Fix: Explorer navigation pane missing in Windows 7/8/10

Windows Explorer or File Explorers a program that is very integral to Windows operations. Here, you see different files, folders displayed in a hierarchy. The program lets you easily copy, move, rename, and search for files and folders. For example, you can open a folder that contains a file you want to copy or move, and then drag the file to another folder or drive. File Explorer is a File manager. It finds immense use in daily operations, ranging from opening files to transferring them to a different location such as USB drive.

The explorer is divided into following areas:

  1. Navigation Pane – Seen on the left-hand side, navigation pane lists all the folders, library items and network connections
  2. Details Pane – provides details such as creation& modification date, size, etc about files selected in the explorer.
  3. Preview Pane – The Preview pane gives a sneak preview of media and document files.

Sometimes, your Windows Explorer may not display the left side Navigation Pane properly or may appear all grayed out – a possible reason could be file or registry corruption. What do you do under such circumstances. Well, you may try this:

Explorer navigation pane missing

1] Run sfc /scannow to run the system file checker.

2] You may need to re-register the shdocvw.dll file which is used by Windows to add some basic file operations. The shdocvw.dll file is a system file that helps perform the navigation, history maintenance, favorites maintenance, HTML parsing, etc. So see if re-registering this dll file helps you resolve the issue.

Open and elevated command prompt, type the following and hit Enter:

regsvr32 /i shdocvw

After the command successfully runs, restart your computer. Your Explorer should now display the left folder pane properly.

3] If you are using Windows 8, you may want to fist check if you have by mistake unchecked the option to show the Navigation Pane.

 Explorer navigation pane missing

Open File Explorer > View tab > Navigation pane > Ensure that the option to show Navigation pane is checked.

Hope something helps!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.