How to restore old File Explorer in Windows 11

Windows 11 brings along a whole bunch of changes to the various areas of the operating system. But not all these revisions and additions are a hit with users. Particularly, those who have adjusted their workflows to the current options.

The freshly redesigned File Explorer in Windows 11 is one such feature.

New File Explorer Interface

There’s much to like in this new implementation, but the overly simplified interface means that many options are missing. The Ribbon is history, the traditional context menus are gone. Plus, only some icons are now available, the very basic ones like Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, and Share.

In this tutorial, we will learn how you can restore the old Windows 10 File Explorer in Windows 11.

Old File Explorer

Restore old File Explorer in Windows 11

The good news is that if you don’t like the new File Explorer in Windows 11, you can restore the old familiar one. There are two simple ways to go about this, after which the modern implementation of the File Explorer will be replaced with the current one.

Let’s check out both ways:

Restore old File Explorer via Folder Options

This is the simplest way to get back the Windows 10 File Explorer in Windows 11 — no registry trickery required. You just check a box, and your trusty old File Explorer is back in action after a quick and automatic relaunch.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click the three-dot menu, and choose Options.
    Restore File Explorer Tutorial
  3. Once the Folder Options panel opens up, go to the View tab.
    Restore File Explorer Tutorial
  4. In the Advanced settings section, scroll down to find the Launch folder windows in a separate process option, and then check its box.
  5. Click Apply, then hit OK to save your change.

File Explorer will automatically relaunch, with the classic Windows 10 implementation of the app.

Switch to old File Explorer via Registry

Time for a little magic! A change or two in the Windows Registry will also bring back the classic File Explorer from Windows 10 in Windows 11. This is an easy enough process, though it always a good idea to back up your registry first.

  1. Press Winkey + R to get the Run window.
    Restore File Explorer Tutorial
  2. Here, type regedit, and click OK.
  3. Navigate to the following section: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
  4. Right-click the Advanced key, then go to New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  5. Name it SeparateProcess.
    Restore File Explorer Tutorial
  6. Double-click this new key and set its value data to 1.
  7. Click OK, and restart your computer.

After the restart, you will find that Windows 11 has enabled the old Windows 10 File Explorer. The classic interface is switched back, with its full set of bells and whistles.

These hacks and tricks only work in the first preview build of the operating system that Microsoft released for Windows Insiders. As of Windows 11 build 22000.71, there is no way to get the old File Explorer back in the operating system.

No guarantees that the final version of Windows 11 will allow these tricks, either.

Conclusion

Not every change in Windows 11 is for the good, not when there is considerable code debt that Microsoft is yet to attend to. The old File Explorer in Windows 10 is rich in features, and not all of these options have made the jump to the new OS. Luckily, changing things back is an easy enough process.