First look at the upcoming File Explorer redesign in Windows 11

A screenshot of Windows 11s File Explorer

Every time Microsoft releases a new Windows 11 preview build, enthusiasts find many hidden software clues that often spoil the beans on Microsoft's plans to introduce new features, design upgrades, and other improvements. Recently we learned that Microsoft is working on a significantly reworked File Explorer with content recommendations and a brand-new activity panel. While everyone is waiting for Microsoft to announce the changes, folks at Windows Central have published the first look at the upcoming upgrade.

The updated File Explorer will focus on improving the visuals and delivering a better and deeper integration with OneDrive and Microsoft 365. For example, the app will get a redesigned toolbar combined with the address and search bar. Common actions, such as "New," "Copy," "Pase," and others, will sit below the address bar, not above it as in the current File Explorer iteration.

One of Microsofts Windows 11 FIle Explorer concepts
Keep in mind that this is one of Microsoft's internal concepts, not the final, release-ready thing.

As mentioned in previous reports, the Home page will start showing recommended content pulled from Microsoft 365. Microsoft will use large thumbnails with rich previews to separate recommendations from the "Pinned" and "Recent" sections.

The navigation pane will remain mostly the same, with most changes focusing on visuals, rounded corners™, and more modern code. As for the details pane, it will receive many new features, including integration with Microsoft 365, recent activities, comments from other people, access management, related emails, related files, and more.

According to Windows Central's sources, the recently spotted "Gallery" section will deliver a better image-viewing experience. For example, Microsoft wants to give Windows 11 users the ability to preview images by hovering the cursor over the photos (some might prefer pressing the Spacebar key). Finally, rumors say File Explorer in Windows 11 might allow tagging files with words and colors like in macOS's Finder.

Microsoft plans to ship the upgraded File Explorer at the end of this year as a part of the Windows 11 23H2 update. Naturally, Windows Insiders should get their hands on all the good stuff a few months earlier. Those in dire need of a better File Explorer experience might want to check out the Files app we recently included in our "Top 11 apps for Windows 11 users" article.

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