Windows 11 launched with drastic interface changes, including parts of the OS that had been almost untouched for decades. Perhaps the most noticeable of these is File Explorer, which has moved away from its iconic ribbon-based UI to a more simplistic offering. As with any big change, many will be unhappy with this, which is why you’re going to show you how to restore the old Explorer with a ribbon in Windows 11.

The process to get the Windows 10 File Explorer back in Windows 11 is thankfully easier than some other tweaks. Expecting user demand, Microsoft allows you to get the Windows 10 File Explorer in Windows 11 with a relatively simple registry tweak. No third-party apps are required.

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That said, we are going to make things even easier for you by offering the option to use our pre-configured registry file to change it in just a few clicks. We recommend this second method if you’re strapped for time. If you’re a more technical user, however, we do think it’s a good idea to follow the first, manual method so you can get a better idea of how it works. Let’s get started:

How to Restore Classic File Explorer with Ribbon by Editing the Registry Manually

You can replace the Windows 11 File Explorer with the Windows 10 and earlier one via a single registry DWORD. All you really need to know is what to call it and where to put it. Thankfully, we’re here to guide you through that.

  1. Open Registry Editor

    Press the search icon on your taskbar and type “Registry Editor”, then click the top result.

    Windows 11 - Open Registry Editor

  2. Go to the “Shell Extensions” registry key and create a new key

    You can find the shell extensions key in Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell Extensions. Simply paste this into your address bar to navigate there.

    You can then right-click the “Shell Extensions” folder on the left-hand side and click “New > Key”.

    Windows 11 - Registry Editor - Shell Extensions - New - Key

  3. Name the New Key “Blocked”

     

    Windows 11 - Registry Editor - Shell Extensions - New - Key - Rename

  4. Open the “Blocked” Registry key and create a new String Value

    You can right-click any blank space in the main pane and select “New > String Value” to create it.

    Windows 11 - Registry Editor - Blocked - New - String Value

  5. Name the String value “{e2bf9676-5f8f-435c-97eb-11607a5bedf7}”

    You can copy and paste the string value from here to make things easier:

    {e2bf9676-5f8f-435c-97eb-11607a5bedf7}

    Windows 11 - Registry Editor - Blocked - New - String Value - Rename

  6. Double click the key and type <delete> in the “Value data” field to use the default modern File Explorer with command bar

    This is what you’d refer to as the Windows 11 File Explorer. Press “OK” to apply the changes. Restart your PC or log in and out for them to take effect.

    Windows 11 - Registry Editor - Blocked - String Value - Delete - Accept

  7. Double click the key and type <delete> in the “Value data” field to use the classic Windows 10 File Explorer in Windows 11

    Press “OK” to apply the changes. Restart your PC or log in and out for them to take effect.

    Windows 11 - Registry Editor - Blocked - String Value - Added - Accept

How to Quickly Restore the Windows 10 File Explorer in Windows 11 via Registry File

If you don’t have time for manual registry entries, you can restore the File Explorer ribbon via our pre-crafted .reg files. All you have to do is double-click them to apply the changes, like so:

  1. Download and extract the Windows 11 File Explorer registry files

    You can download them here. Simply right-click the zip file wherever you saved it and select “Extract All” to extract the contents.

    Windows 11 - Download Zip - Extract All

  2. Browse to your desired extraction location and click “Extract”

     

    Windows 11 - Download Zip - Extract All - Browse - Extract

  3. Double-click “Switch_To_Classic_File Explorer” to restore the old File Explorer in Windows 11

     

    Windows 11 - Switch to Classic

  4. Click “Run” on the security warning

     

    Windows 11 - Switch to Classic - Run

  5. Press “Yes” to the Registry Editor pop-up

     

    Windows 11 - Switch to Classic - Run - Yes

  6. Press “OK” to the success dialog

    Restart your PC or log in and out to apply the changes.

    If you’d like to go back to the modern Windows 11 File Explorer at any point, simply double-click the other registry file in the zip file and repeat the process.

    Windows 11 - Switch to Classic - Run - Yes - Accept

How to Restore the Old Windows 10 Volume Mixer in Windows 11

That closes up this tutorial on how to restore the old File Explorer in Windows 11. However, you may also want to get back the classic volume mixer by following our guide. It requires a third-party tool, but it’s still quite easy.

How to Change Startup Programs in Windows 11

While you’re customizing your install, you may also want to consider our guide on how to change Windows 11 startup programs. This can make your PC boot faster while ensuring the programs you want are ready as soon as you log in.

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