Windows 11 File Explorer Gets Several New Features in Sun Valley 2

In many ways, Windows 11 is an attractive operating system, but the new design overhaul comes at the cost of functionality. Out of the box, there’s a lot to complain about Windows 11, especially if you’re a power user and rely on features like taskbar drag and drop or folder previews in the File Explorer.

Microsoft recently shipped Windows 11 Build 22557 to Dev Channel testers and one of the biggest changes is the ability to drag and drop files like images or text onto an app in the taskbar to open files in the highlighted app. For example, you can drag and drop images into Outlook by simply dragging the statement to the Outlook icon.

In addition to the taskbar improvements, Microsoft is also restoring support for “folder previews” in File Explorer. Folder previews are a handy feature available in all previous versions of Windows and it’s something a lot of people use every day, so the fact that it was removed with Windows 11 irritated a lot of users.

File Explorer Folder Preview

Starting with Windows 11 Build 22557, it is now possible to preview files in folders in Explorer without opening the folder.

If you want to try the upcoming feature of Windows 11, install the preview version in a virtual machine and navigate to a directory in File Explorer containing folders containing media such as pictures or documents that you want to preview .

As shown in the screenshot above, you will instantly see a folder preview thumbnail if the media has been indexed by Windows.

File Explorer Quick Access now lets you pin files

File Explorer’s Quick Access view now allows you to pin files. Previously, Microsoft allowed users to pin folders, but the update expands support to include files.

Quick Access to Pinned File Explorer

Microsoft has created a new section above recent files to highlight pinned files.

File Explorer will also sync pinned and recent files from Office.com if your Microsoft account is signed in to the device. This includes OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams.

It will sync in real time, so if you pin or unpin Office.com files in Quick Access, it will also be reflected in Office.com and Office apps.

A new way to share content with Outlook

Microsoft is testing a feature called “Outlook Desktop Integration” that would allow you to share a local file with Outlook and compose an email directly from File Explorer. The email compose box and attachment will appear in the Explorer sharing window, so you can easily send emails from Explorer.

Integrating File Explorer with Outlook

At this time, the File Explorer Outlook integration only works for local files and it is not possible to share files stored in OneDrive folders.

Additionally, the Windows 11 share window also includes support for Microsoft 365 contacts and the list is automatically synced, making it easy to share the file through Outlook for Explorer.

OneDrive integration in File Explorer

Microsoft makes it easy to manage OneDrive right from File Explorer. As shown in the screenshot below, you can browse your OneDrive folders, watch sync status and quota usage in the explorer window.

OneDrive File Explorer integration

Storage is now shown in File Explorer without even opening OneDrive folders.

These changes are currently only available to testers. The general public will get new File Explorer features with Windows 11 Sun Valley 2, which is expected to start rolling out in the fall of this year.

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