Enable or Disable Compact Mode in File Explorer (Windows)

File Explorer is the default file management tool in Windows OS. It enables the user to perform all kinds of file management operations, such as creating or deleting files and folders or moving or copying files from one place to another. Starting with one of the builds in Windows 10 and Windows 11, Microsoft changed the default File explorer layout and added more padding between elements. This post will share how you can enable or disable compact mode in File Explorer in Windows.

Enable or Disable Compact Mode in File Explorer

What Is Compact Mode in Windows Explorer?

The update was to make the layout look more uniform and help touch-based devices. If you don’t like the new look, you can revert to the old windows compact file explorer layout.

Compact Mode was the default layout in Windows before Windows build 21337 updates. This design comprises a minimal structure with elements stacked to each other at a close distance, making it a compact view and presenting more data on a single screen.

In this article, you will learn how to enable the compact mode in File Explorer using two different methods:

  • Using Folder Option
  • Using Registry Option

You will need admin permission to change the registry values. Make sure to create a System Restore. It will allow us to roll back to a working state if you make a major mistake with registry editing.

1] Using Folder Option

change folder options and settings in Windows

  1. Open Windows Explorer by pressing Windows Key + E.
  2. Click on the View tab, select Options, then choose Change Folder and Search Options.
  3. In the Folder Windows, go to View Tab.
  4. In the Advanced settings list, find and check the Use Compact Mode

use compact mode folder option Windows

If you want to disable the Compact Mode, revisit the steps and uncheck the Use Compact Mode option.

2] Using Registry Option

UseCompactMode Registry Windows

  • Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog box.
  • Type Regedit in the box and hit enter.
  • Navigate to the following location:
  • On the right-hand side window, search for
  • If you can’t find it, right-click in black space, create a DWORD file, and name it as UseCompactMode.
  • Double click to open the file and set the value to 1.
  • Restart your system to see the changes.

If you want to disable the compact view again, just set the value of UseCompactMode to 0.

Which method should I use, folder option or registry editor?

 First, you should try the folder option as it is a simple method, and if for some reason you can’t find the Use Compact Mode option there, then you have to use the registry method.

You should not use the registry method at first as it is not recommended to mess with Registry settings in Windows unless necessary.

How Do I Change Windows Explorer to Classic View?

To enable classic view in Windows Explorer, you would need to install an application called Classic Shell.

  • Download the Classic Shell software from here.
  • Click on the downloaded file and install the software.
  • Once installed, it will replace your Start Menu with an old and classic layout.
  • To replace your Windows Explorer, go to the Control Panel and select the Folder.
  • In the Folder Options window, go to the view tab and check Always show menus.
  • Open File Explorer; in the menu bar, go to View Tab > Toolbar > Select Classic Explorer Bar.

If you want further customization, you can go to Start > Settings > Classic Start Menu and do many customizations to meet your layout needs.

What is the difference between Windows Explorer and File Explorer?

Though the name is different, they both are the same thing. Windows Explorer, in Windows 10 and Windows 11, is called File Explorer.

How Do I Change the Default Folder in File Explorer from Quick Access to My PC?

You can change the default folder that opens up when you click on the file explorer option in Windows by following the methods below:

  • Open File Explorer and click on the File tab located on the top-left corner.
  • Select Change Folders and Search Option.
  • In the general tab, under Open File Explorer to option, select This PC from the dropdown.

Why does my File Explorer keep opening on its own?

Sometimes due to some error in Windows, the File Explorer keeps opening again and again on its own. To fix this, you would have to open the task manager and manually end the File Explorer task.

If the issue persists, then there might be a virus or malware causing the problem. Do a full scan of your system in your antivirus and restart your system. This will solve your problem.

On my Windows laptop, everything just expanded (the whole screen is zoomed in). How do I get back to normal?

This error occurs due to a change in display settings on your system; you have to set your resolution high to fix this.

  1. Right-click on the desktop screen and select the Screen Resolution option.
  2. From the Resolution Window, change your resolution to your desired amount and click apply.
  3. The higher the resolution, the smaller your icons, and folders will appear and vice-versa.

I hope the post was easy to follow, and you were able to Enable Disable Compact Mode in File Explorer on Windows.

Nandini Keshri
Nandini Keshri is a student, writer, and tech enthusiast. When not writing about tech, she loves to write poetry and explore the world.


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