Is Your File Explorer Sidebar Missing? How to Get it Back

Simple solutions to get your sidebar back on File Explorer

by Loredana Harsana
Loredana Harsana
Loredana Harsana
Managing Editor
Loredana is a passionate writer with a keen interest in PC software and technology. She started off writing about mobile phones back when Samsung Galaxy S II was... read more
Reviewed by Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Windows Server & Networking Expert
After moving away from the corporate work-style, Alex has found rewards in a lifestyle of constant analysis, team coordination and pestering his colleagues. Holding an MCSA Windows Server... read more
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  • File Explorer left pane missing occurs after a Windows Update.
  • Changing the configurations on File Explorer might remove the sidebar from File explorer.
  • Resizing the File Explorer window can easily troubleshoot this problem.
file explorer sidebar missing

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Since Microsoft rolled out Windows 11, users have reported errors with File Explorer. One such error includes Windows File Explorer Sidebar missing.

In this article, we’ll provide you with the necessary steps you can take to help you successfully resolve this error. 

Why is the File Explorer left pane Missing?

The Windows File Explorer left pane missing is usually triggered after a Windows update. However, other reasons might cause the file explorer left pane to disappear. Some of them include the following:

  • File Explorer settings: Like all applications, File explorer has settings that control the app’s appearance. If you’ve tampered with such configurations, it might be the reason why the Windows file explorer sidebar is missing.
  • Corrupt Windows files: If your PC’s system files get corrupted, you’ll run into operational errors, which can cause the file explorer left pane to disappear.
  • Windows Upgrade: If you just upgraded your PC from a lower Windows version, the File Explorer sidebar might disappear.

How to get my File Explorer sidebar if it’s missing

Before we attempt more advanced troubleshooting steps, here are some quick tips you can test:

  • Close File Explorer and restart the application.
  • Restart your PC.
  • Resize File Explorer (maximize) window.

If these steps couldn’t fix the File Explorer sidebar missing, here are some advanced troubleshooting steps you can try:

1. Change the File Explorer settings

  1. Press the Windows + R keys to open File Explorer and click on View.
  2. Select Show and check the option of the Navigation pane.enable navigation to open missing sidebar
  3. Close File Explorer and relaunch the app.

While this is an efficient fix that will immediately get your sidebar back, you can also apply this solution as a fix if File Explorer is not showing the top bar.

2. Re-Register the shdocvw.dll file

  1. Left-click the Start button, type Command Prompt in the search bar, and select Run as Administrator.cmd as admin
  2. Select Yes when the UAC prompts for confirmation.
  3. In the command prompt Window, type in the following and hit Enter: regsvr32 /i shdocvw

The shdocvw.dll file controls the majority of the Windows user interface. Since this error is UI related, re-registering the file might help resolve the error.

3. Roll back Windows Update

  1. Press Windows key + I to open Settings.
  2. Select Windows Update and click on Update History.
  3. Click on Uninstall Windows Update.
  4. Locate the specific update from the list of Windows Updates and click on Uninstall to remove the update.

If Windows file explorer is missing, rolling back a Windows update can help resolve the problem. Here is a detailed guide that includes what you need to know about Windows update settings

You should note that cannot install some updates. After installing a Windows Update, you might run into errors that can only be fixed by uninstalling the update.

4. Run a DISM Scan

  1. Left-click the Start button, type Command Prompt in the search bar, and select Run as Administrator.
  2. Type the following and hit Enter:  sfc /scannow
  3. Type the following and hit Enter: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
  4. Wait until the processes are completed and close the Command Prompt.

A DISM scan helps detects and fix problems with files on your computer; running the scan might help resolve the File Explorer left pane missing.

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If your File Explorer sidebar needs to be included, it’s nothing serious. It’sIt’s likely you have a faulty Windows update, or you changed the view settings.

With the steps listed above, you should be able to restore your Windows sidebar in no time. If you’ve got other solutions that helped you resolve this problem, you can let us know in the comments section.

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