On a Mac, Finder is the file management application that comes with every Mac. Thanks to tabs, you can keep multiple folders open in the same window, reducing clutter. Here’s how to use it.

The Joy of Tabs

It’s not a secret, but perhaps one of the most under-appreciated features of the Mac Finder is tabs. Tabs are a user interface concept descended from physical filing folders. Tabs gained popularity in web browsers in the late 1990s, and they first appeared in macOS with 10.12 Sierra in 2016.

In Finder, Tabs allow you to keep multiple folder windows open at the same time without cluttering up your screen. You can even move files between tabs, which is great for quickly organizing your files.

How to Use Tabs in macOS Finder

To use tabs in Finder, first open the Finder app by clicking its icon in your dock.

In the Finder window that opens, your tab bar might not be visible by default. To reveal the tab bar, click the “View” menu at the top of the screen and select “Show Tab Bar.” Or you can press Shift+Command+T on your keyboard.

(If you see “Hide Tab Bar” listed in the “View” menu instead, then the tab bar is already visible and you can skip this step.)

In Mac Finder, select "View" then choose "Show Tab Bar."

When the tab bar is visible, you’ll see it near the top of the Finder window, just below the toolbar.

When the tab bar appears in finder, you'll see it just below the toolbar.

At any time, click the plus (“+”) button to create a new Finder tab. Or you can press Command+T on your keyboard.

To switch between viewing each tab, click the tab you want to view in the tab bar. To close a tab, simply click the “X” button that appears in the tab when you hover over it with your mouse cursor. Or you can press Command+W on your keyboard.

To move files between tabs, simply drag and drop a file or folder onto another tab. In this scenario, each tab acts almost like a shortcut to the folder it is pointing to.

Also, Finder lets you open as many tabs as you can handle. If the number of open tabs exceeds the width of the tab bar in the open window, the tab labels will scroll horizontally off to the side. You can browse between them by clicking the far left or right ends of the tab bar. Happy finding!

RELATED: What Is Finder on a Mac?

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
Read Full Bio »