How-To Geek

How To Get the Windows 8 Explorer Ribbon in Windows 7


You either love the new explorer ribbon in Windows 8, or you hate it. For those of you that like it but aren’t quite ready to install it, heres how to get a replica of it in Windows 7.

Note: The program is still in its alpha stage of development and there are a lot of bugs, continue at your own risk.

Head over to Codeplex and download a free copy of Better Explorer.


The installation is easy and requires is of the next, next, finish kind. Better Explorer does not replace the Windows explorer but rather adds itself as an additional program. To make it more easily accessible unpin the normal Windows explorer from the taskbar.


Now pin Better Explorer and move it to where the old explorer use to be.


Now you have easy access to Better Explorer.


Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

  • Published 10/20/11

Comments (14)

  1. Madis

    Not bad.
    Still has 2 annoying features:
    1) Icons aren’t always exactly same
    2) To big (by view), cause it has stuff like tabs that can be in titlebar to save space

    3) Also, does it have all features Win 8 Explorer does?

  2. Long

    Just installed and then removed.
    I’m using window7 with Compaq CQ50, CPU Turion RM70, nVidia 8200G and 3Gbs Ram.
    Fist the software take ~40% CPU. Then crash, and lag.
    But i love idea about ribbon.

  3. nt0xik8ed

    its not bad. if it were a part of windows i would find it acceptable. one thing i noticed is the back arrow is colored but if i click to go back it stay in the same box. just odd…

  4. nt0xik8ed

    i’ll add, i did uninstall it. the ribbon just took up too much space at the top

  5. Charles

    Thanks for the input think I willl pass for now

  6. Eric Joyce

    I tried it in Vista, doesn’t work.

  7. James

    Why anyone would prefer the horrid, screen-wasting and highly unintuitive ribbon interface beats me. I had to use Access 2007 for a project and struggling through that interface was a nightmare after always using earlier versions of the program. It at least doubled the time taken to complete the work – and didn’t get much easier even after weeks of use. Never again!

  8. Dark Reality

    I’m a huge fan of the Ribbon, but I’ve never met an “Explorer replacement” that “just works”. Also, from the screenshot, it looks like they threw a bunch of ideas at the wall and just let ’em stay where they landed.

    I’m not going to defend the Ribbon to haters, because I know it’s highly controversial, but I’m wondering if the above poster has used it on a big widescreen 1080p screen. Because the Ribbon will actually expand with the more space you give it. Up to 1024×768, I have no doubts that text-only menus are more efficient. But when you’re rocking 1920×1080, it saves so much time. Text options expanded to previews, the style galleries were real nice, and I found myself going to another ribbon, and doing everything related to that task on that ribbon. I used Access 2010, although I’m not sure if it’s an upgrade to 2007, since the file saved as an Access 2007 database. It was just a six-month demo for a class; after it expired I went back to LibreOffice. I would pay maybe $50 for a build of Office with just Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but I think Word and Excel together is $100-150. That’s too much. I don’t use office programs enough to justify the cost. But I did enjoy the pretty features while I had access to them.

  9. kelltic

    All I want to know about the Ribbon is how to AVOID it. Gr-r-r-r-r.

  10. Bob-El

    Why, why, why would anyone want ribbon menus. They’re hideous and painful to use. I haven’t used IE since they were introduced and I use LibreOffice instead of MS Office now. It preserves my sanity (and pocket book). I have used ribbon menus. They leave me confused and can’t find what I want. I’m not interested in wasting my time relearning a new menu system. Why? Why would Microsoft make us change? I’m really glad they don’t make cars. Apart from making us stop every few blocks to restart the car, they would have have put the steering wheel in the back seat and the brake in the trunk.

  11. Karina Kaminski

    IE doesn’t use the ribbon and never will. What are you talking about?

  12. Bluepython9286

    I swear the more and more I see people complain about ANYTHING being changed. If you don’t like something so much either don’t use it or make your own. Otherwise, life is full of changes and we either adjust and move forward or end up left behind. Same goes for the Win 7 haters, because its so different than their precious XP which the same people hated over 98 when it was first released!

  13. Paulo Simoes

    I have been working with microsoft products since winword 2 and excel… 3? 5? Well, I don’t remember since when.
    I’ve always thouhgt they were heavy, slow, very expensive and was very happy when OpenOffice 2 and, later, LibreOffice came out.
    I’ve tried the ribbon with wide displays and small display resolution. I still don’t know how to access some features – and some of them are not any more accecible by key combinations (or they’ve change them…
    I can accept people enjoying it, but I don’t understand why they didn’t left an option to work with the old menu system.
    And I don’t hate changes. I just hate stupid changes, and think the ribbon is one of them.
    (English beeing my third language, I apologise for some errors…)

  14. William Knight

    Installed it, and uninstalled it, like the concept and enjoyed using it, but it started blue screening on me, so removed it, will try again once they get it finished

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