One year in, Windows 11 update still plagued by File Explorer focus-stealing bug

Microsoft has finally fixed a persistent issue that causes File Explorer to open automatically without warning, taking focus away from other applications on Windows 11. This helpful fix comes as part of the December 2023 cumulative update for Windows 11, KB5033375.

This devastating problem was initially reported by numerous users in the Feedback Hub in October 2022, soon after the release of Windows 11 Moment 2, which came with a revamped File Explorer design. So, what exactly is this bug all about? Based on my testing, this glitch causes File Explorer to unexpectedly take over the foreground while unrelated activities are being carried out.

The File Explorer focus-stealing bug can be extremely irritating as it can occur at random intervals and, in dire situations, as frequently as every hour. It doesn’t discriminate based on the focus of your applications or programs, as File Explorer forcefully seeks attention at irregular intervals, even in the middle of working on a document or presentation.

Many of our readers have expressed just how frustrating this problem has been, likening it to a situation where their computer seemed to have been compromised as someone tried to access their folders.

However, the good news is that Microsoft has acknowledged and fixed the File Explorer focus-stealing issue in the December 2023 update (KB5033375). In the release notes for this update, Microsoft has quietly provided details of the bug fix, acknowledging that it now “addresses an issue that affects File Explorer windows. When you do not expect them, they appear in the foreground.”

Microsoft has also confirmed to Windows Latest that the File Explorer focus steal bug has now been ‘resolved’, which is positive news for Windows 11 users who’ve found dealing with this annoyance to be challenging.

This bug had caused significant inconvenience for many users, with some even considering the possibility of switching to other operating systems due to the issue. One user, in particular, expressed their frustration, stating “It’s been over a year since people started complaining about this, and it’s still happening. This time, it stole focus while a C-Suite was presenting, and they could not get back to their presentation, as they didn’t know what was happening. It caused them embarrassment. They have asked if they should dump Windows and go to ChromeOS.”

It’s worth noting that Microsoft never officially confirmed this bug in its support documentation for Windows 11 22H2 or 23H2, although it was addressed in the release notes of Build 23403.

Microsoft initially resolved the underlying problem that caused File Explorer to inappropriately capture the foreground in their March 2023 Insider preview builds. After several months, the fix has finally reached all users in the December update.

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