June 23, 2022

Windows 11’s new “tabs” feature apparently reduces File Explorer’s RAM usage

Windows 11 finally supports tabs in File Explorer with Sun Valley 2 (version 22H2) expected to launch in the fall. Support for browser-like tabs in File Explorer finally makes it easier for users to switch between different windows. In addition to tabs, File Explorer also gets a cluttered new free navigation sidebar.

Microsoft is pushing the new File Explorer to Windows 11 in Beta and Dev Channel. The new tabs feature, which is enabled by default, allows you to easily switch between different windows. In other words, you don’t need to open new instances of Explorer every time you want to browse multiple folders or directories at the same time.

Compared to a full-fledged new window, a new tab in File Explorer uses minimal memory. We have observed this behavior in our tests and users have also reported similar results. For example, if you launch a new tab, it will only add a few megabytes to the existing File Explorer process.

File Explorer tabs in Windows 11

In fact, File Explorer’s memory usage is only increased by 1MB. This is especially useful if you are used to opening multiple instances/windows of File Explorer. By opening tabs, you can reduce resource usage while still being productive.

Although the update is being rolled out gradually, there is still a chance that Microsoft will make further performance improvements to File Explorer. Everyone will immediately benefit from this feature in Windows 11 22H2 when it launches to the general public in the fall.

Microsoft is apparently testing this new File Explorer with a few users on Windows 11 22H2 or newer. According to the company, the file explorer with tabs and navigation sidebar will start rolling out to a wider user base in the coming weeks.

While tab support promises better performance, File Explorer’s new navigation panel reduces clutter.

File Explorer sidebar

As you can see in the screenshot above, the new updated File Explorer layout for the sidebar makes it easy for users to navigate to the directories of interest. It provides quick access to pinned and frequently used folders and OneDrive cloud profiles that have already been added to Windows.

Microsoft wants to reduce clutter in File Explorer and make room for features like OneDrive. As a result, known Windows folders are no longer displayed under This PC and the focus is now only on hardware drives.

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