File Explorer Sidebar Missing | File Explorer issues

Find the File Explorer sidebar missing? Don’t worry; this post can help you bring it back to normal via 4 practical ways, as well as solve other File Explorer issues in a breeze.


By Lori / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Why does my File Explorer not have the sidebar?

Windows users will be familiar with File Explorer. This tool helps users store and manage their data in a smooth and easy way. They use the File Explorer sidebar to quickly access their files, folders, and drives.

We are referring to the Navigation Pane of File Explorer by mentioning the sidebar. It gives the entrance of Quick Access, This PC, Network, and OneDrive (if you have enabled it).

With the help of the sidebar, they can readily visit their recently used files, folders, Downloads, and Pictures and check their disks, etc.


But sometimes, due to software errors, human errors, or other issues, users may get bothered by problems like folders at the top disappearing from Quick Access; sometimes, they even find the File Explorer sidebar missing from the window.


Why Can't I see the Navigation Pane in File Explorer?


So when I first open the File Explorer...I couldn't see the navigation pane even though I ensured that the navigation pane was enabled. I first disabled and then enabled it to see if it reset, but it didn't. So the navigation pane was on the left side. But now it just disappeared. Can someone please help...?


- Question from Microsoft Community


If you want to know how to fix the File Explorer left pane missing issue, this article provides 4 effective ways to help you. What’s more, some other File Explorer issues like Quick Access missing or data missing will be addressed.


How to fix the File Explorer sidebar missing issue?

Firstly, we are about to settle the File Explorer not showing left pane. How do I get the side panel back on File Explorer? 4 methods are available for you to try. Let’s start!

Method 1. Fix File Explorer not showing left pane by re-enabling it

Try re-enabling the Navigation Pane if the pane was lost due to human error.

The toolbar is very helpful in file targeting. For instance, users could utilize the search tools to find lost PDF files, documents, photos, videos, and whatever they need.

>> Start File Explorer by pressing the Windows + E key > click View > click Navigation pane on the toolbar > tick Navigation pane. Then the left pane will be visible, and you can access your wanted files in a breeze.


* To specify your Navigation pane: File Explorer > View > Options > View > scroll down and change the Navigation pane settings as you like.


Method 2. Restart the Windows Explorer

If the first method cannot work, you may need to restart the Windows File Explorer. Restarting is a feasible measure to fix some common system errors. A bunch of users will restart to repair drive errors.

Step 1. Right-click the taskbar > Task Manager.

Step 2. Locate Windows Explorer > Restart > wait for the system to process.


After that, you may check if the File Explorer left pane missing issue has been settled.

Method 3. Run System File Checker

Since system file corruption might cause your Windows 10 File Explorer sidebar missing, another way is to run System File Checker to scan and repair these corrupted system files.

Step 1. Type “cmd” in the search bar and click “Run as administrator” to open the command prompt window.


Step 2. Type the command lines - sfc /scannow and press “Enter” to go on.

SFC Scannow

Method 4. Re-register the shdocvw.dll file

To fix the issue of the File Explorer left pane missing, you can try re-registering the shdocvw.dll file. This file contains essential functions such as history maintenance, favorites maintenance, HTML parsing, etc. for Internet Explorer. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step 1. Type cmd in the search bar and choose Run as administrator to open the command prompt window.


Step 2. Type the command lines - regsvr32 /i shdocvw and then press Enter to execute it.

Step 3. After that, you can close the window and restart it to check whether the File Explorer sidebar reappears or not.

Further reading: troubleshoot other File Explorer issues

Except for the File Explorer sidebar missing issue, users might run into other problems as well.

Some users have reported that Quick Access is invisible as well. Moreover, some even find their files lost from File Explorer. The further reading part will help you solve them.

1. How to fix Quick Access folders missing from the Navigation Pane?

Some users may find Windows File Explorer Quick Access is missing after changing the folder options or system crashes. Check the methods below.

>> This PC > View > Options > tick Show recently used files in Quick access and Show frequently used folders in Quick access > Apply.


If this doesn’t help, try resetting the folders to fix it.

>> This PC > View > Options > View > click Reset Folders.


Hope this helps you solve the Quick Access missing issue.

2. How to recover lost files from the File Explorer sidebar?

Another upsetting problem users might face is data loss caused by various reasons. File deletion, disk formatting, viruses, etc., can lead to file loss. Among all these causes, deletion is the most prominent one.

People might seek help from file backups or data recovery services to address data loss. But unfortunately, a considerable number of users don’t have file backups.

Then, how to recover and get files back if you have accidentally deleted files in File Explorer? For safety and efficiency, users may choose to utilize MyRecover, a specialized data recovery solution for Windows.

MyRecover was created by a sophisticated team with more than ten years of development experience. It is backed by this team and has cutting-edge scanning technologies and algorithms that make it easy to perform Windows data recovery.

Recover lost and deleted files from internal and external HDDs, SSDs, USB drives, SD cards, etc. 
Recover data after deletion, formatting, emptying the recycle bin, malware infestation, etc. 
200+ recoverable data kinds are available, such as jpg, png, txt, ppt, xlsx, pdf, zip, avi, and more.
Choose files to restore as you like while running a scan. 
Available on Windows 10, 8, 7, Server, and Windows 11.
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download
Before data recovery, do not add any other files to the source drive to avoid data overwriting.

Step 1. Install and run the program > hover the mouse over the source drive (where the lost or deleted files are stored)> click Scan.


Step 2. While scanning, you may search the scanned files by filenames or extensions. Filters like Type, Size, Path, etc., can help you locate the target files much faster.


Step 3. Click Deleted files/Recycle Bin > select the files you have lost or deleted > click Recover x files. If no wanted files were found, go to Other missing files > select specific types to retrieve.


Not only deletion, but this tool can also apply to disk formatting – you could utilize it to recover accidentally formatted hard drive.

Wrapping up

Users who find the File Explorer sidebar missing could adopt the 4 feasible methods in this post. In addition, other File Explorer issues like Quick Access missing or data missing are settled in this post, too.

Lori · Editor
Lori receives professional technical training since joining AOMEI, and aims at helping users troubleshoot problems on data recovery and protection. She focuses on simple, efficient and practical methods, and provides professional advice. Being able to help readers and users is her ultimate goal.