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The evolution of File Explorer in Windows 11 23H2

This article explores the major changes and features added in File Explorer on Windows 11, providing a comprehensive overview of the innovations.

File Explorer

Table of Contents

With the Windows 11 2023 update, Microsoft has introduced a number of new features and improvements for File Explorer. In this article we will look in detail at all the new features. 

File Explorer in Windows 11 23H2

As part of the new features introduced with the Windows 11 2023 update, also identified as version 23H2, Microsoft has highlighted a major overhaul of one of the tools most used by users: File Explorer. This revamped version represents a real evolution in terms of functionality and design.

One of the key aspects of this renewal is the codebase, or the set of source codes that make up the application. Microsoft has decided to adopt WinUI 3, a modern user interface that is part of the Windows App SDK (formerly known as WASDK). This choice provides greater fluidity, responsiveness, and a more intuitive user experience.In addition, the use of XAML, a markup language used to define and create user interfaces, ensures that File Explorer is able to offer richer and more customizable interaction.

Despite having a refreshed and modern look, the new File Explorer retains that familiar and intuitive feel that has always characterized this tool, making the transition to the new version smooth and seamless for longtime users. All you have to do is upgrade to Windows 11 or activate Windows 11 legally and wait for the release of the new update.

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Revamped design and functionality in File Explorer

Revamped design and functionality in File Explorer aim to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding and detail-oriented audience. Can’t wait to try out the new features? Read our article on how to upgrade to Windows 11 23H2 before the official release.

New Header in File Explorer

Among the new features introduced with the File Explorer update, the element that immediately jumps out at you is the revised header. Critical for navigation and interaction with files, this section has undergone a significant transformation, aimed at improving the user experience and overall functionality.

In particular, the command bar, which contains a number of essential buttons for common operations, has been moved to the bottom of the address bar. This design choice is not only aesthetic, but also functional: by placing the command bar close to the address bar, the user can quickly access the main functions without having to move the cursor or gaze too far.

The buttons themselves have undergone a redesign: they now feature a more modern and clean design, in keeping with the overall aesthetics of the new Windows 11 23H2. Each button is designed to be instantly recognizable and to provide a clear visual response when selected or used.

Finally, a detail that might seem minor but contributes greatly to the user experience is the introduction of a new loading animation. This animation, which is visible when accessing a new folder or uploading a file, has been optimized to be smooth and less intrusive, providing the user with immediate feedback on current operations without distracting attention from the main content.

Advanced integration of OneDrive in the File Explorer header. 

With the latest update of File Explorer, Microsoft wanted to place special emphasis on integration with OneDrive, its cloud storage service. This revamp is clearly evident in the new header, where specific features have been introduced to improve interaction with OneDrive.

One of the most noticeable aspects of this integration is the address bar, which now not only shows the path to files or folders, but also offers real-time information about the synchronization status of files saved on OneDrive. This feature is particularly useful for those who use the cloud service frequently, as it allows them to keep track of the alignment between local files and those saved in the cloud at all times, avoiding possible inconsistencies or data loss.

But the new features do not stop there. To provide users with a complete picture of the situation of their OneDrive space, an interactive feature has been introduced: by placing the cursor over the OneDrive icon, a detailed pane appears that provides valuable information about the used and available storage space. This visual tool allows users to easily monitor the amount of space occupied by their files and better manage their storage capacity, avoiding surprises such as reaching the available space limit.

Evolution of Navigation 

With the arrival of Windows 11, Microsoft has introduced a number of aesthetic and functional changes aimed at making the user experience smoother and more intuitive. One of the tools that has benefited from these innovations is File Explorer, the heart of file management on Windows.

One of the most evident aspects in the new version of File Explorer is the sophistication of the interface. The rounded corners, for example, are part of a design choice aimed at making the work environment more welcoming and less rigid. This detail, while seeming minor, contributes to a more relaxed and modern working atmosphere.

In addition, the introduction of the updated pop-up design is another step in the direction of greater interface interactivity and responsiveness. This type of design, in which contextual elements appear in response to user actions, makes navigation more dynamic and immediate, reducing waiting time and improving efficiency.

All of these changes are perfectly in line with the modern, clean style of Windows 11, which aims to offer an operating system that is not only powerful and versatile, but also pleasant to use and able to meet the aesthetic and functional needs of 21st century users.

An Expanded View of Your Data with the New Details Pane

As operating systems and user interfaces continue to evolve, Microsoft has decided to breathe new life into the “Details” pane within File Explorer, making it an even more powerful and informative tool.

The Details pane, traditionally used to provide a quick overview of the properties of a file, folder or drive, has been greatly enhanced. Now, it not only offers a summary description, but goes into detail, providing a wealth of information that previously was accessible only through more complex paths or third-party software.

For example, by selecting a file, not only will you be able to see its size or the date it was last modified, but you will have access to a range of metadata that may include the author, associated tags, resolution in the case of images, duration for audio or video files, and much more. This allows users to have an immediate understanding of the characteristics of the file without having to open it or use other tools.

For folders and drives, the Details pane now provides an overall view of the space used, the number of files and subfolders contained, and other useful information such as the date of creation or last access. The enhanced Details pane also integrates a number of quick actions that the user can take directly from there. Whether it’s changing a file’s permissions, sharing it, adding tags, or performing other common tasks, it can now be done in just a few clicks, directly from the pane.

Deep Renovation of the Home Page

The File Explorer Home Page is one of the elements that has received special attention. This page, which serves as the starting point for browsing and accessing files, has been completely redesigned to provide an improved user experience more in line with current design trends. The first thing that stands out is the aesthetic overhaul. In addition to a cleaner and more modern layout, the Home Page now features revamped icons and graphics, making the interface more intuitive and pleasing to the eye.

The “Quick Access,” “Favorites,” and “Recent” sections have been particularly well taken care of. Quick Access now offers a clearer view of the most frequently used files and folders, allowing users to access their favorite content with a single click. The Favorites section, on the other hand, has been optimized to provide easier and more immediate management of bookmarks, while Recent has been enhanced to provide a more detailed and organized history of recent activities.

Every detail has been designed to make navigation smoother and to help users find what they need quickly and efficiently. This Home Page redesign is not just an aesthetic change, but represents a significant step forward in Microsoft’s vision of making File Explorer an increasingly central and functional tool for Windows users.

The Gallery section is designed to meet the needs of all those who manage images and photographs on a daily basis, whether for work or passion. The Gallery is not limited to being a simple container of images. Its interface was designed inspired by Microsoft’s “Photos” app, one of the most popular applications for viewing and organizing images. This choice provides users with a familiar experience, but at the same time enriched with new features specific to File Explorer.

Managing images in the Gallery is now more intuitive than ever. Photo thumbnails are arranged clearly and neatly, and the ability to zoom, tag, or edit the information associated with each image is at your fingertips. In addition, advanced search and filtering functions have been introduced, allowing you to quickly find a specific photo or group of related images.

In addition to individual image management, the Gallery also offers tools for organizing photos into albums or thematic collections, making it easier to create slideshows or select images for specific projects.

Sharing Features in File Explorer

In the age of connectivity and digital collaboration, the ability to share files efficiently and securely has become essential. Recognizing the importance of this dynamic, Microsoft decided to invest significantly in optimizing the sharing capabilities within File Explorer.

The first major change concerns the user interface. The sharing section has been completely overhauled to provide a more intuitive and user-friendly experience. Now, users can benefit from a cleaner layout and revamped icons that make the sharing action immediate and smooth.

File transfer speeds have been significantly improved, reducing waiting times and ensuring smoother sharing, especially when large files are involved. This is especially useful in professional settings, where speed in document sharing can make a difference.

Finally, another noteworthy aspect is the enhanced integration with the Outlook app. Now, sharing a file via email has become even easier: with just a few clicks, you can attach a document directly into a new email, taking advantage of all the features offered by Outlook, such as contact management, advanced formatting, and security options.

Innovations in Archive Format Management in File Explorer

Managing compressed files has always been a key component of the user experience in any operating system. Recognizing the importance of offering users a wider range of options in this area, Microsoft decided to enhance File Explorer through the integration of the “libarchive” project.

This step represents a significant breakthrough. Libarchive is a widely recognized and appreciated project in the developer community for its versatility and reliability in handling archive formats. With this integration, File Explorer is no longer limited to supporting only a few compressed formats, but extends its capabilities to a much wider range.

In particular, the addition of native support for formats such as RAR and 7-Zip is great news. These formats, popular with users for their efficiency in compression and robustness in data retention, can now be opened, edited and managed directly within File Explorer, without the need for additional software. The integration of libarchive also makes it possible to create new archives in these formats, add or remove files from an existing archive, and take advantage of all the advanced features offered by RAR and 7-Zip.

Conclusions

Throughout this article, we have explored the many innovations and improvements introduced in File Explorer, one of the most widely used and fundamental Windows tools. From an aesthetic redesign to enhanced sharing functionality and expanded support for archive formats, Microsoft’s commitment to making the user experience increasingly smooth, intuitive and comprehensive is evident.

The integration of projects such as “libarchive” and harmonization with other applications, such as Outlook, demonstrate a clear vision: that of a File Explorer no longer just as a simple file manager, but as a central hub of productivity and digital asset management. As we await further updates and new features, we can only appreciate the efforts made so far and make the most of the new capabilities offered by File Explorer in its latest version.

Frequently Asked Questions about File Explorer

File Explorer is the built-in tool in Windows that allows you to navigate and manage the files and folders on your computer.
You can access File Explorer by clicking on the folder icon on the taskbar or by searching for “File Explorer” in the Windows search bar.
The latest update brought a number of aesthetic improvements, greater integration with other applications such as Outlook, and expanded support for archive formats through the integration of the “libarchive” project.
Sure! Although File Explorer now natively supports these formats, nothing prevents you from using external software if you prefer.
Select the file you want to share, right-click on it, and choose the “Share” option. From there, you will have several options, including emailing or sharing via a link.
Yes, File Explorer offers several customization options, such as the choice of view (large icons, details, list, etc.) and the ability to add or remove columns in the details view.
You can report problems or bugs directly to Microsoft through the “Feedback Hub,” an application built into Windows.
Windows has a version of File Explorer optimized for touch devices, but there is no specific mobile app. However, there are many third-party applications available for managing files on mobile devices.
Yes, File Explorer supports integration with various cloud services, such as OneDrive, but also with third-party solutions through special applications or plug-ins.
File Explorer updates are distributed as part of regular Windows updates. Make sure you have the latest patches and system updates installed to benefit from the latest news.

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