How to Fix File Explorer Tabs Not Showing in Windows 11

The introduction of tabs in Windows 11’s File Explorer was a welcome addition for many users, offering a more intuitive and organized way to navigate files and folders. However, sometimes, these tabs might mysteriously disappear, leaving you frustrated and wondering how to get them back.

Don’t worry, this guide will delve into the potential causes and solutions for this issue, helping you restore your File Explorer tabs to their rightful place.

Why File Explorer Tabs Not Showing in Windows 11?

Several factors can lead to File Explorer tabs not appearing in Windows 11. Here are some common culprits:

Outdated System: The tabs feature was introduced in Windows 11 version 22H2. Ensure you’re running the latest update to benefit from this functionality.

Glitch or Bug: Occasional glitches or bugs can temporarily affect File Explorer’s behavior.

Incorrect Settings: Some settings related to File Explorer might be inadvertently disabled, preventing the tabs from displaying.

Corrupted System Files: In rare cases, corrupted system files can interfere with File Explorer’s functionality.

Third-Party Software: Certain software, like third-party file managers, can sometimes conflict with File Explorer, causing issues with tabs.

Fix File Explorer Tabs Not Showing in Windows 11

Now that we understand the potential causes, let’s explore how to fix them:

1. Check Your Windows Version

  1. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog.
  2. Type winver and press Enter.
  3. Check the version number. If it’s not 22H2 or later, download and install the latest update from Windows Settings.

2. Restart File Explorer

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. Under the “Processes” tab, locate “Windows Explorer.”
  3. Right-click on it and select “Restart.”
  4. This restarts the File Explorer process, potentially resolving temporary glitches.

3. Enable Tabs in File Explorer Options

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click the three-dot menu in the top-right corner.
  3. Select “Options.”
  4. Go to the “General” tab.
  5. Ensure the checkbox next to “Launch folder windows in separate tabs” is ticked.
  6. Click “Apply” and “OK.”

4. Run System File Checker

  1. Open Command Prompt as Administrator.
  2. Type sfc /scannow and press Enter.
  3. This utility scans for and repairs corrupt system files that might be causing issues.

5. Check for Software Conflicts

  1. Temporarily disable any third-party file management or customization software.
  2. See if the tabs reappear after disabling. If so, consider uninstalling or finding alternatives that don’t conflict with File Explorer.

6. Clear File Explorer Cache

Some users report success with clearing the File Explorer cache:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click the three-dot menu and select “Options.”
  3. Go to “General” and click “Clear” next to “Clear File Explorer history.”

If you’re comfortable with advanced settings, consider using tools like ViveTool to force enable File Explorer tabs (disclaimer: use at your own risk).

7. Reinstall Windows 11

If none of the above steps work, consider reinstalling Windows 11. However, this is a last resort due to potential data loss and time investment. Back up your important files before proceeding.


By understanding the potential causes and following the troubleshooting steps mentioned above, you should be able to resolve the issue of File Explorer tabs not showing in Windows 11. Remember, start with the simpler solutions first and work your way up to more complex ones. Hopefully, this guide equips you with the knowledge and tools to navigate your files with ease once again.

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