The File Explorer in Windows 11 has been through a rough time. The redesign displaced familiar features; the right-click menu was truncated, and so were the options in the ribbons menu. A couple of updates later, things have improved and Windows 11 finally added tab support in File Explorer. But if you’re annoyed by the lack of consistency in the Windows 11 app, there’s a free, open-source and community-supported alternative to the File Explorer simply called the Files app.
Where to download the Files app for free
You can buy the Files app from the official Microsoft Store (also available for free from their website), and you can use it as a replacement for the Files Explorer. But before you do that, we suggest you create a backup of your computer and important files to be safe, given this is an app with permissions to directly edit all files on your computer.
The Files app has some great things going for it, starting with a dark mode that works independent of your Windows 11 theme. Like we mentioned above, the app has tabbed browsing built-in, and you can enable a feature that automatically opens all folders in new tabs.
The interface, by default, looks like a more polished version of the Windows 11 File Explorer app, but there’s a lot hiding beneath. You can enable a column view that looks similar to macOS Finder, and you can have a dual-pane view as well for quick file movement. The Files app also has quick file preview (something that required a specialised third-party app) so you can preview a photo without opening it in an app.
The Files app works with OneDrive and Google Drive by default, you can see all the files stored in your cloud storage account, and it can preview and unzip files. You can add support for other services like iCloud Drive and Dropbox.
You should spend some time poking around every corner of the Preferences, where you’ll find a lot of options for customising Files — something that’s just not possible in the File Explorer app. You can choose exactly what shows up in the sidebar (hiding extra devices and sections you don’t need), and if you’re willing to get a bit nerdy, you can define the colours for each section of the app and turn the Files app into something like the Finder in macOS (instructions here).