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How to Get Windows 10's File Explorer in Windows 11

Get Windows 10 File Explorer in Windows 11
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

There's a lot to like about Windows 11, but for many people the new design of File Explorer is a let down. It has a similar layout to Windows 10's File Explorer and an identical layout and functionality, but there's no ribbon menu and many of the common menu items such as "view extensions" are buried in the options submenu. 

Even worse, the buttons for basic functions such as cut, paste and rename are only icons with no text above them. The jump lists you get when you right click on a folder may have fewer options too. Fortunately, this is no reason to avoid downloading a Windows 11 ISO and installing the new OS. Below, we'll show you a registry hack that brings back the Windows 10 File Explorer and context menus.

Windows 11 File Explorer

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Fortunately, there's an easy way to get the old Windows 10 File Explorer back, complete with its ribbon and jump menus. You just need to edit the registry.

How to Restore the Windows 10 File Explorer to Windows 11

1. Open Regedit. You can do this in Windows 11 by hitting Windows + R and entering regedit in the Run box or you can search for regedit using the Search feature. Click Yes if asked for permission by User Account Control.

Enter regedit in the Run box

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell Extensions

Navigate to Shell Extensions

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3. Create a registry key called Blocked if it doesn't exist and navigate to it.

Create Blocked Registry Key

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4. Right click in the right window pane and select New String->Value. A new entry appears with the name "New Value #" and a number.

Create New Sting Value

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Rename your value to {e2bf9676-5f8f-435c-97eb-11607a5bedf7} . It must be spelled exactly this way.

Rename your string value

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6. Close Regedit and restart your PC.

Your computer should now show the classic Windows 10 File Explorer, though some of the icon designs may be a bit different. For example, the library folders in Windows 11 are in different colors, not just yellow. Overall, though, you're getting back the user experience and functionality you lost.

If you want to go back to Windows 11's File Explorer, just delete the {e2bf9676-5f8f-435c-97eb-11607a5bedf7} string. For more tweaks, see our articles on how to replace the Windows 11 Start menu, how to get full context menus in Windows 11, how to move the taskbar in Windows 11 and how to make Windows 11 look and feel like Windows 10. Or, if you get sick of all of these tweaks, you can always reset Windows 11.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.