Windows 10 Has a Secret UWP Version of File Explorer
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With the arrival of the Windows Store in Windows 8 and its refreshing in Windows 10, users of Microsoft’s OS have had two sources for downloading programs. You can either download standard desktop software from various websites, or grab Store apps for a streamlined experience. While most people are used to normal programs, tablet and touch users might prefer Store apps thanks to their simpler interfaces.

Even if you you don’t consider the File Explorer as an app that needs a replacement, you might want to check out the hidden Universal Windows Platform (UWP) version of the File Explorer. While it makes sense that Microsoft would make a UWP app for the tool, it’s currently inaccessible unless you know where to look.

Thankfully, it’s not hard to find. On a computer with the Creators Update, open a File Explorer window, then click inside the address bar. There, paste in this location to open the app version of the File Explorer:

explorer shell:AppsFolder\c5e2524a-ea46-4f67-841f-6a9465d9d515_cw5n1h2txyewy!App

The modern version of the File Explorer comes complete with a standard UWP aesthetic. It’s a bit limited, as you can only browse drives on your computer, not network locations. Copying and pasting is clunky, and there’s no Quick Access menu which makes browsing slower.

Thus this isn’t a File Explorer you’ll want to use regularly. We also experienced some hanging when testing the app, so it’s not finished or stable. It’s still interesting to check out, though, as a future version could become the standard way for browsing files on Windows.

If you’d like to make a shortcut to this so you don’t have to paste the above every time, right-click on a blank spot of your desktop and choose New > Shortcut. Paste in the line above for the location, then press Next and give it a name. Then you’ll have quick access whenever you want to try it again.

Not sure what all this talk about apps is? Check out our explanation of the Windows app terminology.

Did you know this was hiding inside Windows? Is there any chance you’d use it over the default File Explorer? Let us know what you thought of this in the comments!

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  1. Dave Clark
    June 1, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    I drag and drop the My PC icon from the Start Menu onto the Desktop and instantly get a better and less clunky File Explorer than this. I point it out to everyone I show Windows 10 to. Still, I have a Shortcut to this on my Desktop, just for something to play with, if nothing else. And, the My PC icon works on any recent version of Windows.

  2. Davin Peterson
    May 31, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Note that this only works on builds after the Anniversary Update.

  3. LordDaman
    May 31, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    It's not really a secret per say. That's the file manager from windows phone 10. Why it's included in the desktop version is beyond me, but it's nothing new

  4. Ian
    May 31, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Why even mention this if it is both difficult to use and inferior to the already feature-poor native file explorer? Seems like a waste of cypberspace.

  5. Fred Biles
    May 31, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    No, I didn't know this was hiding inside Windows. There's no chance that I'd use it though. Neither it nor File Explorer are feature rich. I use SpeedCommander 16 Pro as a replacement but there are several excellent alternatives out there with many more features and a higher level of sophistication.