Don’t like the look of the expanded navigation pane in File Explorer? Here’s how to turn it off.
When you’re looking through your folders in File Explorer, a column on the left of the area will show the current folder’s hierarchy. There’s an option within Windows to have this panel automatically expand the folders you go into, so you can see where you are in your file system at any given time. And while some people find it useful, others may not like it.
Here we’ll go through how to stop Windows 10 from automatically expanding the files in the side panel as you go through your folders.
How to Stop the Windows Navigation Pane From Expanding to the Current Folder via File Explorer
The easiest way to stop File Explorer from showing the current folder hierarchy in the side panel is to toggle the option in the panel itself.
- Open File Explorer in any folder on your computer.
- A column on the left will display the hierarchical tree of your drives and folders.
- Right-click on some blank space on the navigation pane and uncheck the Expand to current folder option.
If you instead see a long list of options, there’s a good chance you right-clicked on a folder or category within the side panel. Ensure that your mouse isn’t highlighting any entries and try right-clicking again.
How to Turn Off Windows Explorer Expanding to the Current Folder via the Folder Options
Alternatively, you can do it by changing folder options.
- In File Explorer, under the View tab, click on Options on the far right.
- A Folder Options window should pop up.
- Under the View tab, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the Advanced settings section to the Navigation pane sub-section.
- Uncheck the Expand to open folder option.
- Click OK.
How to Stop the Windows Navigation Pane From Expanding to the Current Folder via the Registry
If for some reason the above methods fail to accomplish what you want, or they switch back when you restart your PC, try editing the Windows registry.
However, you should know that changing registry items can make your PC unstable. It’s advised to back up your registry before tweaking it.
- Click on the Start menu and type “regedit.” Click on the option that appears to open the Registry editor. Alternatively, you can press Win + R, type “regedit,” and click OK.
- Navigate to the following location:
- Look for the DWORD NavPaneExpandToCurrentFolder.
- Double click it and change its value data to zero.
- Close out of the registry editor.
You may need to sign out of your account and back in again to see the changes take effect.
Explore Windows 10’s File Explorer the Way You Want
This is just a tiny sliver of what you can accomplish with Windows 10 File Explorer. There’s a lot more you can do to make it look and behave the way you want, either for productivity or preference. Know your options to make your experience better.