How to Use File Explorer Tabs on Windows 11

Want to learn how to enable and use File Explorer tabs on Windows 11?

Lately, Microsoft has been releasing features that users have been waiting for for ages. The focus for all has been similar, to provide quick functionality and convenience when multitasking. One prominent among all is the File Explorer tabs on Windows 11. Although Windows released a quick teaser of it a while back, the option suddenly disappeared.

Many were left confused, but fortunately,  the option is reintroduced in the latest Windows 11 Insider Dev Build 25136. Additionally, it also features a redesigned layout for the left navigation pane. Along with that, you need to be in a compatible region with a compatible PC as the feature is not currently available to everyone.

The tabs option for Windows File Explorer doesn’t come enabled by default. Therefore, you’ll need to manually turn on the feature before you can use it to make tasks quick and easy. Below, you’ll find all the information on how to enable and use File Explorer tabs on Windows 11.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get straight to it!

1. Install ViveTool.

The first requirement to get the File Explorer tabs on Windows 11 is to enroll yourself in the Windows 11 Insider program. Then, you need to have the latest PC build as the new tabbed UI is not available in all PC models. 

After that, you need to set up ViveTool on your computer. This tool is extremely useful when it comes to enabling Windows hidden features such as the File Explorer tabs. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Firstly, launch the official webpage of GitHub to download ViveTool or simply click here.
  2. Next, click on the ViveTool zip file under Assets to download it.
Use File Explorer Tabs on Windows 11
  1. Once the download is completed, right-click on the drop-down arrow next to it and click on Show in folder.
  2. From there, right-click on the file to open the context menu, then choose Extract All.
extract all option
  1. This will open a pop-up window. By default, Windows will recommend the same location as the zip folder to extract the file. But you can change that by clicking on the Browse button.
Use File Explorer Tabs on Windows 11
  1. Then, navigate to the desired location and click on OK.
select a destination option
  1. Finally, click on the Extract button to begin the process.
extact option in zipped folders

The zip folder will then be successfully extracted into the chosen folder.

2. Enable File Explorer Tabs on Windows 11.

Once you’ve installed the ViveTool, enabling File Explorer tabs becomes simple onwards. You’ll need to run a few commands in the Command Prompt, which will do the job. You don’t need to be a programmer for this, but you must type the commands carefully. Otherwise, your system will get corrupted or damaged.

Follow these steps to enable and use File Explorer tabs on Windows 11:

  1. Begin by navigating to the folder location where you extracted the content of the ViveTool zip file.
  2. Then right-click on the extracted folder and choose Copy as path from the context menu.
Use File Explorer Tabs on Windows 11
  1. Now click on the Search icon from the taskbar. There, type ‘cmd and click on Run as administrator. This step is crucial as while making changes to your system settings, you need the admin privileges that the standard account obviously lacks.
command prompt as run as administrator
  1. When the prompt launches, type ‘cd and paste the folder path you copied earlier. Run this command by pressing the Enter key on your keyboard.
command prompt in windows 11
  1. Next, run the following command to enable File Explorer tabs:
vivetool addconfig 37634385 2
Use File Explorer Tabs on Windows 11
  1. If you also want to enable the new navigation pane, run this command:
vivetool addconfig 36354489 2
command in command prompt
  1. Finally, restart your PC to save and apply the changes.

This will flawlessly enable the new File Explorer tabs on Windows 11.

3. Add New Tabs.

The new File Explorer tabs on Windows 11 make navigation extremely easy. Now you won’t have to open multiple windows at once and search through them with difficulty. The window features tabs through which you can conveniently move through different locations without confusing yourself.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Firstly, launch the File Explorer on your computer.
  2. Now, if you want to do it through the title bar, simply click on the ‘+ button next to your currently opened tab. You can now add as many tabs as you’d like.
file explorer
  1. For some users, using the keyboard shortcut keys is easier since you don’t have to move your hands much. In that case, you can simply press the Control key and T simultaneously. Continue pressing until you open the number of tabs needed.

4. Switch Between Tabs.

Of course, when you open multiple File Explorer tabs, you want to access various locations at once. This also means you’ll need to switch between the opened tabs every now and then. Well, with Windows 11 File Explorer tabs, this task is simplified.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Each opened tab will be named according to the location opened. Simply drag the cursor to the tab on the title bar you wish to access and click to open.
  2. When you’re working in a fast mode where each passing second cannot be wasted, using the keyboard shortcuts to switch between tabs can be quite handy. To switch to the tab next to your currently opened tab, you need to press the Ctrl + Tab keys. Keep pressing until you arrive at the desired tab.
Use File Explorer Tabs on Windows 11
  1. To move to the previous tab, press Ctrl + Shift + Tab keys from your keyboard.
  2. If you want to jump to a specific tab, you can do so quickly by pressing Ctrl + [Number] keys. Replace [Number] with the number of the tab that needs to be opened. However, keep in mind that this shortcut only works for the first nine tabs.

5. Close Tabs.

Now, you’ll also need to close the opened tabs to organize the task. It’s also important that you close the tabs you don’t need anymore for fast performance and prevent any confusion that will result in delay.

Below are the steps you’ll need to follow:

  1. With your mouse, hover your cursor over the ‘x’ button on your currently opened tab to close it. You can also press Ctrl + W if you prefer keyboard shortcuts. Continue doing so if you wish to close all the opened tabs on File Explorer.
  2. If you want to close all the other tabs except for the one currently opened, right-click on it from the title bar and select Close other tabs
close other tabs option in file explorer
  1. When you need to close all tabs right to the currently opened tab, right-click on it from the title bar and click on Close tabs to the right.
close tabs to the right option

6. Open a New Window.

Unlike most browsers, Windows File Explorer still lacks the ability to rearrange the tabs. Also, you cannot drag out the tab to open it in a new window. But that doesn’t mean you cannot open folders in a new window at all.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Navigate to the location of the folder, drive, or directory you want to open in a new window.
  2. Right-click on it and choose Open in new window from the context menu.
open in new window option in file explorer
  1. Alternatively, you may press Ctrl + N from your keyboard to open a new File Explorer window and navigate to the location from there.

That was it! Here, we end our guide on how to enable and use File Explorer tabs on Windows 11. For further queries, head to the comment section below. We’ll respond to you as soon as possible.

If this guide helped you, please share it. 😊


  • Aimen Choudhry

    Aimen Choudhry is an architecture student who has always been fascinated by science. She now finds her therapy researching and writing about the latest technology and the issues that come alongside. Otherwise, you’ll find her playing video games, listening to music, or watching fantasy/sci-fi movies.

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