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File explorer improvements so far in Next Windows 10 major update

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While Windows 10 21H1 is the next feature update for Windows 10, Windows 10 version 21H2 is expected to be the one to bring major changes and improvements. Microsoft has been working to improve the File explorer experience as is reflected in the insider builds released to the Dev channel.

These File explorer changes may or may not be part of the final Windows 10 version 21H2 aka Sun Valley release. Windows 10 version 21H2 update may RTM in July/August 2021. This may be followed by a public release in September/October 2021 via cumulative update and enablement package route.

Windows 10 version 21H2 File explorer improvements so far:

File Explorer Layout Update:

The default layout of File Explorer adds additional padding between elements. For users who prefer a more information-dense layout, there is a setting in View Options called “Use compact mode,” which will restore the classic layout of File Explorer. The UX for toggling this setting is not final. The level of padding is designed for better consistency with modern (XAML) experiences. This should also make it easier to work with File Explorer when using a touch screen.

File Explorer Layout Update

New icons in File Explorer:

Microsoft has updated many of the system icons used throughout the Windows 10 File Explorer. 

New icons in File Explorer

Several changes, such as the orientation of the folder icons and the default file type icons, have been made for greater consistency across Microsoft products that show files. Notably, the top-level user folders such as Desktop, Documents, Downloads, and Pictures have a new design that should make it a little easier to tell them apart at a glance. And yes, the Recycle Bin icon has also been updated!

New Photos icons in File Explorer

New hard drive and Recycle Bin icons in File Explorer

As you can imagine, there are a lot of icons in Windows 10 and more icons will continue to get updated over time.

File explorer usability improvements:

  • File Explorer when renaming files, now support using CTRL + Left / Right arrow to move your cursor between words in the file name, as well as CTRL + Delete and CTRL + Backspace to delete words at a time, like other places in Windows.
  • In File Explorer if you right-click on a zipped OneDrive file that was set to online-only, you’ll now see an Extract All option, same as if the file was available locally on the PC.

Windows 10 users still expect more from Microsoft when it comes a functional and modern-looking File explorer. Hope, Microsoft can deliver on those expectations in 21H2 update.