but there are still a few notable changes. to report.

A new homepage

With the Windows 11 2022 Update, the default File Explorer page changes. What used to be called Quick Access has now been renamed Home and the page itself has undergone some changes. At the top, there’s a Quick Access section, where you’ll see your pinned folders, as well as the folders you access most frequently.

File Explorer Home Page in Windows 11 2022 Update

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

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

New context menu features

The modern Windows 11 context menu tried to make things simpler because the classic context menu had a ton of options that aren’t commonly used. However, some important elements were missing initially, and Microsoft is addressing them in this update.

For starters, if you have a supporting font file, you can now find a Install option 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.


File explorer context menu showing option to install a font

Moreover, in the This PC section of the File Explorer, 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 an existing network drive to disconnect it more easily.

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

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

Modern Context Menu for Recycle Bin in Windows 11 2022 Update

While these additions aren’t enough to make the modern context menu attractive, you can now more easily open the classic context menu as well. You can hold down the Shift key on your keyboard while right-clicking to go directly to the classic menu without seeing the modern menu.

OneDrive storage

Finally, another update you might like in File Explorer specifically relates to OneDrive. Now when you open your OneDrive folder, you will see a OneDrive icon in the toolbar. By clicking on it, you will be able to see how much of your cloud storage allowance you are using and how much you have left.

OneDrive folder with storage wheel in file explorer

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

As we mentioned above, there are a few changes coming to File Explorer with another update coming later in October. One of them is support for tabs, which has been in high demand for a few years now.

File Explorer Tabs

We’re cutting to the chase – File Explorer finally gets tab support, similar to what you’re used to in your browser. When the update with this change rolls out, you’ll notice it as soon as you launch File Explorer for the first time. As soon as you open it, you will see that a tab is open at the top, and you can click on the + button to open a new one.


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

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

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

It’s a feature that doesn’t require much explanation, but its usefulness is immediately apparent. It’s something Microsoft has tried to implement many times in the past, and now it’s finally happening.

Reorganized navigation pane

A smaller, but equally welcome change that comes with the October update is to the navigation pane on the left side of File Explorer. Microsoft cleaned things up and made some big changes. Now the Home section is no longer expandable and you will see both home and OneDrive at the top of the navigation pane. Below, you’ll see your quick access folders from the Home page, which have their own section instead of being collapsible under Home.


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

At the bottom of the navigation pane, you will see This PC and this network. The This PC folder has also been changed, so you no longer see your libraries such as Documents or Pictures. Because these folders are pinned to Quick Access by default, Microsoft removes duplicate content and cleans up the Navigation Pane. However, this change also applies to the “This PC” view when you open it in File Explorer, bringing your shared drives and folders to the front.

It can be a bit annoying if you accidentally unpin your documents, images or other libraries, but you can still get them back. You can find them in your operating system drive, by going to the Users folder, then open the folder that applies to you. You’ll find different folders here, but the default libraries have special icons, so they should be easy to spot.


And that’s all there is to the new Windows 11 2022 Update File Explorer. , you won’t have long to wait. If you’re looking for more help with the new features in Windows 11 2022 Update, check out our guides on using touch gestures or Start menu folders in this release.


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