Windows 11's light and dark backgrounds.

Overall, Windows 11 is a polished new version of Windows. But it has some serious annoyances, and we’re not just talking about how difficult it is to change your default browser. The new File Explorer context menus might look slick, but they’re set to confuse a lot of average PC users.

Meet File Explorer’s Tiny New Buttons

When you right-click files or folders in the redesigned File Explorer on Windows 11, you won’t see classic menu options like Cut, Copy, and Rename in their usual places. After a moment, you’ll realize that the small buttons near the top of the menu perform these functions.

Take a look at them. Can you guess what each button does at a glance?

File Explorer's right-click context menu on Windows 11.

From left to right, the buttons are Cut, Copy, Paste, Rename, Share, and Delete. (That didn’t look like a “Rename” button to us the first time we saw it.)

Form Over Function

We think that this design is a little strange. When you open the menu, it’s easier to find lesser-used options like “Copy as Path” and “Open in Windows Terminal.” They jump right out at you thanks to the visible text describing them.

What’s more, there’s a much larger target. After opening the menu, you can move your mouse cursor vertically downward and click on any of the options in the list. If you want one of the commonly used options, you have to carefully position your mouse over the much smaller buttons.

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It goes without saying that it’s easier to tap the larger options in the menu than the smaller icons if you’re using a touch screen, too.

Yes, Many People Will Be Confused

It’s easy to see why Microsoft is pursuing this design. By making the icons smaller, Microsoft makes the entire context menu smaller and more minimal. But this is only accomplished by making the buttons harder to find at a glance, harder to click with a mouse, and more annoying to tap with a finger.

Sure, it’s a small complaint in the larger scheme of things. But take it from people who run an instructional website: A lot of average Windows users are going to be confused and wondering where these options went.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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