How-To Geek

How to Force Windows 8 to Keep the Explorer Ribbon Minimized


The addition of the Ribbon to Explorer in Windows 8 wasn’t exactly a popular decision—there were outcries from loads of people about how it would make the whole experience bloated and waste space. Here’s the simple solution.

Hit the Win+R keyboard shortcut to bring up the Run box, and then type gpedit.msc into the dialog and hit Enter. Browse down to the following section:

Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Windows Explorer

Once you’re there, find the option on the right-hand pane for “Start Windows Explorer with Ribbon minimized” and double-click it.


Set the radio button to Enabled, click OK, and close it.


Now whenever you open up a new Explorer window, the Ribbon will be minimized by default.



Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/14/11

Comments (14)

  1. Sagar

    The first screenshot looked like you’ve opened office lol.

  2. Wayne

    I’ll wait for an Explorer extension that removed the Ribbon completely. I stopped using Office because of the Ribbon. Even minimized it was too distracting. I’ll stop using Windows Explorer because of it. I don’t even show the menu bar in Windows Explorer because I never use it and it is distracting.

    It is a shame that we’ve come all this way in minimalizing the OS and providing access with keyboard commands and context menus to move to this. Chrome, recent versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer 9 show the way we should be moving. The UI should be less obtrusive and not interfere with content or work.

  3. Rusty

    I don’t mind the ribbon that much, it makes the user aware of controls that otherwise may be difficult to find, and power users will figure out tricks like this.

  4. VanManWTF

    How about they fix Win7 problem with the folder jumping around in the folder pane BEFORE they add other fluff. Now that would justify a v7 to v8 upgrade, not?

  5. KenLV

    As a long time Office user (how long? Well, the first version I had was ONLY available on floppy!) anyway, I was leery of the Ribbon, I didn’t initially upgrade to 2007 (the first time I didn’t since the early 90s) but after messing with it a bit on a friends system and learning about some tricks I like it, a lot. First, there is a build in trainer that if you use your old shortcuts it will help you migrate to the new ones.

    Plus, the command reference guides that MS did are great:

    This was a HUGE help – especially for finding things in Excel.

    Also, holding Alt will bring up the shortcut key to the Ribbon tab and then if you continue to hold the Alt key after pressing that shortcut you just continue pressing shortcut keys till you are done. For example, if I want to resend an Outlook message I sent previously, Alt + H – X – H and it’s open and ready to edit.

    I’ve not yet upgraded to Office 2010 since there is no “upgrade path” or discount – THAT has been their biggest mistake with this version IMO.

  6. Wayne

    I’ve never experienced the problem you describe VanManWTF, is there a better description somewhere?

  7. SDreamer

    Uh… doesn’t Windows save your view preferences? I just double clicked the header of ribbon and it minimized. The setting stuck too after a restart and cold boot. Not sure why it’s necessary to go through all those admin steps when you can just double click it? It’s been there since Ribbon has been introduced, Microsoft just never showed it Minimized.

  8. DisturbedComputer

    All you have to do is Click on the arrow to the right and the Ribbon will be minimized by default
    it’s the arrow next to the Question mark ..

    well that’s for office 2010 should be the same here to as the arrow by the Question mark is here too..

  9. kael

    is it useful on winxp,guy?

  10. nova1

    SDreamer and DisturbedComputer are right…. no need to mess with group policy

    Ribbon in Windows Explorer makes it easier on touch devices… try to cut/copy/paste/delete/etc. without a mouse and keyboard

  11. Devansh


    u r right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Ivydapple

    I like the ribbon system in general, but I wouldn’t like it in Windows Explorer…. :c

  13. Otto

    Friends don’t let friends run IE and don’t get me started on “the ribbon”… :D

  14. iphoness

    Thanks for the Tip, I didn’t tested Windows 8 yet. need to check it.

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