I was watching a friend do some work on their PC and was struck by how their File Manager had a lot more useful buttons and features than what I have on my PC! Is there a way to customize File Manager in Windows?
There are dozens of replacement file browsing and management programs available for Windows. Before you start downloading and trying out third-party software, however, there’s a surprising amount you can do to customize File Manager too. Like so much of the Windows experience, File Manager hides most of its power and capabilities, leaving it up to the user to know how to enable or show the toolbars, ribbons, and other features. Fortunately, I can show you quite a bit about how to change and tweak the program so you can at least gain access to all these additional features. Whether you use them or try a different program, well, that’s up to you.
Also, if you’re a long-time Windows user, you might still be surprised that the “ribbon” style toolbar has become so pervasive across Windows software; many people think that those chunky toolbars are limited to Microsoft Word and maybe the rest of the Office suite. Not so! They’re all over the place. The trick is that you have to make them visible. Once you do, however, they’ll generally show up every time you subsequently open the program in question. Like File Manager.
HOW TO CUSTOMIZE FILE MANAGER
By default, the top portion of File Manager is pretty austere:
Quite a few users never really examine the top portion of this window, but notice it has icons in the titlebar itself, tabs, and a navigation toolbar that lets you move around the file system quite easily. There’s also a search box which can be quite useful.
Move your cursor over an element, like one of those title bar icons, and a tooltip will pop up explaining what that button does and even offering a keyboard shortcut if you prefer. Like this:
But move your eyes to the right side and there’s a rather ridiculously subtle button that can show the ribbon bar that’s hiding within File Manager. It’s a downward “V” adjacent to the question mark icon:
A click and…
SHOW RIBBON BAR IN FILE MANAGER
… the ribbon bar shows up in File Manager!
All of a sudden there are a lot more features and capabilities displayed for what you might have thought was a pretty modest and underpowered app. Heck, you can even uninstall a program with a single click. Handy!
But, as they say, there’s more. Go back to those mysterious buttons on the titlebar and there’s one that’s a black downward triangle. It can be hard to see, but the tooltip will help:
As shown, it’s the Customize Quick Access Toolbar button and a click produces a menu that offers the ability to remove, change, or add to the set of buttons on the titlebar:
Obviously, it’s useful to be able to get rid of buttons you’ll never use and add ones that you will – like Delete – but it also lets you show the Quick Access Toolbar below the Ribbon. Choose that and it pops down:
I’ve highlighted it so you can see where it landed. Personally, I’m not a fan, but you might like it and the nice, clean titlebar with no buttons added.
Don’t like it so much? No worries, click on that tiny black triangle again and you can move it back up to the default location:
Notice the “X” as a shortcut for deleting files or folders too.
THIRD-PARTY FILE MANAGERS FOR WINDOWS
If you still find this a bit dull and mundane, I get it. That’s why there are quite a few alternative file managers available for both Windows 10 and Windows 11. In fact, a search for “file manager” in the Microsoft Store yields, well, quite a few possibilities:
Fortunately not all 2000 matches are intended to replace the existing File Manager, but there are definitely quite a few to explore.
That’s it. I hope this helps you customize your File Manager as desired and/or leads you to a good third-party alternative that might fulfill your needs.
Helpful Tip: I’ve been writing about Windows for many years and have an extensive Windows 10 & Windows 11 help area. Please check it out to find lots of additional tutorials and guides while you’re here. Thanks!