For many years now, most web browsers included the ability to open web pages within separate browser tabs. Being able to quickly switch between tabbed sites is a great time saver. This also reduces screen clutter by storing everything inside a single window instead of multiple open windows.
Tab is also a popular feature found in third-party file managers like Free Commander or Directory Opus. However, Windows’ built-in file manager, Explorer, still uses a single window per folder view. The only current option for using Windows Explorer with tabs is with the help of a third-party add-on.
Here are free tools that give you the ability to integrate multiple Explorer windows into a single window.
QTTabBar is a versatile utility with a number of other useful features besides getting Tab in File Explorer.
When the tabs are activated, they appear below the Explorer ribbon in Windows 10. Tabs can be arranged and grouped together, you can also simply drag a folder onto the tab bar to open a new tab. The right click menu on the tab bar includes some other useful additions like an advanced rename dialog and a shortcut finder.
- Download QTTabBar
Enable the QTTabBar in Explorer
Tabs are not enabled automatically by QTTabBar, and you have to manually enable the tab toolbar from within Explorer Windows 10.
After installing the QTTabBar, open an Explorer window and go to the View tab on the ribbon. Click the bottom half of the Options button (far right) and select the QTTabBar item .
If the QTTabBar view option doesn’t appear, close all Explorer windows and try again. Alternatively, please log out or restart.
2. Clover 3
Google Chrome users will feel familiar when using Clover, as it presents exactly the same as Chrome tabs inside Explorer. You even get a bookmark bar with a built-in manager for quick access to your most used folders.
The biggest problem with Clover is that the installer and some program windows are not translated from Chinese. Thankfully, this has no effect on everyday use.
Once installed, Clover opens an Explorer window with tabs displayed and ready to use. Like a browser, tabs can be rearranged, ungrouped, copied, reopened and bookmarked. The bookmark manager is quite familiar with options for adding and creating sub categories. The bookmark list can be exported and imported as an HTML file from the Settings window . You can turn off the bookmark bar if you don’t need it.
The developer has carefully copied some browser shortcuts so they work the same in Clover. For example, CTRL + T will open a new tab, CTRL + Shift + T will reopen a closed tab, and CTRL + D will bookmark the current tab. Nine available keyboard shortcuts are listed in the Settings window . A few checkboxes are also available in the Settings window, most notably the option to go forward a folder if you double-click an empty area of the Explorer window.
- Download Clover 3
Unfortunately, TabExplorer is a product that has been “abandoned” for a long time. The last update took place in 2012, and the developer’s website is gone. Even so, TabExplorer works, but that means any errors or incompatibilities encountered will never be fixed.
Once installed, a single wizard will appear where you can actually enable the tabs feature. Multi-colored tabs and checkboxes starting with Windows are optional, wizards can be called later from the tray icon menu. Tabs appear above the Explorer window, where they can be pinned, duplicated, rearranged, renamed, or reopened.
There’s portable mode save settings, data in installation folder, and touch mode. You can also turn off update check as there won’t be any updates. Responses, bug reports and website buttons won’t work either. An error in Windows 10 causes an empty tab to open occasionally and cannot be closed. Stopping Explorer.exe, logging off, or restarting is the only workaround for this error.
- Download TabExplorer
The good thing about TidyTabs is that you can add tabs to any standard window on the screen. Different windows can also be grouped, so there can be two Explorer and Command Prompt windows as tab groups. The free version for personal use has some limitations, such as being able to group only 3 tabs together and not automatically group, rename, or sort.
Once installed, TidyTabs resides in the system tray, taking up about 1MB of memory. The tab is in the upper left of the window and will show up if you hover your cursor over it. If the window is near the top of the screen, the tab moves inside the title bar. To group Explorer windows simply drag and drop one tab to another. Pull the tab away to cancel grouping.
From the Settings window, there are options to change tab opacity and disable automatic hiding single tabs. Another useful feature is the blacklist (blacklist) and the whitelist (whitelist). With this feature, you can include or exclude specific programs from the tab. Note that TidyTabs doesn’t work on Windows 10 UWP apps like Edge, Store or Mail, etc. However, it should work on most normal desktop windows.
- Download TidyTabs
WindowTabs is quite similar to TidyTabs in a couple of ways. It shows tabs individually or as a group above the desktop window. WindowTabs also has the same kind of restrictions as TidyTabs in that you can only group up to 3 tabs together in the free version of the program.
However, it is not worth paying the $ 19 (VND 460,000) upgrade because the software is not actively maintained (last update from 2014).
One advantage of WindowTabs is that there is a portable version that you can try, no installation required. When launched, it is in the background and if you open a window, a tab will be displayed at the top left. Drag Explorer or any other window tabs together to create a group. It’s great that WindowTabs can group Windows 10 UWP apps, like Edge or Mail, together.
Tabs can be minimized, renamed, rearranged, aligned, and grouped automatically. One problem with WindowTabs is that it also has the same Windows 10 error as TabExplorer, it’s an empty tab that sometimes appears and can’t be closed. Closing Explorer (forced stop or by logging out) seems to be the only ways it works here.
- Download WindowTabs
Instead of just adding tabs to the standard Explorer window, BrightExplorer wraps its own windows around Explorer by adding its own tabbed interface. This is noticeable when you open Explorer because a normal window will open and quickly close before the BrightExplorer window opens. It is free to use, although there are a number of paid add-ons that can help enhance functionality.
Setup and configuration options don’t have a lot of things, just launch the BrightExplorer window from the tray icon or by opening an Explorer window. To add a new tab, just click the two arrows or open a new Explorer window, which will automatically attach to BrightExplorer. Right click to restore recently closed tabs, rearrange open tabs, or unlink selected tabs.
There’s a favorites panel that lets you save locations for quick opening later, but it seems a bit confusing and inefficient. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way to hide or delete the rather unsightly toolbar area and take up a lot of space below the tabs.
- Download BrightExplorer
7. Install Stardock’s Groupy
Stardock offers an app called Groupy, which costs $ 10 for a 1-month trial, adding Sets-like features. Groupy is included in the Object Desktop software suite.
Like a feature of Microsoft, Groupy also tabbed to many other applications. You can use tabs from multiple applications in one window, drag and drop windows to turn them into tabs, and vice versa …
Use the Groupy software to open tabs in File Explorer
This feature runs on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 and is generally better than using unstable versions of Redstone 5.
Although Microsoft’s SmartScreen blocked Groupy, VirusTotal said it was okay. Stardock is also a trustworthy company, so if you see a warning from SmartScreen you can ignore it.
8. Use another File Explorer
Instead of using software to add tabs to apps, you can install and use other file-browsing tools. These softwares look no different than the file explorer and Windows Explorer folder view, just use their own interface and many of them have tabs.
Explorer ++ is tab-enabled file browsing software
Explorer ++ is free, open source and quite gentle software that supports Windows 7 to Windows 10. Customizable interface and tab support. Common keyboard shortcuts in the browser can also be used in Explorer ++ such as Ctrl + T to open new tabs, Ctrl + W to close tabs …
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