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File Explorer tabs reappear in new Windows 11 preview build

The latest Windows 11 developer build lets people open multiple folders in the file management app. The feature is supposed to cut down on time switching between folders.

Microsoft's latest Windows 11 developer build includes web browser-like tabs for File Explorer, a much-requested folder organization feature the company removed in Windows 10.

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22572, which Microsoft released this week, lets users open a folder such as Downloads in one tab while moving around or renaming files in a folder such as Quick Links within another tab, with the ability to switch between the two easily.

The feature used to be called Sets. Microsoft started testing the Sets feature in a Windows 10 preview build in 2017, but ultimately did not include it with the operating system. The last build Microsoft tested Sets in was released in 2018.

While Microsoft did not list the feature in its latest developer preview notes, Rafael Rivera, a Microsoft MVP and developer of the EarTrumpet app, discovered the change and posted a photo of it on Twitter.

"It's a popular ask," Rivera said in an email. "I recall lots of disappointed folks when the first iteration of this (called Sets) was shelved."

Screenshot of File Explorer with a few tabs open
File Explorer on Windows 11 will bring back tabs, a popular organization feature that went away with Windows 10.

Another developer reported online that in the event of a tab overflow, such as what happens on a web browser when too many tabs are open and a user can't see all of them, File Explorer provides arrows to click on to see more tabs.

Though the tabs feature is not yet enabled, Microsoft Windows Insiders were able to access the feature in Windows 11 Preview Build 22572 using ViveTool, an open source tool on GitHub that allows developers to use APIs instantly, according to Rivera, who contributed to the project. Running the command vivetool addconfig 34370472 2 in the command prompt reportedly enables tabs to appear in File Explorer upon restart.

Users across Reddit and Twitter have complained for years about Microsoft canning the feature, going so far as to recommend alternative Windows file manager tools like Xplorer2 and Nurgo Software's TidyTabs to provide a workaround.

In Microsoft's 2018 post about Build 17618, one of the last builds to add tabs to File Explorer, it described Sets as a feature that made necessary files and research documents available to a user with one click, thus saving time and allowing users to be more productive.

The latest Windows 11 preview build also includes Clipchamp, a video editing tool resembling the late Windows Movie Maker, bundled with Windows 11. Microsoft acquired the Australia-based startup in September.

Clipchamp is a browser-based app that comes with a library of filters, transitions, stock media, multitrack audio and a video compositing editor. The app is useful for small businesses and marketers who need to make short advertisement videos, according to Microsoft.

Maxim Tamarov is a news writer covering mobile and end-user computing. He previously wrote for The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., and the Sun Transcript in Winthrop, Mass. He can be found on Twitter at @MaximTamarov.

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