Microsoft has now confirmed Windows 11’s File Explorer will get tabs. The long saga of tabs is finally coming to a close–remember when we were supposed to get them in 2018? Here’s why we’re confident Microsoft is delivering this time.

We already knew Microsoft was experimenting with tabs in recent Insider builds. But experimental features come and go. After all, Microsoft announced “Sets” tabs for Windows 10, which would have brought tabs to File Explorer, back in Summer 2018. Microsoft eventually canceled that feature.

At Microsoft’s event on March 5, 2022, Microsoft announced that File Explorer tabs would be arriving along with other awesome features for File Explorer, including a new File Explorer “Home” page with the ability to pin (favorite) individual files and more powerful sharing options.

Tabs in Windows 11's File Explorer.

It’s a big deal—file manager tabs are something many Windows users have been wanting for many, many years. Tabs have been a standard feature in Finder on Macs, file managers on Linux desktops, and third-party Windows file managers for many years.

This feature looks like it’s a done deal—Microsoft’s Sets feature was also announced, but it was much too complicated. Sets was essentially a way to create “containers” that combined multiple applications into tabs in the same window. Imagine having an Edge browser tab, a Notepad tab, and a Microsoft Word tab in the same window.

As you can see, there was a lot to Sets. It’s no surprise that Microsoft either ran into trouble with the feature or just decided it wasn’t worth the complexity.

This new tabs feature is just tabs for File Explorer—that’s it! In much the same way as Microsoft delivered just command-line tabs for the Windows Terminal, the Windows desktop will finally get this long-awaited feature.

Microsoft hasn’t announced a release date for these features yet. However, we would expect to see them arrive sometime in 2022. On Windows 11, Microsoft is delivering more frequent feature updates in a more flexible way rather than waiting for big feature updates.

The only bad news is that this feature won’t arrive for Windows 10. You’ll have to upgrade to Windows 11 to get it.

Profile Photo for 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 and Reader's Digest, 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 more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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