Replacing Windows’ Ribbon UI

Or: Take the Ribbon From Windows 10

Here’s the process in a nutshell, at the top for easy reference for those of us with memory problems; I discuss it below:

  1. Navigate to \WINDOWS\System32
  2. Take Ownership of UIRibbon.dll – That link is Microsoft’s official method, which works fine if you only need it for this process after major updates, but gets tiresome if you have to do it frequently. The easier method involves a one-time registry hack that will add “Take Ownership” to Explorer’s context menu. Always be careful with Registry hacks, because screwing up your registry could make your computer unstable, or even unbootable. This is where I got the hack, and have been using it for more than a year with no problems.
  3. Add “.bak” to the end of it, confirming the popup asking for administrator permission
  4. Log out or reboot

Alternatively, Winaero has a Ribbon Disabler app for Windows 8 and 10 that should make the process effortless. I have used other Winaero apps without issue for many months, but always forget about this one when I need it, so I haven’t tried it yet and therefore can’t comment on it.

Does the ribbon toolbar in Windows 8/10’s File Explorer (or “Windows Explorer” as it’s known to us old farts) annoy you? Do you, like me, have mental or physical disabilities that make ribbons difficult, frustrating, or even impossible to use? (They actually hinder me quite a lot, reducing rather than increasing productivity.) Are you unable to use a mouse for long or at all, making it so that you need menus that can be easily navigated with the keyboard?

Whatever the case, getting a more standard menu in Explorer is simple, but does require a bit of hacking, as detailed above. You always need to be careful with system hacks, because you can cause a great deal of damage if you aren’t careful. That said, I have used this method at least a dozen times since upgrading to Win 10, and there have been no problems.

The better fix is to make Microsoft realize how important it is that they simply make the ribbon optional by including it in Folder Options. There’s already an option there for “Always show menus”, so it seems like it would be easy to add “Use Ribbon UI”. Tell them so through as many channels as you can – MS support, Twitter, facebook. I have already seen accessibility upgrades in Win10, like the return of the Start Menu’s search function, so if enough people speak up about this issue, they may well do something about it.


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