How to restore the full context menu to File Explorer in Windows 11

The full right-click context menu in File Explorer can be restored in Windows 11 with a specific code and an unusual and slightly tricky hack of the Windows Registry File.

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Image: Dilok Klaisataporn/Shutterstock

While Microsoft's primary purpose for pushing the Windows 11 update may be for increased security, there are a few features and user interface changes that former Windows 10 users will notice and may find more than a bit annoying. Some of these "improvements" can be changed with a simple adjustment to settings, others may require a full OS hack.

For example, the new right-click context menu in Windows 11 File Explorer is a notably different user experience than it was for users of Windows 10. For some users, that may be exactly what they want, but for other users, it may be characterized as a minor disaster. Fortunately, the full right-click context menu can be restored with a very specific code and a hack of the Windows 11 Registry File.

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How to restore the full right-click context menu in Windows 11

Under Windows 11's new user interface, right-clicking a file in File Explorer will call up an abbreviated version of the context menu, as shown in Figure A. Microsoft and the Windows 11 developers have decided these actions are most often chosen by users working with this menu.

Figure A

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In general, theses menu options may be all you need to access with the context menu, but if you need to access the full list of potential options you must click the "Show more options" link at the bottom of the list. Figure B shows you all the options you have for that file type, including third-party apps like Windows PowerToys.

Figure B

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To return to the Windows 10 version of right-click context menu functionality, we will have to edit the Windows 11 Registry File.

Disclaimer: Editing the Windows Registry file is a serious undertaking. A corrupted Windows Registry file could render your computer inoperable, requiring a reinstallation of the Windows operating system and potential loss of data. Back up the Windows Registry file and create a valid restore point before you proceed.

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First, open the registry editor by typing "regedit" into the Windows 11 search tool and selecting the appropriate app from the results. Then, navigate to this key using the left-hand window:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\CLSID

When this is accomplished, you should see something like Figure C.

Figure C

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Right-click the CLSID folder and select New | Key and then give the new key this codename (I suggest copy and paste):

{86ca1aa0-34aa-4e8b-a509-50c905bae2a2}

Now, right-click that new key you just made and select New | Key and then give that key the name:

InprocServer32

Figure D shows you what should be on the Registry Editor's screen.

Figure D

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This next part is a bit unusual so be careful. Double-click the Default settings item in the right-hand window under the new InprocServer32 key you just made to reveal its current default settings, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

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Notice that the current default setting is listed as "value not set." We have to change that, so click the OK button without typing anything into the Value Data box (this is the important part, leave that box blank).

If you do this correctly, as you can see in Figure F, that default value is now blank, which is what we are looking for.

Figure F

f-restore-context-menu-win11.jpg

Close the Registry Editor and restart your Windows 11 computer to complete the process.

Now, when you right-click a file name in Windows 11 File Explorer you will be presented with a full list of options in the context menu.

To switch back the default Windows 11 UI, just navigate back to the correct folder and delete the {86ca1aa0-34aa-4e8b-a509-50c905bae2a2} key from the registry file.

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