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How to get a file explorer with tabs on Windows 11

Files Tabs 4
Files Tabs 4 (Image credit: Windows Central)

While Windows 11 has a refreshed File Explorer, many were disappointed to see that the app lacks tab support. People have clamored for tabs in File Explorer for years, but at least for now, Microsoft hasn't obliged. While the first-party File Explorer on Windows 11 doesn't support tabs, an app called "Files" does.

It's important to note that this is not an app from Microsoft. It's a third-party app from Yair Aichenbaum. It first launched to the public in June 2020, but I've been a preview tester since before its release. The app isn't a full replacement for the default File Explorer, a fact that Aichenbaum admits, but it is good enough for certain use cases, in my opinion.

I previewed Files around a year ago. Since then, it's received several updates and a refreshed look. It looks quite natural on Windows 11, thanks to its updated icons and layout. I'd guess that if I showed most people the image below that they wouldn't be able to tell which file explorer was from Microsoft.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

You can also use Files on Windows 10, but I wanted to show it off running next to the native File Explorer on Windows 11 with the first Windows 11 preview build. Note that the exact version of Files shown off in these images is only available for beta testers.

Files is touch-friendly and scales well whether you use it on a tablet or the desktop. It doesn't have some of the features of Microsoft's File Explorer, but it can do some things that make it unique. I also think it looks better on the best Windows tablets when compared to the native File Explorer.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The biggest advantage of Files over the first-party File Explorer is that it supports tabs. You can navigate to different files and folders without having to open a second window. The app also supports dragging and dropping files between tabs and the ability to open folders and tabs by hovering over them, as shown above.

With Microsoft reemphasizing the importance of touch on Windows 11, more people may use devices like the Surface Pro 7 or Surface Pro X as a tablet. If that's the case, having a touch-friendly file explorer with some unique features could come in handy.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

11 Comments
  • I'm not sure it works on W11 without issues yet, but I've been using Stardock Groupy to add tabs to basically any window I want for a while now. Works great, and because it's not a replacement for Explorer, you don't lose any functionality.
  • I already tried it a time ago, and installed couple of times to see how is updating, but still low in performance. When open folders just make your work-flow slow. But, really love the design, great job!
  • I've been using a program called Clover for years to give native Explorer tabs. It's not without issues, but it works well enough that it's one of my first installs following each fresh Windows installation.
  • I too have been using Clover for YEARS now. It is AMAZING, and is also one of my first installs. 😁 I HIGHLY suggest it. 🍀 http://en.ejie.me
  • People complaining about lack of tabs in the explorer should just learn how to use the command line. Much more efficient than dragging files around between tabs.
  • That's woefully naiive of you and impractical. Does command line work with Sharepoint or Teams when you are batch processing multiple folders and documents from different locations? 🙃
  • Command line? COMMAND LINE? What is this, the 80s? No, that is an incredibly stupid thing to say.
  • Sadly, this, Stardock Groupy, Colver etc would be a God send for my day to day workflow but I can't install these on my work pc lol...
  • Wait, I don't have the icons on the left bar. How can I get icons like that? right now mine look like Windows 10 line-y icons.
  • "Note that the exact version of Files shown off in these images is only available for beta testers."
  • I tested this app out almost two years ago, and though it was a step in the right direction, it was a baby step at best. And since it hasn't been updated in OVER TWO YEARS, I figured it was LONG DEAD. 💀 For this app to even be usable, here is what needs to be addressed: • Folder Tree - This is a MUST have, and is basically useless without it. 😣 • List View - This is also a MUST have. • Additional Themes - I'm sure the developer REALLY likes the STARK B&W UI, but most user will NOT. 😳 • Regular Updates - At least more than every TWO YEARS. 🤔 And here are a few "Nice to Have's" that would make it even BETTER: • Show Sort Headers in ALL Views - I currently use Classic Shell for this. • Shortcuts Bar - This is the 2nd BEST feature of Clover. • Set a Default Folder Template for ALL Folders.
    https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/7923-change-folder-template-windows-... • Fix Folder View Type Issue (Automatic Folder Type Discovery).
    http://www.askvg.com/how-to-fix-annoying-folder-view-type-problem-in-win... • Integrate (or copy) WinSetView's AMAZING settings features.
    https://www.tenforums.com/software-apps/182077-winsetview-v2.html It's too bad this little app had such a rough start, because it looks like it has a LOT of potential. 😔 But until someone creates something USABLE, I will continue using CLOVER. 🍀