Navigating File Explorer in Windows 11 feels like Microsoft ignored what users wanted in favor of what its engineers could add instead. Remember Windows Sets, the 2017 tabbed interface that incorporated File Explorer, Mail, Edge, and more? Users may not ultimately have wanted the Sets interface as a whole, but they’ve been asking for a tabbed File Explorer for years. Microsoft hasn’t given that to us, leaving File Explorer’s windowed organization largely unchanged.
Microsoft’s File Explorer and other Shell apps show off the rounded corners and Fluent Design principles that first emerged within Windows 10, evolving them to include “materials” like Mica. Microsoft also reworked some of xmeeting rzeszÃ³w the system icons, so the Pictures and Downloads folder, for example, feel fresh and modern.
For me, that’s where Windows 11’s design improvements stop. Icons are one thing. But Windows 11 also adds a row of shortcut icons to File Explorer that, even after using the OS for weeks, simply don’t effectively communicate their purpose. I can certainly figure out that the “scissors” icon means “cut” and that the “garbage can” icon means “delete,” but I still have trouble recognizing which icon represents “rename,” “paste,” and “share,” without specifically thinking about which icon represents which function.
Right-clicking on a file places these UI shortcuts at the top of the menu, where at least I can hover over them. But the option to, say, rename a file only appears there in that row of icons. Or does it? No, you can also scroll down to “Show more options” and get a second, expanded, Windows 10-like column of menu options. It all feels like Windows 11 was simply tacked on to it all.
The one place I feel that Microsoft got it right was in the expanded Snap View icons that appear when you hover your cursor over the “maximize window” shortcuts in the upper right-hand corners of window panes. Remember, Windows Snap allows you to drag a window into the sides or corner of the screen; they’ll then expand to fit that quadrant, allowing you to neatly organize up to four windows on your monitor. In Windows 11, you have more options: thin columns, wider columns, and so on. Snap is essentially a simplified version of the Fancy Zones app from Microsoft’s Power Tools, but it’s still a solid, useful addition to the Windows 11 user interface.
Windows 11’s behavior has also drastically improved when undocking a laptop or tablet, or connecting a second monitor. If you have an additional display or two docked to a Windows 10 laptop, you undoubtedly have your app and file windows arranged just so. After undocking, however, all of that careful organization dissolves into chaos, especially when redocking. Windows 11 now remembers where those windows live, minimizing them when undocking and then returning them to their proper locations when redocking. Bravo!
Microsoft Edge and the lack of browser choice
If Microsoft Edge were the dominant browser within the PC ecosystem, we’d call Microsoft’s browser “choice” behavior in Windows 11 monopolistic. As it is, it’s terribly sleazy.
But there are many good to excellent browsers in the market, and there’s absolutely no reason not to simply experiment with our recommended browsers to find one you’ll love
Microsoft Edge is now decoupled from the operating system, and so there aren’t any overtly Windows 11-ish enhancements to the browser. Internet Explorer has also disappeared, save for running within Edge as Internet Explorer Mode. As it is, Edge is Windows 11’s default browser, and that’s fine. Edge runs on the Chromium underpinnings, accepts Chrome plug-ins, and runs smoothly and efficiently. I often use it as my daily driver, with no regrets.
Microsoft makes this vastly more difficult than it needs to. In the Windows 11 Settings menu, Windows 11 now forces you to enter a default app for each file type: HTML, WebP, . XHT, HTTPS, and so on. There is simply no “all” option or checkbox to change your browser in one fell swoop-as if they were even necessary. It’s a steaming pile of unfriendly corporate behavior, and it stinks to high heaven.