Microsoft to Remove Multiple Folder Options from File Explorer

Windows 10 laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft is prepping to remove some of its folder options from its Windows File Explorer program. While the motive for their deprecation is that they are said to be rarely used, many power users will likely disagree with Microsoft's decision. Note that this is currently only in the latest Insider build, but many of these tests do eventually get deployed to the public release.

"We are removing a handful of old settings under Folder Options in File Explorer as part of an effort to clean up the number of settings for File Explorer," a statement by Microsoft reads. "Many of these are legacy settings that have been around for ages and are not being regularly used by people on Windows 11."

The folder settings that will no longer appear under Folder Options in File Explorer are as follows:

  • Hide Folder Merge conflict.
  • Always show icons, never thumbnails.
  • Display file icon on thumbnails.
  • Display file type information on Folder tips.
  • Hide protected OS files.
  • Show drive letters.
  • Show popup description for Folder and Desktop items.
  • Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color.
  • Use sharing wizard.

Microsoft stresses that these settings can still be accessed via registry keys, so they can be used, only it will get much harder to do so.

Software developers tend to add features to their programs, but sometimes to make their user interfaces a little less clunky and cease testing features that few people use, they remove certain capabilities. This is hardly a big problem for the vast majority of people since some features become obsolete, whereas some others get duplicated. 

But things like 'show drive letters' and 'display file icon on thumbnails' are not items that are used rarely, especially if they are not on by default. In fact, not showing the type of file with an icon could be used as a conduit for virus and trojan exploits. 

Another aspect regarding certain capabilities that are used by 1% of advanced users is that their removal is not going to simplify the operating system or reduce its size on the disk significantly. Meanwhile, this will make the lives of the small portion of advanced users who appreciate maintaining control harder.

Let's hope there's enough outcry over "simplifying" something that only advanced users even use that MS walks back this decision before it goes into the main branch. Some of us are still salty about certain items that have been removed over the years.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • hotaru.hino
    The biggest thing on my mind is if it'll just stick with using the default values, but I think for most of them, the defaults are fine. Although for those curious:

    Hide Folder Merge conflict.
    YesAlways show icons, never thumbnails
    NoDisplay file icon on thumbnails.
    YesDisplay file type information on Folder tips
    YesHide protected OS files
    YesShow drive letters
    YesShow popup description for Folder and Desktop items
    YesShow encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color
    NoUse sharing wizard
    The coloring for encrypted or compressed NTFS files stood out to me, because a Microsoft developer noted that the choice of colors is pretty poor for colorblindness.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Correction: Microsoft is CONSIDERING removing those options, among other changes, and are testing them out in the next Windows 11 Insider build.

    As we know things in the insider builds don't always make it to stable releases, but one thing listed in it that I hope that does, and may allow me to drop ExplorerPatcher, is the reintroduced "Never Combine Taskbar Icons" option.
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    Just leave these settings alone.

    I set them up once, then never need to touch it again.
  • Sippincider
    They want to remove UI legacy? Good!

    Start with the 3.5" floppy disk icon for "save".
  • hotaru.hino
    Sippincider said:
    They want to remove UI legacy? Good!

    Start with the 3.5" floppy disk icon for "save".
    If you want to go that route, there's plenty of other skeuomorphisms we better update.
  • Giroro
    "But settings will be accessible via registry keys."

    So whenever we want to change one of these user settings, we'll have to waste an hour calling IT and try to slowly explain to an entry level desktop support admin what we want done, and then walk them through the steps to do it. Great.

    I really wish Microsoft would stop forcing user customization behind the admin wall, because people forced to use their infuriatingly slow, horribly designed, and unfixable Windows 11 GUI at work aren't exactly going to rush out and buy a Windows 11 PC to use at home.

    It's shocking that the Windows 11 GUI is still as bad as it is. They keep making minor changes, but haven't touched a single one of the GUI's core design problems and deficiencies. It's been 2 years, and you still can't even move the task bar or easily speed up their excruciatingly slow animations.
  • Math Geek
    of course its stupid but at least many many tweaker programs will simply add changes to these settings into their apps.

    i can't imagine anyone using win 11 and not tweaking the crap out of the gui and the rest. at least use classic shell to get rid of that very poorly done attempt at copying the macos gui.
  • Sippincider
    hotaru.hino said:
    If you want to go that route, there's plenty of other skeuomorphisms we better update.
    There are, but using something this obsolete in 2023 just strikes as particularly bad.

    For all the effort MS has put into fixing non-broken things, they could have at least addressed this.
  • Dr3ams
    Been using Directory Opus for over ten years. Windows File Explorer lacks a lot of features which makes it appear antiquated.
  • dimar
    I wonder if Microsoft could make the Windows OS modular. Separate different aspects of the OS to File Explorer, Taskbar, Start Menu, general UI, and open it up for the user community to mod those things as much as they wish. All Microsoft needs to do is to focus on security and the base OS, and make money from Microsoft Store.