Microsoft is trimming the fat in the user interface, but you can bring it back in Registry Editor.
When’s the last time you used File Explorer’s “Display file icon on thumbnails” option? How about the Sharing wizard? If the answer is “never,” you’re not alone. Microsoft has taken some usage data and decided to trim down the Folder Options in File Explorer for Windows 11. The curtailed options are coming in build 23481, currently in the Insider Preview Build. But if you’re especially attached to any of them, you’ll be able to bring them back with some registry tweaks.
According to the Windows Insider Blog (spotted by Tom’s Hardware), the Folder Options settings being removed are as follows:
Hide Folder Merge conflict.
Always show icons, never thumbnails.
Display file icon on thumbnails.
Display file type information on Folder tips.
Hide protected OS files.
Show drive letters.
Show popup description for Folder and Desktop items.
Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color.
Use sharing wizard.
Exactly how infrequently these settings are used wasn’t shared by Microsoft.
As a general principle, new operating systems (or the forever update model Microsoft seems half-committed to) should offer more options rather than fewer. One of my most simple measurements for improvement from version to version is being able to do away with third-party tools I had previously relied on because they’re now baked into the OS. Requiring a dive into the Registry Editor to re-enable an option you previously relied upon, even if you’re in a minority of users, seems counter to that kind of improvement.
That said, these changes aren’t set in stone. The Insider Preview Build is used to test precisely this kind of minutia, and the power users that provide feedback via that channel are exactly the kind of people who might object to some or all of these changes. We’ll see if they make it into final builds later this year. Or perhaps we won’t see if Microsoft’s evaluation of how infrequently these options are actually used is accurate.