Enable Compact View in Windows 11's File Explorer for improved usability
Microsoft's soon-to-be-released Windows 11 operating system comes with a redesigned File Explorer application to manage files and folders on the operating system. Gone are the times of the ribbon and tabs, Microsoft decided to simplify the File Explorer application.
The main toolbar lists just nine options by default, some of which open menus that list options that were accessible directly before. Core File Explorer functions such as cut, copy and paste are still available as buttons, everything else is available in nested menus.
Microsoft changed the design of the drive, file and folder listing as well in Windows 11. While you do get the list of files and folders, sizes, types, modification dates and other information displayed to you when you open File Explorer, you may notice that there is lots of whitespace between items.
The following screenshot shows the default view mode of Windows 11's File Explorer:
Compare that with the Compact View mode that File Explorer supports as well:
If you want more files and folders to be displayed at the same time, you need to enable Compact View in File Explorer on Windows 11 to achieve that.
It is unclear why Microsoft decided to make the "other" mode the default. Was it for aesthetic reasons or to make file handling more comfortable for users of touch devices? The second option seems unlikely, as Microsoft could have implemented a check that would enable the larger view mode for touch device users and leave the more compact option enabled for everyone else.
Compact View is available for all Windows 11 users; it needs to be enabled though, and many users may miss out on that mode and endure the less usable mode in the process.
Do the following to enable Compact View:
- Open File Explorer.
- Select View > Compact View.
Not exactly rocket science, but if you never open the View menu, you will never stumble upon that option.
Tip: the view menu has options to display hidden files and file extensions for all files under the submenu "show" as well.
Some Windows 11 users may prefer the default view of File Explorer. It is certainly better for touch device users as it makes selecting files less error-prone. Non-touch device users on the other hand may prefer the compact file listing option as it makes it easier to work with files on the system as more as displayed without having to scroll.
It seems to me that designers and users are increasingly at odds when it comes to weighting design and usability.
Now You: Which mode do you prefer and why?Advertisement