Windows File Explorer gets nostalgic speed boost thanks to one weird bug

A glitch that makes the lives of users better? Where do we sign?

An exploit for a bug in Windows appears to increase the performance of File Explorer in Microsoft's flagship operating system.

While reports of bugs in Windows rarely raise an eyebrow nowadays, one that actually appears to improve the experience for users – or reminds them of the days before the operating system became bloated with gewgaws and gadgets – is notable indeed.

Spotted over the weekend by Xitter user @VivyVCCS, the hack is triggered by a swift jab of the F11 key to switch File Explorer in and out of full-screen mode. According to the post – and judging by the embedded video – load performance is improved markedly.

The Register asked Microsoft to comment on the hack, but the company has yet to formulate a response. In the meantime, we tried it on Windows 10 and 11 boxes. There wasn't much difference on Windows 10, although redraw times between folders and drives were noticeably improved with Windows 11.

Then again, it was Windows 11 running on the Windows Dev Kit 2023. Any performance improvement over that hardware's wading-through-treacle experience would be very noticeable.

The user who published the bug noted problems with the navbar after triggering. However, we'd argue that the speed increase is probably worth the potential annoyance.

Both our Windows 11 machine and the user's are running build 25941 of Windows 11. This is a Canary Channel build released last week and so very much at the bleeding edge.

Microsoft does not always detail what has changed in Canary Channel builds unless there is a new feature. "Making File Explorer less sluggish" clearly doesn't count. However, the Windows team has been poking through the code to deal with launch reliability and fixing issues around the File Explorer context menu and command bar dropdowns.

The software behemoth has yet to share its plans concerning the bug, and we imagine it will be quietly fixed in a future operating system build. Hopefully at the same time as adding a bit of performance back into the tool.

In the meantime, users getting nostalgic flashbacks from a not-so-slow File Explorer could do worse than skip back five years to when Microsoft released the source code for the original File Manager.

Sure, there is a distinct lack of bells and whistles. But sometimes a speedier File Explorer just won't cut it for Windows users seeking simpler times. ®

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