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Get Back Windows 10 Ribbon UI in Windows 11 File Explorer

The File Explorer in Windows 11 comes with a new/modern ribbon interface with small icons (having no caption text underneath). The new ribbon interface may look bland and uncomfortable for new users who have upgraded to Windows 11 from Windows 10 or earlier.

Luckily, there are a couple of ways to get back the classic ribbon (Windows 10-style) interface in Windows 11 File Explorer.

Get Back Classic Ribbon in Windows 11 File Explorer

To restore the old/classic ribbon back in Windows 11 File Explorer, follow these steps:

For Windows 11 22H2

Method 1: Using Control Panel

Open Control Panel (control.exe) and then click on the up arrow icon at the top.

(Alternately, you can press the Alt + Up arrow on your keyboard.)

This launches Explorer with the ribbon interface.

Method 2: Replacing the Explorer Shell with the WinSxS copy

Note: There may be one or more side-effects of this method. For example, the method disables the Windows 11 fast context menu; you’ll see the classic context menu instead.

Option 1: Setting the Explorer shell manually
  1. Open an admin Command Prompt window.
  2. Type the following command:
    fsutil hardlink list c:\windows\explorer.exe

  3. Copy the “WinSxS” link path to the clipboard. In this case, the following is the hardlink for explorer.exe:

Next, set the explorer.exe hardlink as the Shell process.

  1. Start Regedit.exe and go to:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
  2. Double-click “Shell” and set its data as follows:

  3. Exit the Registry Editor.
  4. Restart Explorer via Task Manager, or log off and log back into your account.

You should now see the fully functional ribbon UI when you open a folder.

Credits: This method is based on the findings by Freddy Stratmanshow. Freddy found that running the following file as the first explorer.exe instance brings back the ribbon.


So, I tried setting the above explorer.exe as the shell process in the registry. And it worked!

Automate the above using REG file

Option 2: Setting the Explorer Shell Using a Script

To automate the procedure in “Option 1”, you can download and run the VBScript file set_winlogon_shell.vbs. The script finds the explorer.exe hardlink and updates the Winlogon\Shell registry value automatically.

  1. Save the script to a folder — e.g., D:\Scripts\set_winlogon_shell.vbs
  2. Open Task Manager, and click “Run new task.”
  3. Type the script file path.
  4. Enable the “Create this task with administrative privileges” checkbox.
  5. Click OK. The script runs and shows the following output:

If a future cumulative update changes the explorer.exe hard link, the Explorer shell may not load during login. In that case, simply launch Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc, and re-run the script.

Script Contents

Method 3: Replacing ExplorerFrame.dll

Another way to get back the ribbon interface in 22H2 is by replacing ExplorerFrame.dll with the 21H2 version.

This method has the following drawbacks, though:

Follow these steps to replace ExplorerFrame.dll

  1. Download ExplorerFrame.dll (21H2 version, zipped) and extract it to the desktop.
  2. Launch Command Prompt as TrustedInstaller.
  3. Right-click ExplorerFrame.dll (located on your desktop) and click “Copy as Path”.
  4. Switch to the Command Prompt window and run these commands:
    cd /d c:\windows\system32
    ren ExplorerFrame.dll ExplorerFrame-orig.dll

  5. Exit the Command Prompt window.
  6. Launch Task Manager and restart the Explorer shell process. For more information, see Method 2 in the article How to Restart Explorer.exe Cleanly in Windows 11.

The File Explorer ribbon UI is now restored in Windows 11 22H2!

A future cumulative update may restore the original ExplorerFrame.dll version. In that case, please re-do the above steps to get back the ribbon UI in Explorer.

File Info

Original Name	: ExplorerFrame.dll
Company		: Microsoft Corporation
Product		: Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
Prod version	: 10.0.22000.120
File version	: 10.0.22000.120 (WinBuild.160101.0800)
MachineType	: 64-bit
Copyright	: © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
MD5		: 2A52970886A3CFEE4F1B00A599A00757
SHA1		: 063D1D5CD4D79C29CA5C54159EA8F930014C41BB
SHA256		: FEA27EC6158831A8D9B1C2ECC1C7F41EAD7FE377CA8CE49925DB322F33A6A729
VT detection	: 0/71
VT link		:

(Last tested in Windows 11 22H2 OS Build 22621.674)

For Windows 11 21H2

Note: The following methods do not work in Windows 11 22H2.

Method 1

  1. Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe)
  2. Go to the following branch:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell Extensions
  3. Create a subkey called “Blocked” if it doesn’t exist and select it.
  4. In the right-pane, create a new string value (REG_SZ) named “{e2bf9676-5f8f-435c-97eb-11607a5bedf7}
  5. Exit the Registry Editor.
  6. Log off and log back into your user account, or restart the Explorer shell using Task Manager.

Alternately, to accomplish the above using command-line, open an elevated or admin Command Prompt and run this command:

reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell Extensions\Blocked" /v {e2bf9676-5f8f-435c-97eb-11607a5bedf7}

Here you go! The classic ribbon with colorful icons is back.

To reverse the changes and go back to the new/modern ribbon in Windows 11’s File Explorer, just delete the {e2bf9676-5f8f-435c-97eb-11607a5bedf7} string you added using the Registry Editor.

Method 2

In this method, we can disable a different GUID [{d93ed569-3b3e-4bff-8355-3c44f6a52bb5}  — File Explorer CommandBar View Adapter] which will disable the modern ribbon UI and bring back the classic ribbon.

This restores the classic ribbon in File Explorer.

Note that this method works on a per-user basis.

If you want to reverse the above setting, run this command:

reg delete "HKCU\Software\Classes\CLSID\{d93ed569-3b3e-4bff-8355-3c44f6a52bb5}" /f

After a logoff-login cycle, the above command restores the default ribbon UI in File Explorer.

(Last tested in Windows 11 Version 21H2 OS Build 10.0.22000.434)

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