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Windows 8 has added the ribbon UI in Windows file explorer which distinguishes it from the earlier versions of Windows Explorer. The Ribbon UI provides many useful tabs that help you perform your task easily. It comes with the File, Home, Share, View, Manage and Search tabs that offer one click access to set various properties of your object file, item or folder.

In this article, we will discuss about customizing the Ribbon interface to make it more productive and easy to use for ourselves.

We will be using the group policy editor to customize the Ribbon interface in Windows 8. Before proceeding further, you will have to open the group policy editor (Run –> gpedit.msc) and go to the following tree:

  • User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> File Explorer.
  • Double Click File Explorer.

Open local group policy editor

Hide the Ribbon in File Explorer

Starting with the most basic issue related to the Ribbon, many users have become comfortable with the ribbon interface, however, others are not ready to admit its presence in the file explorer. So, for all those who dislike ribbon bar, they can hide the ribbon by selecting

  •   Start File Explorer With Ribbon Minimized.

Minimize the Ribbon Bar in File Explorer

This policy setting lets you specify whether the ribbon bar should appear in the minimized or full mode when you open File Explorer. By default, it displays the ribbon bar in full mode. Select ‘Enable’ to open the file explorer with minimized ribbon bar.

We can also minimize the ribbon by pressing ‘Ctrl + F1‘, but this will minimize it for one time only.

Minimize the Ribbon Bar in File Explorer

Disable Thumbnail display

This feature replaces your image thumbnail with an icon. By default, File Explorer displays thumbnails images of  different items in libraries and on the local computer. This policy setting lets you display the icon image instead of thumbnails.

  • Enable ”Turn off display of thumbnails and display only icons’.

Turn off thumbnail display

Restrict Access to Folder Options

By default, you can set the folder options and properties by clicking on the Options button in the View tab. We can restrict access to folder options using the group policy editor.

  • Enable ‘Do not allow folder options to be opened from the Options Button in the View Tab’

Once enabled, it will display an error message if anyone tries to click and open the Folder Options.

disable folder option view in file explorer

Disable the Advanced Security Button

When you select any file or folder in Windows Explorer, you will notice that Advanced Security button is enabled. Anyone can change the security settings using this button. However, you can disable this button by enabling the following in group policy editor:

‘Removes the Security tab from File Explorer’

disable advanced security button in file explorer

Notice that the advanced security button has been disabled.

disable advanced security button in file explorer

Disable Search Suggestions

File explorer pop-ups search suggestions as you type into the Search Box. You can view also search history in ‘Recent Searches’. If you dislike the suggestions or do not want file explorer to keep a track of your searches then you can enable the following:

Turn off display of recent search entries in File Explorer’

Turn off search entries in file explorer

Remove File Explorer Default Context Menu

This feature really takes away control from you when it comes to open, rename, compress or change properties of any item. Windows users are too good at right-clicking an item and make quick changes. If you enable this setting, menus do not appear when you right-click the desktop or when you right-click the items in File Explorer.

You can disable the context menu by enabling:

‘Remove File Explorer Default Context Menu’

Turn Details Pane on or off

You can customize the display of Explorer frame pane by clicking on File Explorer-> Explorer Frame Pane.

This policy setting shows or hides the Details and Preview Pane in File Explorer.

If you enable this policy setting and configure it to hide the pane, the  selected Pane in File Explorer is hidden and cannot be turned on by the user. If you enable this policy setting and configure it to show the pane, the selected pane is always visible and cannot be hidden by the user. You can turn on or off either navigation pane by the following group policy settings:

  • ‘Turn on or off Details pane’.
  • ‘Turn on or off Preview pane’.

Turn off Navigation Pane in File Explorer

These settings are especially useful for people whose computers are being used by multiple people or for systems administrators who have to configure these settings and restrictions on all the computers connected to the network. The only difference for system admins will be that they will have to use the domain group policies instead of local policies to apply the policies across the whole network.

Overall, you will find these tips and settings useful for customizing your Windows Explorer ribbon interface.

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