The Windows 11 File Explorer is getting a big redesign… again

The upcoming File Explorer update will show recommended items, activity history, and more directly in Windows 11’s interface.


Microsoft is working on a big update for the File Explorer in Windows 11, bringing with it a modernized design and additional features. This is on third round of significant changes bein made to File Explorer, after the initial Windows 11 release, and then the addition of tabs in the first “moment” update for Windows 11 version 22H2.


The information comes from Zac Bowden of Windows Central, and the report comes with a look at some of the upcoming changes. One of the first things you’ll notice is the new Recommended section in the Home screen, which ties into broader plan to integrate Microsoft 365 more deeply into the experience. Recommended files are pulled from SharePoint and OneDrive locations, and they’re shown with large thumbnails so you have a clearer view of the files that are being recommended.

Screenshot of a redesigned Windows 11 File Explorer with a Recommended section showing files with large thumbnails.

Image credit: Future

This integration goes deeper, too, as the Details pane for a file is also being modernized to show even more information. You’ll be able to see recent activity on shared files, as well as recent comments on a file, whether that file is shared through the cloud or via email. One of the images shared also shows a section for related files, which give you more context for a specific case you may be working on.

Screenshot of the Details pane in Windows 11 showing recent activity on a shared file

Image credit: Future

Another change, although we don’t have a look at this one yet, is a new Gallery view that’s being added to File Explorer to make it easier to browse and view pictures. According to the report, you’ll be able to hover over a photo to see a larger preview of it. Microsoft is also apparently considering adding tags to files, similar

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Exclusive: This is Microsoft’s new modern File Explorer overhaul for Windows 11

As was revealed a handful of weeks ago, Microsoft is currently working on a significant update to File Explorer on Windows 11 that will update several core areas of the app with modern designs and new features that will better integrate the experience with OneDrive and Microsoft 365.

Internal mock-ups obtained by Windows Central reveal that the updated app will feature a redesigned header with a modern file directory box, a modern search box, and a new “home” button. The existing header buttons, such as “new,” “copy,” and “paste,” will be moved into the file/folder view just below the header.

The home page itself is being updated with more integration with Microsoft 365. Along the top will be a feed of “recommended” files, which will be presented with larger thumbnails that will make it easier to see what files are being suggested to you. 

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Even the left-side navigation is being updated with more modern code, rounded highlight buttons, and more. The details pane is also getting a significant update to align with the rest of File Explorer, including integration with Microsoft 365 and a richer experience for seeing file details.

The deeper integration with Microsoft 365 means users can see email threads and recent comments about files shared via the cloud across multiple colleagues or attached via email. This info will be visible at a glance on files that are being shared or via the details pane.

I’m told that many of the updates to these areas of File Explorer will also aid in making it more friendly for touch users.

(Image credit: Future)

Additionally, Microsoft is working on a more rich photo viewing experience for File Explorer via a new “Gallery” area. Users should be able to mouse over to view larger previews of photos.

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