How to Use Tabbed File Explorer in Windows 11 ‘Moment 1’ Update

Browser Tabs

Everything you need to know about tabbed File Explorer in Windows 11.

The much-anticipated File Explorer tabs are here. The File Explorer tabs have been available in Windows 11 insider preview for some sometime. Now it is made available to all Windows 11 users through the Moment 1 update which began rolling out in October 2022 and it will soon hit your PC. Although the Moment 1 update brings a ton of cool new features to Windows 11, the tabbed File Explorer may very well be the best of them all. In addition to tabs, File Explorer now comes with a new navigation panel, a Home page, and other functionality.

The tabbed File Explorer interface is similar to any browser. It allows you to open various folders in different tabs instead of multiple windows for every folder. The tabs make multitasking and navigation across multiple folders seamless. You can create a new instance of the window, switch between tabs, drag files across tabs, re-arrange tabs, and more.

It also helps you clean up your taskbar of several explorer windows and move through different folders or drives without confusing yourself.

Adding New Tabs in File Explorer

You don’t have to open multiple folders in different windows to search through them or work on them anymore. You can now open different folders in a single window and work across without confusing yourself.

There are three ways to open a new tab in File Explorer – using the Title bar, keyboard shortcut, or context menu.

Open a New Tab in File Explorer from the Title Bar

Similar to a browser, File Explorer has a ‘Plus (+)’ button at the end of the tabs. Just click the ‘Plus (+)’ button to open a new tab. This will open the Home screen of the File Explorer where you will have Quick access, Favourite, and recent items.

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Open a New Tab Using Keyboard Shortcut

Another way to quickly open a new tab in File Explorer is using the keyboard shortcut. To open a new tab, simply press this shortcut on the keyboard – Ctrl+T.

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You can now add as many tabs as you’d like with the keyboard shortcut.

Open a Folder in New Tab Using Context Menu

You can also open any of the folders, Drives, or Network Drives in a new tab using the right-click menu. To open a folder or drive in a new tab, simply right-click the folder and select ‘Open in new tab’ from the context menu.

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Each tab will be named with the name of the folder or the location opened.


Switching Between File Explorer Tabs

When you have multiple tabs open, you will need to switch between them at will. In the new File Explorer, you can easily switch between tabs using the mouse as well as the keyboard. Let us see how:

Select the Tab From Title Bar

The easiest way to switch tabs in any window (File Explorer included) is through your mouse. All you have to do is click on any tab you want in the Title bar to switch to it.

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Keyboard Shortcuts to Switch Between Tabs in File Explorer

You can quickly switch tabs using various keyboard shortcuts in File Explorer. 

To switch to the next tab (tab to the right), you can use the Ctrl+Tab keyboard shortcut.

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Keep pressing the same shortcut to reach your desired tab.

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To go to the previous tab (tab to the left), use the Ctrl+Shift+Tab shortcut on the keyboard.

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You can continue pressing the same shortcut until you reach the tab you want.

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Jumping to a Specific tab. You can also jump to a specific open tab in the File Explorer window without having to go through the multiple tabs in between. But, you can only jump between tabs 1 to 9.

You can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1 to 9 to jump to one of the first nine tabs from left to right in File Explorer. In a File Explorer window, the leftmost tab is Tab number 1. So for example, if you want to jump to Tab 6 in the window, you need to press Ctrl+6.

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And you will reach the 6th tab.

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Closing tabs in File Explorer

Similar to opening tabs, there are several ways to close tabs in File Explorer.

To close a File Explorer Tab, all you have to do is click the ‘X’ button beside the tab title in any tab to close that tab. 

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Alternatively, you can right-click any tab and select ‘Close Tab’ to close that tab.

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Closing all tabs except the current tab. If you want to close all other tabs in the windows except the current one, right-click the current tab in the Title bar and select the ‘Close other tabs’ option.

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Closing all Tabs right to the current tab. If you want to close every tab to the right of the current tab, right-click the current tab and select ‘Close tabs to the right’.

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And, all tabs except the current tab will now be closed in File Explorer. 

Closing File Explorer Tabs Using a keyboard shortcut

File Explorer also has a keyboard shortcut to close tabs. Simply hit Ctrl+W on your keyboard to close the current tab. However, there is only a shortcut for closing the current tab for now. 

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Once you close the current tab, the next tab will automatically open up.


Opening a New Window in File Explorer Instead of Tabs

Unlike browsers, you cannot drag out a tab in File Explorer to open it in a new window. However, you can still open folders in a new window to better organize your tabs. Opening tabs/folders in different windows can make navigation easy.

For example, if you are working on a multiple media project, you can open your photo folders in one window, music folders in one window, and video folders in another window to easily access your files.

Opening a Folder in New Window in File Explorer

Navigate to the folder, drive, or directory you wish to open in a new window. Right-click on it and select ‘Open in new window’ from the context menu.

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And the selected drive or folder will be opened in a new window.

Opening a Folder in New Window Using Keyboard Shortcut

You can also select a desired folder, drive, or directory and press Ctrl+N from your keyboard to open a new File Explorer window.

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Re-Arranging File Explorer Tabs

You can easily move or change the position of the tabs from left to right or right to left in the Title bar. To re-arrange or reposition tabs in File Explorer, drag and drop the tabs from one position to another.

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Scroll Tab List Forward and Backward

Once you have too many tabs in your File Explorer window, you will notice two arrow buttons (play button icons) on either side of the File Explorer tab list:

  • Scroll Tab List Backward (left)
  • Scroll Tab List Forward (right)

You can click these buttons to scroll through your tab list forward and backward. You can also see these buttons even if you don’t have that many tabs but when you resize the window.

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Copy Files between File Explorer Tabs

The new File Explorer also allows you to copy files between folders open in two tabs without having to open multiple File Explorer windows (as you used to do in the old File Explorer). Here’s how you do this:

To copy files between tabs, click and drag the file or folder you want to paste to the top of the destination tab as shown below. In the below screenshot, we are dragging the file to the win64_save folder.

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As you do, it will show can’t move icon as shown below.

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Once the destination tab opens, drag the file into that folder. And when you see the ‘Copy to [folder name]’ option, drop the file.

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Your file will be copied to the destination folder.