File Explorer almost had a tabbed interface. Almost. It was a feature that lots of users were looking forward to but it never made it out of the beta versions of Windows 10. File Explorer can run multiple instances but it does so by opening a new window. When you double-click a folder to open it, the default File Explorer behavior is to open it in the same window. If you’d like to open folders in a new File Explorer window, there are two things you can do.
Accidentally closing a File Explorer window when you need to keep it open? There’s a way to prevent it.
Open folder in new File Explorer window
This method works on the fly. You can pick and choose which folder will open in a new window. All you have to do is hold down the Shift key when you double click a folder. Doing so will open it in a new File Explorer window, much like a link would open in a new browser window in most modern web browsers. It’s an easy enough key to remember if you correlate it with a browser’s behavior. You can also access this option by holding down the Shift key and right-clicking a folder.
Change default File Explorer behavior
If you’d like any and all folders that you open to always open in a new File Explorer window, you can modify its default behavior. Open File Explorer and go to the View tab. Click the Options button at the very right. Click the ‘Change folder and search options’ option. In the Folder Options window that opens, go to the General tab. Under the Browse folders section, select the ‘Open each folder in its own window’ option. That will do the trick. Now, you no longer need to hold down the Shift button. Instead, you can double-click any folder and it will open in a new File Explorer window.
If you decide to change the default behavior, you should do so with a little caution. You might end up opening one too many File Explorer windows and it will eventually drag your system down.
The Shift key is the way to go since it affords flexibility. You can open a folder in a new window when you need to, or open it in the same window. The option will always be there. If you change the default behavior, one of these options goes away.
Tabs as a feature for File Explorer have been shelved indefinitely. There is no telling if Microsoft will ever pick up the idea again.