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Windows is finally fixing a key File Explorer flaw

Microsoft Windows 11 old File Explorer iconsImage: Mark Hachman / IDG

It only took three years, but Microsoft is finally fixing one of its annoyances in Windows 11’s File Explorer.

The “show more options” double menu? No, unfortunately not. But Microsoft is at least adding explanatory labels to the icons within File Explorer, now describing what they do rather than forcing you to parse them like some unknown hieroglyphs.

Microsoft released Build 26058 in the Windows 11 Canary and Dev Channels on Wednesday, meaning that, technically, you may never see this change released to your PC. Fingers crossed! Other features being added include a change to the Widgets menu, a change to the lock screen, and some accessibility improvements.

A long-overdue change in File Explorer

Hearken back to my 2021 review of Windows 11, and I had this to say:

“Windows 11 also adds a row of shortcut icons to File Explorer that, even after using the OS for weeks, simply don’t effectively communicate their purpose. I can certainly figure out that the ‘scissors’ icon means ‘cut’ and that the ‘garbage can’ icon means ‘delete,’ but I still have trouble recognizing which icon represents ‘rename,’ ‘paste,’ and ‘share,’ without specifically thinking about which icon represents which function.”

Since then, of course, I’ve figured it out. But if someone migrates from Windows 10 to Windows 11, it’s not exactly intuitive to figure out what the Rename icon, for example, actually does. Adding one-word descriptions (why weren’t these there before?) just solves the problem.

Mark Hachman / IDG

More Widgets

Microsoft is also testing tweaks to the Widgets board. If you miss a notification within Widgets (do people really look for notifications within Widgets?) you’ll see a small badge on the Taskbar. It’s not clear how that’s new, given that my Taskbar has a small badge on it right now.

What is different, however, is that Microsoft appears to be dividing the Widgets menu in two, via a new navigation pane on the left. There, you’ll have a choice to pick between “My Widgets” — the widgets you want to see — and “Discover,” aka the widgets Microsoft wants you to see. Microsoft is also adding more, detailed information to the Windows lock screen.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Naturally, Microsoft is asking you for feedback on these, to see how they could be further improved.

Finally, Microsoft is making some tweaks to its accessibility features. The most interesting change is a “crosshairs” of sorts that will better show where the mouse is in Windows 11.

Mark Hachman / IDG

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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