How to enable tabbed File Explorer in Windows 11 previews

How to enable tabbed File Explorer in Windows 11 previews

This week’s Windows 11 Insider Preview is build 22572, and while it was released yesterday, it wasn’t long until someone spotted a hidden, yet highly requested feature. File Explorer can now support tabs.

Of course, it’s not on by default, which means it’s not ready to go yet. However, you can turn it on yourself, just like many hidden features that are under the hood in Windows.

There’s something really important that we should go over before we get started. You shouldn’t do this, for a number of reasons. For one thing, enabling features that aren’t supposed to be enabled always puts your system stability at risk. It’s important that you know what you’re getting into in that regard. Of course, if you’re running the Dev channel, you shouldn’t be using your main machine anyway.

XDA VIDEO OF THE DAY

For another thing, there’s a good chance that Microsoft will just light this up in next week’s Windows 11 Insider Preview build. Of course, there’s also a chance that this never sees the light of day. And finally, from Microsoft’s perspective, it doesn’t want you to do this because it messes with telemetry.

Alright, still with us? Let’s get started.

Prerequisite for tabbed File Explorer:

  • A Windows 11 PC running build 22572

How to get the latest Windows 11 preview

In order to get started, you’ll need to join the Windows Insider Program. Note that this is another thing that you’re sacrificing system stability to do. You shouldn’t do this on your main machine.

  1. In Windows 11, go to Settings -> Windows Update -> Windows Insider Program.
  2. Click the Get started button, and follow the instructions to enroll in the Dev channel.
  3. Reboot when prompted to.
  4. Go to Settings -> Windows Update -> Check for updates.
  5. After the build installs, reboot when prompted to.

Enabling tabbed File Explorer

Enabling hidden features like tabbed File Explorer is actually very easy. It’s much less time-consuming than installing the Windows 11 build necessary for it.

  1. Download the latest release of ViveTool from GitHub here.
  2. Extract the ZIP file, preferably to somewhere with an easy to type file path.
  3. Open the Command Prompt in Administrator Mode. You can do this by holding the Shift while right-clicking on it.
    Screenshot of Windows search for Command Prompt
  4. Navigate to the folder where ViveTool is located. For example, you can use the command cd\vivetool-v0.2.1 if it’s stored in the same place as mine.
  5. Enter the command ‘vivetool addconfig 34370472 2’. 34370472 is the feature number, while the number 2 indicates that you want to enable it. You can run the same command with the number 1 to deactivate it.
    Screenshot of ViveTool enabling Windows feature
  6. Reboot your PC.

After that, you should be able to open File Explorer and find a tabbed interface, just like you would in a web browser. Hopefully, Microsoft will make this public soon, and of course, hopefully it will bring tabs to other apps like the Office suite.

Note that the app does seem a bit buggy. It’s not possible to move tabs around, and when I attempted to do so, things started to freeze up. This would obviously fall under the category of reasons Microsoft hasn’t announced it yet.

Did you light up the tabbed File Explorer? What was your experience with it?

About author

Rich Woods
Rich Woods

Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.

We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.