Windows 11 saw the debut of a much-anticipated feature in File Explorer, the integrated Photo Vault.
The new feature, which was introduced in Build 23435 in the Dev channel, represents a big piece of a larger puzzle Microsoft is busy solving — namely, how to make File Explorer better with a complete overhaul.
File Explorer is the folder you open on your desktop, of course, every day, so it’s a central part of the Windows 11 interface. In this case, the addition of a gallery allows you to easily browse photos, right there when you use File Explorer.
Clicking on “Gallery” displays a chronological library of photos, with the most recent images at the top and a timeline to the right, allowing you to quickly scroll back in time if desired.
As Microsoft in blog post (opens in a new tab) For build 23435, the gallery takes the same form as the “All Photos” view in the Photos app.
Which images are included in the new gallery can be decided via a drop-down menu that allows you to add folders. Additionally, the Gallery will appear in the File Chooser Dialog, which is the panel that pops up to select files, for example, when you attach something to an email (so if the content is an image, you can Browse through the gallery).
Analytics: Measuring Response to Gallery
This is a major addition to File Explorer, but not a surprise. Mainly because we’ve seen the File Explorer photo gallery, thanks to the intrepid Windows 11 testers who have taken a deep dive into the OS. In short, Gallery has been in preview builds for a while and was previously enabled using the configuration tool, so we already have some decent glimpses at new Windows 11 features.
Still, it’s nice to see Gallery finally come out in full form and rock the boat, and discover more nuances about how it works. There’s a caveat though — not all Windows 11 testers will see this right now, as Microsoft is slowly rolling out Gallery.
The software giant noted that it will monitor feedback on the feature to “see how well it works before rolling it out to everyone,” and we’re at the very beginning of the rollout. So, reading between the lines, you might need to be pretty lucky to see build 23435’s photo gallery in File Explorer, but we can imagine it showing up to more testers soon.
Speaking of expected timelines, when will Microsoft’s major overhaul of File Explorer (including the Gallery) actually arrive in the release version of Windows 11? That’s a long way off, and we’ll likely be looking at the big Windows 11 annual update (known as 23H2) later in 2023.