First, Microsoft Copilot came for your keyboard. Now, it wants to live in your File Explorer.

File Explorer from Windows 11
Code in Windows 11 hints at a future integration between File Explorer and Copilot. (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft appears to be working on a Copilot feature within File Explorer.
  • Code labeled "CopilotFEContextMenu" was recently discovered, likely referring to some form of integration between Copilot and File Explorer.
  • It's not clear what the feature would be able to do, but one theory is that it will allow you to send a file to Copilot with a click.

Microsoft is on a quest to get AI in front of as many consumers as possible. A large part of that effort is Copilot, which is already available on Microsoft Edge, Windows 11, and Microsoft 365. Based on a recent discovery by X user PhantomOcean3, Microsoft appears to be working on a tie-in between Copilot and the File Explorer on Windows.

At the moment, it's not clear what the feature would do, but it hints at Microsoft's plan to make Copilot easier to access from different parts of Windows. You can already open Copilot from the taskbar.

One theory about the Copilot integration with File Explorer is that it would allow you to send a file to Copilot through a shortcut in the context menu. Windows 11 already shows different context menus depending on the type of file you right-click, so it would be a natural step to add a "send to Copilot" option for certain types of files.

Copilot on Windows is still in preview. It's quite limited right now, acting mostly as a shortcut to Copilot with Bing Chat (formerly known as simply "Bing Chat"). There are some integrations with Windows, such as switching the operating system to dark mode, but Copilot is a way off from a futuristic vision of AI integrating with your PC.

All things lead to Copilot

Microsoft Copilot features

Copilot is in preview on Windows 11 and will roll out to more Microsoft services over time. (Image credit: Mauro Huculak)

Copilot is the latest push from Microsoft. The company is all-in on the AI push. Yesterday, Microsoft announced that Windows PCs will feature a Copilot key in the future. Copilot is also accessible through Microsoft Edge and the Windows taskbar. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been clear that he wants AI integrated into all Microsoft services, and Copilot is a large part of that vision.

In addition to the File Explorer tie-in that we know little about, Microsoft is working on Copilot suggestions within the taskbar. While the feature is incomplete at the moment, you can enable it. Once turned on, Copilot will suggest actions for a file you have copied to your clipboard. The suggestions are contextual, such as rewriting copied text or removing the background of a copied image.

PhantomOcean3 shared screenshots of that feature as well. While shared around the same time as the File Explorer tie-in to Copilot, the Copilot suggestions feature is separate. You can enable Copilot suggestions without enabling CopilotFEContextMenu.

Copilot controversy

Copilot button on a Windows laptop

Microsoft announced that future Windows PCs will have a Copilot key. (Image credit: Microsoft)

I was surprised to see so much pushback about Microsoft adding a Copilot key to Windows PCs. Admittedly, I don't use the key that the Copilot button will replace, so I didn't spend much energy thinking about it. But quite a few people around the web have complained about the change.

Most criticism seems related to Microsoft "forcing" AI onto people rather than a specific key on keyboards being taken away. Entry points to Copilot will soon pop up throughout Microsoft software and hardware, so I can see the argument that Microsoft is being pushy about it.

I don't think Microsoft is forcing anyone to use AI, but a lot of users will be presented with opportunities to use AI more than they'd like, which can be annoying. Maybe I've grown soft as I've gotten older, but I can't imagine getting as upset as those in a Reddit thread on the topic. Sort by controversial if you'd like to see some passionate people explaining how the Copilot button is horrible.

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

  • naddy69
    "Microsoft is on a quest to get AI in front of as many consumers as possible."

    That's going to be difficult with no consumer products.

    It does appear that MS is pushing this stuff way too hard. It all HAS to be easy to turn off.
  • Arun Topez
    They're pushing AI/Copilot way too hard to the point of being annoying. If they were smart, instead of putting a large Copilot icon in EVERY app, the taskbar, AND a physical key... they would just make the ONE Copilot button on the taskbar float/react when there's an opportunity to be used (i.e. the cancelled floating Cortana concept that was supposed to come to Windows). The implementations they've been doing are lazy and annoying. But having ONE Copilot hook into Windows, and all apps/services (optionally of course, with the ability to opt-out) THEN that sounds more interesting and what Cortana was supposed to be. Copilot in it's current implementation is way too slow and way too limited to be of any use to consumers and currently only is useful in the Office apps. The Windows and other variants are pretty much useless in it's current form.

    And regarding the part about the backlash about the replaced physical key - in most current keyboards it's the Context Menu key that they're replacing, and it's actually a frequently used key for power users and people with accessibility needs and for people without touch screens or mice to access the right click context menus. They've now replaced it with Copilot and some OEMs like Dell put the context menu function as a subfunction, but that defeats the purpose for accessibility needs because now it requires 2 key presses instead of one. Copilot already has so many entry points on the software side AND keyboard shortcut, so there's adding a key just for launching the same webapp sidebar is desperate, most likely because consumers are not using it.
  • Laura Knotek
    The only thing I want to do with Copilot is get rid of it.