Microsoft introduced the Ribbon UI in Windows 8 and 8.1 to replace the classic toolbar UI that has been around since the beginning of Windows. The Ribbon UI is first introduced in Microsoft Office and was then ported to the operating system. This new user interface lays out all the menu items in a nice horizontal view which can be easily toggled on and off with just a click. Since the pros outweigh the cons, most Windows users welcomed the change. But the downside is that for those who still prefer the good old toolbar, there is no option to remove the Ribbon UI. So if you are one of those who actually don’t like the new Ribbon interface, here are a few workarounds that you can use.
1. Rename Ribbon DLL File
Before doing anything, make sure that you have a good backup of the file we are going to edit so that you can restore the changes in case anything goes wrong. With that aside, open up the File Explorer and navigate to the “C:\Windows\System32\” folder. Scroll down and find the file named “UIRibbon.dll.”
To edit any of the system files, you first need to take ownership of that said file. Once you have taken the ownership of the “UIRibbon.dll” file, right click on it and select the option “Rename” to rename the file.
Now just rename the file to whatever you want, but the good practice is to add something at the end of the file name. For instance, I’ve renamed my file to “UIRibbon_old.dll.” Once renamed, here is how it looks.
Once you are done with the changes, restart the system and the Ribbon UI will be replaced with the classic bar.
2. Edit Explorer Ribbon DLL File
The other method of disabling the Ribbon UI is by editing the “ExplorerFrame.dll” file with Resource Hacker. First open the File Explorer and navigate to the “C:\Windows\System32\” folder. Here scroll down and find the file named “ExplorerFrame.dll.”
Now simply copy the file and press the “Ctrl + V” shortcut to paste the file in the same directory. By default, the file will be copied with a different name, something like “ExplorerFrame-copy.dll.” Just rename the copied file to whatever you want.
Again paste the already copied file onto the desktop.
Now download the Resource Hacker, install and launch the application. Once opened, select the option “Open” under the File menu. Here in this window, navigate to the file on the desktop and open it with the resource hacker.
Once the file has been opened, navigate to “UIFILE -> EXPLORER_RIBBON -> 1033” and right-click on it to access the context menu. From the right-click option, select “Delete Resource” to delete the key.
Now copy the modified file and paste it in the System32 directory. If prompted to replace the old file, just select the option “Replace file” to continue. If you receive any errors regarding the ownership of the file, just take ownership of the old “ExplorerFrame.dll” file and you are good to go.
Once copied, just restart your system and the Ribbon UI will be replaced with the classic bar.
3. Use Ribbon Disabler
If you hate editing the system files, then using a simple portable program like the Ribbon Disabler is a good option. Once you download the application, extract and execute the Ribbon Disabler file. Select the option “Disable Explorer Ribbon.”
The above action will pop up a window asking you to log off for the changes to take effect. Select the option “Yes” to log off.
Once logged in, you will see that the result is the same as above, i.e. the Ribbon UI will be replaced with the classic bar.
If you want to re-enable the Ribbon UI in the future, just execute the Ribbon Disabler file again and select the option “Enable Ribbon Explorer.”
That’s all there is to do, and it is that simple to disable or remove the Ribbon UI in Windows 8 or 8.1. The only important thing to do is to have a good backup of all the files you are editing as a simple misconfiguration can corrupt the system files.
Hopefully that helps, and do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above methods to disable the Ribbon UI. Moreover, do you actually think that Windows should provide a built-in option to disable the Ribbon UI? Let us know in the comments.