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.

get back old classic ribbon windows 11

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.

restore ribbon 22h2 - control panel up arrow method

(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

    restore ribbon 22h2 - winsxs explorer.exe find hardlink

  3. Copy the “WinSxS” link path to the clipboard. In this case, the following is the hardlink for explorer.exe:
    \Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-explorer_31bf3856ad364e35_10.0.22621.608_none_b3fd0d5042b63bbd\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:
    C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-explorer_31bf3856ad364e35_10.0.22621.608_none_b3fd0d5042b63bbd\explorer.exe

    restore ribbon 22h2 - winsxs explorer.exe method

  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.

C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-explorer_31bf3856ad364e35_10.0.22621.608_none_b3fd0d5042b63bbd\explorer.exe

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

Automate the above using REG file

  • Download w11-ribbon-enable-disable.zip (Contains ribbon-enable.reg and ribbon-disable.reg to enable and disable the ribbon UI. **The explorer.exe path in the REG files is hard-coded for version 22621.608.)
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.
    set winlogon shell - winsxs explorer.exe
  5. Click OK. The script runs and shows the following output:
    set winlogon shell - winsxs explorer.exe

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:

  • The Delete, Permanently Delete, and Paste options would be dimmed out permanently. (Thanks to Freddy and Valerio for noticing this.)
  • Running the System File Checker will restore the original version of ExplorerFrame.dll

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
    copy <PASTE-FILE-PATH-HERE>

    explorerframe.dll rename

  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!



restore ribbon 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		: https://www.virustotal.com/gui/file/fea27ec6158831a8d9b1c2ecc1c7f41ead7fe377ca8ce49925db322f33a6a729/detection

(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}
    get back old classic ribbon windows 11
  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.

get back old classic ribbon windows 11

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.

  • From a Command Prompt window, execute this command:
    reg add "HKCU\Software\Classes\CLSID\{d93ed569-3b3e-4bff-8355-3c44f6a52bb5}\InprocServer32" /d "" /f
  • Log off and log back in for the change to take effect. Or restart the Explorer shell.

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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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

22 thoughts on “Get Back Windows 10 Ribbon UI in Windows 11 File Explorer”

  1. Is there a fix for the new 22H2 update? This is crazy and I hate the new ribbon. It also affects the look of the print queue down by the lower right when printing.

    Reply
  2. And again Microsoft decides how I need to see the ribbon in the file explorer.
    If they want to make something default, that is OK, but blocking me from changing it the way I want to have it……

    Reply
  3. You do realize this method stops working after you apply Oct 22 CU (or later), since it includes the 22H2 version? Unless you copy it back every month.

    Reply
    • Yes.

      Excerpt from article:

      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.

  4. Unfortunately, when you run “sfc /scannow”, the dll file is restored.
    So the you need to protect the file from replacement, otherwise the method mentioned in the post will not work.

    Reply
  5. I checked task manager to see the difference between the command line for the instance created by the control-panel method, (then closed that instance). Using task manager I ended explorer task which gives a blank screen (except for the task manager). start a new task using that command line and it works. Each instance of file-explorer now has the old ribbon.
    BUT, this also knocks out “explorer patcher” so the task bar reverts to the new style, which is fine if you like the new task bar. Perhaps someone who knows a lot more than me can make use of this info and fix both.

    Reply
  6. This the hard link command line
    C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-explorer_31bf3856ad364e35_10.0.22621.608_none_b3fd0d5042b63bbd\explorer.exe

    Reply
    • This worked for me. But it reverts at least once each day and I have to end and start the task again. What would cause it to revert to the windows 11 menu.

  7. For those who really want the old ribbon..
    create a batch file in notepad something like this:

    c:
    cd c:\windows
    taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
    start "" C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-explorer_31bf3856ad364e35_10.0.22621.608_none_b3fd0d5042b63bbd\explorer.exe
    exit 0

    Save to the desktop or wherever.
    Create another one replacing the long command with:

    start "" C:\Windows\explorer.exe

    Save as “Export.bat” or whatever you like.

    The first batch will end explorer and open it again only now the ribbon will appear in all instances when you open them.

    The second batch will do the same in reverse, restoring the new ribbon. You can add the first batch to the “startup” folder, and it works fine. Classic Shell works fine with both. The only downside for me is that “explorer patcher” gets kicked out with the old ribbon which means there is no context menu on the taskbar on right-click. But it is easy enough to swap back and forth using the batch files.

    It’s clunky but works for now!

    Reply
  8. Thanks at least something happened. I have changed the registry as per internet instructions but nothing happened to the ribbon after restart. With this method of using up arrow starting at control panel. No change until arrived at Desktop. Then the wonderful win 10 ribbon appeared. But it didn’t appear in any other folders.

    Reply
  9. Get Microsoft to revert to the old faithful Win 10 Explorer Ribbon.

    None of the above work satisfactorily now. What did they think that they were doing? A good example because we can rather than making improvements.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Reply

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