Major Windows 11 update may bring a welcome macOS feature to File Explorer

File Explorer tabs in Windows 11
(Image credit: TechRadar)

A test build of Windows 11 has a rather cool hidden feature which allows tabs to be enabled in File Explorer to have multiple windows in one, similar to a web browser.

File Explorer has recently seen its biggest change in appearance by ditching the Ribbon interface for a more simple toolbar layout, alongside a refreshed appearance for its windows and folders.

But, managing our workflows on our PCs has become more important than ever. If you've got multiple File Explorer windows open at once, it can be a hassle to manage them, which is why this hidden feature of tabbed windows could go a long way to helping out so many users.

However, macOS users have been reaping the benefits of this for years, and it makes us wonder why Microsoft has been late to the pass for tabs in File Explorer.

Analysis: Tabbed File Explorer should already be here

Tabbed windows in Finder

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Users in macOS have been able to use tabs in Finder, Apple's File Explorer equivalent, since 2013, with the arrival of 10.9 Mavericks.

The process is the same as a web browser; you hold ALT / Command and when you click on a link, a new tab will appear. It's very useful for when you're managing files across multiple folders without having to plaster your display with Finder windows.

But in 2022 with Windows 11, this is still occurring, and it finally looks as though Microsoft is listening to this piece of feedback.

Tabbed windows can be enabled for users who are on Windows Insider build 22581 and above. If you've not signed up to be a Windows Insider to help test early versions of Windows 11, we're expecting this feature to appear later this year in the upcoming 'Sun Valley 2' update.

The feature can be switched on by going to GitHub, downloading ViveTool, opening Command Prompt, and after browsing to where the ViveTool folder is, you have to input this command:

vivetool addconfig 35908098 2

Using ViveTool to enable tabbed windows in File Explorer

(Image credit: TechRadar)

After you've restarted your PC, you'll be able to right-click in File Explorer and see a new 'Open in New Tab' command.

Once you get this working, you won't want to go back, as we're already finding in Windows 11.

It seems as though Microsoft is combing through every avenue of Windows lately, and noting down what may be needed in every app to keep it up to date with Apple, Linux and others. Tabs are going to be a big deal to many in File Explorer, where a display will just have one window with multiple tabs instead.

While it's certainly a feature that should have been in Windows years ago, it's great to see it finally arrive, and the days of multiple File Explorer windows could soon be a thing of the past.

Via WindowsLatest

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.