How to Enable File Explorer Compact View in Windows 11

This post shows students and new users steps to turn enable or disable File Explorer compact view when using Windows 11. File Explorer comes with a new default layout that adds extra padding between items making it easier to use on touch screen devices.

The extra padding adds additional spaces between items list which can increase the scroll especially when you have lots of folders and files, and may not be able to fit on a single view pane without a long scroll to the bottom.

If you’re not using a touch screen device, and have lots of folders in a view pane, you can restore the classic layout and enable compact mode. The compact mode fits a lot of items in a single view pane, by removing the extra padding and spaces between items in File Explorer.

The new Windows 11, when released generally to everyone, will come with many new features and enhancements that will work great for some while adding some learning challenges for others. Some things and settings have changed so much that folks will have to learn new ways to work with and manage Windows 11.

Although many new features have been added to Windows 11, compact view isn’t new. It was initially introduced in Windows 10.

To get started with enabling compact mode in Windows 11, follow the steps below:

How to turn on File Explorer compact view in Windows 11

As mentioned above, File Explorer compact mode allows for more items to fit in a small area as compared to the default layout.

Here is a screenshot of File Explorer default layout

windows 11 file explorer default layout

To enable compact mode, click on the ellipse (three dots in toolbar menu), then select Options.

windows 11 select options in file

On the View tab, under Advanced settings, select “Decrease space between items (compact view)“.

windows 11 file explorer compact mode enable

Once enabled, the result should be instant. Now File Explorer should reverse to the classic layout without the extra padding.

file explorer classic layout

How to disable File Explorer compact view in Windows 11

If you change your mind about using the classic layout in File Explorer, you can reverse the changes and go back to its default layout in Windows 11.

To do that, reverse the steps above by clicking on the ellipse (three dots) and select Options. Then uncheck the box for On the View tab, under Advanced settings, select “Decrease space between items (compact view)“.

windows 11 disable compact view in file

That’s it!


This post showed you how to enable or disable compact view in File Explorer. If you find any error above, please use the comment form below to report.

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