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Add Tabbed Browsing to Explorer in Windows 7

Are you tired of shuffling between windows when browsing or copying files between different folders?  Here’s how you can make Explorer more usable with integrated tab navigation.

Explorer in Windows 7 and Vista is much more usable than previous versions, especially with features such as the integrated search box and the breadcrumbs in the address bar.  Unfortunately, though, it can still be difficult to shuffle around between multiple windows and folders.

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Most of us are used to managing pages with tabs in our browsers, and this can be a great way to manage your files as well.  Explorer doesn’t offer this by default, but you can easily add tabs to Explorer with the latest version of QTTabBar.

Add Tabs to Windows Explorer

To add tabs, download QTTabBars (link below), and install as normal.

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When it’s finished installing, you can check the box to restart Explorer so you can go ahead and use QTTabBar.  Otherwise, you’ll have to reboot your computer before you start using it.

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The first time you open an Explorer window after installing QTTabBar, you’ll notice that it looks the exact same as before.  You’ll still need to activate the tab bar itself.  To do this, press the Alt key to temporarily activate it, or click Organize and select the Menu Bar under Layout.

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Now, open the View menu, select Toolbars, and click QT TabBar to activate the tabs.

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Now you’ll see a new tab bar that shows the name of the folder you’re browsing on the active tab.  If you’ve missed the up button in Explorer, QTTabBar brings it back; simply double-click on the tab to go up a folder.

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You can open a folder in a new tab by dragging it to the tab bar.

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Right-click on a tabs to close, clone, copy the folder address, and more.

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You can switch between open tabs with the familiar Ctrl+Tab shortcut.  This opens a nice preview that shows you what folder you’re selecting.

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You’ll also notice a new down-arrow when you hover over a folder or library.  Click it to browse the files in the folder quickly from a popup-menu.  This is a handy time-saving feature.

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QTTabBar has many additional settings you can tweak from the Options pane.  To do this, right-click an empty part of the tab bar, and select Options.

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Here you can change keyboard shortcuts for tabs, window behavior, and more.

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QTTabBar worked quite good in our tests, so give it a try and see if tabbed Explorer makes your file browsing experience easier!

Download QTTabBar

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 09/20/10

Comments (46)

  1. Hvidhajen

    I must say that was a nice one ;)

    Thanks

  2. Howard

    “QTTabBar worked quite good in our tests”

    Terrible english ! :D “worked quite WELL”

  3. Matthew Guay

    @Howard – That’s what you get when an American expatiate writes your articles :P Plus, who says well like that in normal conversation? :)

  4. KB Prez

    VERY USEFUL app, but you lost me with “breadcrumbs in the address bar”. Say what??

  5. Matthew Guay

    @KB Prez – The new address bar in Explorer uses what’s called “breadcrumb” navigation, which lets you browse to a higher-level folder by clicking the folder name in the address bar. For more info, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Explorer#Layout_and_icons and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breadcrumb_(navigation)

    Hope that clears up the “breadcrumb” mess you may have expected ;)

  6. Ruth

    I love it! :) It’s solve me the lost of time.

  7. torsrex

    I love this one! :D

  8. eagletec9

    Anything like this for Windows XP?

  9. mystifeid

    http://qttabbar.wikidot.com/

    Version for XP and Vista. Have been using this for several years on both. MS should buy him out and make it standard.

  10. Matthew Guay

    @eagletec9 – To my knowledge, QTTabBar works great on XP too. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!

  11. KB Prez

    @Matthew, THANK YOU for the “breadcrumbs” explanation!

  12. gilteon

    @eagletec9, I’ve had QTTabBar running on my XP machine for a couple of years. I think it was originally made for XP and adapted for Vista & 7.

  13. bubs353

    Being using it for a long time. Totally love this.

  14. beergas

    Thanks. But my subfolders are too complex for tabs. Too many folders within folders & D:/
    Sticking with Explorer, and Q-Dir, filehandling, (neat double panel) freeware that along with Takeownership allows for deleting those sticky files & folders that can occur even in Win 7.

  15. bf

    I tried betas of QTTabBar few times in Vista and 7, but got too many error messages. Also, not a big fan of alpha versions. When they get to stable version for Windows 7, than we can talk about downloading.

  16. Chris

    “QTTabBar worked quite good” No it did not!! It worked quite WELL. “good” is an adjective used to describe nouns. What you need here is an adverb – used to modify verbs. Well is the adverb you need. Bad grammar is inexcusable.

  17. tubarn

    I love this, thank you so much!

  18. Roi

    @Chris
    That has already been discussed.
    See 2nd comment :)

  19. DuanVu

    Great! This app works quite well, there is no problem on my Win7 x32 :)

  20. RHPT

    I don’t have the toolbar option under my view menu. I think there might be a group policy setting that disables it? Anyone know what that is? Thanks.

  21. Mike

    Ughh the ugly menu bar… is there any way to remove it?

  22. Dave

    might be very useful…………thanks man!!

  23. TMTz

    Thank you very much. It’s so useful. But, how can I hide menu bar in explorer as default :(, it’s not necessary.

  24. Matthew Guay

    Sorry guys, it appears that you cannot hide the menu bar if you’re using QtTabbar…

  25. Luis Matoso

    Can someone help me please? in my Windows 7 64 i can´t put any folder on the tab, simple it does not show more that one folder at time.
    i love the program on Vista it´s very useful and pratical, so i hope someone help me to run the program also in W7,64. Please help.

  26. Brandon

    I beg to differ Matt. You CAN hide the menu bar. See here: http://img816.imageshack.us/img816/4181/capturehqz.png

    It’s in Misc. Tab in options =/

    Loving this app…however it is annoying when I have a Windows Explorer window open already and when I open a new one, it opens in a new window, is there a way to make it open a new tab in the already open Windows Explorer? I thought “Capture new Explorer Processes” would do it, but it doesn’t.

  27. Barry Weiss

    Nice! I would definitely recommend to others!

  28. Andrei D.

    Does anyone know how can it be made to remember tabs and open the explorer window the way it was configured once ( in Windows XP ) ?

  29. Andrei D.

    Never mind (my mistake to talk before think) , I just figured it out !

  30. Marcraz

    I have the same problem. I don’t have the toolbar option under my view menu. Please help. Thanks

  31. Lee

    hey all. for sure – great app. i have a really duMb question: is there a way to keep the layout? just running it for first time; each time i close explorer the tabs i added are gone when i reopen,. hoping don’t have to go through having to re-add all the tabs each time? thanks to all.

  32. Lee

    Oops. Same ? as Andrei D I guess. Am using Win 7 64bit and IE9. Thanks!
    Seems like must be a way; almost defeats purpose if need to drag and drop each time reopened-?

  33. Lee

    Disregard. Figured it out.
    Options > Window > Restore Tabs

  34. Matthew Guay

    @Brandon – Woah, great find! I stand corrected :)

    As for capturing new Explorer processes, it did work fine on a x86 install of Windows 7, but I’m trying it out in x64 right now and seems to not be doing it. Guess that feature isn’t fully integrated yet…

    @Lee – Great find too! This little tool is quite powerful; everyone keeps uncovering new features ;)

  35. Wandus

    hai, guyz…
    You’re must try windowtabs, more stable than this.

  36. Mel

    Meh, I use an external file manager, eg TotalCommander, FreeCommander and ditched Windows Explorer about two years ago. Both of those I listed absolutely destroys Explorer in terms of functionality and productivity, it literally feels like stepping back into computer stone age when using Explorer.

  37. AlanR

    Thank you all. I have been cursing the windows7 explorer and this makes it usable again.

  38. Marshall

    It’s all about the wheel button…opens folder in new tab and closes tab.

  39. Beki

    Great Software saves me a heck lot of time.

  40. shekhar

    Thank you sir.You are making Windows better than Microsoft did.

  41. Technbuzz

    The frustrating part for me was it shows menu bar by default but finally i figured it out from the settings of qttabbar.

  42. Alice

    love it!

  43. sludgehound

    Thanks but staying wth Q-Dir for x64. This one ok but didn’t seem to ‘preserve’ a dragged D:
    subfolder that was set in there. Clicking on C: would overwrite it with another C: drive symbol.
    I was sort of hoping for an internal D: subflolder up there that I end up using a lot. Q-Dir just
    allows for such a folder on right panel. Good enough for me.

  44. Oscar

    Link below

    *Scroll scroll scroll scroll*

  45. John

    So many trolls……

  46. Edward

    This is magnificent and should absolutely be integrated into the next Windows OS Build.

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