How-To Geek

Disable Tabbed Browsing in Internet Explorer 7

Why you’d want to disable tabbed browsing is a mystery to me, but I received a request for a registry hack to force IE7 to not use tabs. I can only assume that it has to do with keeping users from too much confusion when upgrading from IE6.

There’s two ways that you can disable tabbed browsing. The easiest way is to just follow these steps:

  • Click the Tools button, and choose Internet Options
  • Click the Settings button in the Tabs section:
  • Uncheck Tabbed Browsing as shown here:


This method is probably the simplest, and should usually be used.

If you are a system administrator, here are some registry hacks to Enable/Disable Tabbed Browsing. Just unzip, and double-click. Note that the disable registry hack will force the setting on the users, so they can’t enable it without the enable registry hack.


IE7 without tabs:

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/6/07

Comments (50)

  1. Dragan Pavlovic

    Are you kiding? I HAVE NO TABS AT ALL! When I open File/New tab, that option is DISABLED (gray and dead).

    How can you help me? I use XP SP2. I changed options in Internet options, related to tabs so many time, but without any result.
    I have no virus in my system, because I was amazed that IE7 has tabs at all and I installed it when I reinstalled my XP! How I know that IE7 has tabs? I saw them at my friend’s computer.
    If you have some advice, just say. I have no tabs at all. It is the same dull, slow and stupid IE, which can’t be compared with Opera. Anyway, sometimes I need IE, some sites are designed to work with it. So….
    HELP Meeeeee! : )

    Dragan from Serbia

  2. The Geek

    One would have to assume that whoever installed your computer already disabled tabbed browsing using the registry tweaks above.

    You should also check that you really have IE7… if you do, you should be able to use the enable tab brwosing registry tweak to enable them.

    Otherwise, you should just use Firefox.

  3. Jim

    Me too Dragan! It is really frustrating, and so far this is the only place i’ve found anyone else who has the exact same proble. I recently installed ie7 and no matter what i try i can’t get the File/New Tab to be ENABLED – its permanently greyed out. I tried the registry tweak given above and all this does is disable/enable out all the options on the Internet Options/Tab Settings screen. Changing the actual settings in the screen has no effect on my installation. I am the sole user of this machine so its not an administrator or network nazi issue…

    Any other ideas anyone, or has anyone else had this problem?

    Jim, bouncing around at sea on the arctic circle.

  4. Al Mejia

    I’ve also had the problem since upgrading to IE7.

    The provided registry hack is close but not cigar. With it I was able to figure out the correct one:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TabbedBrowsing]

  5. The Geek


    Thanks for the fix… I’ll update the zipfile.

    I love my readers =)

  6. Sandy McKay

    Dear Geek,
    My IE Exporer 7 will not allow a full page to be displayed since I downloaded Firefox & Google. It tells me to disable tabbed browsing but haven’t been able to find out how to do that. I looked in Internet Options and there is no mention of tabs, not in Settings either. So what do I do Please
    Greatful if you can help me

    The Traveller

  7. jmarcv

    >Why you’d want to disable tabbed browsing is a mystery to me….

    In my biz I generally have some 20+ windows or tabs open across multiple desktops.
    Tabbed Browsing is a nuisance. You can never tell if IE will open a new window or new tab, it is impossible to tell where a site is from looking at the taskbar so I have to rely on extremely sharp short-term memory, or opening every IE instance and looking.

    I like the concept, but there are some real drawbacks for me.

  8. KLin

    Dear Geek,
    I ran your script on enabling tabs and it works great. My only problem is that it won’t open a new tab with my home page … only a blank page. I did the tool option thing but still no home page in a new tab.


  9. Albert

    Dear Geek,

    Can you do this for Firefox too? I think I surf way too much with tabs, and would like to disable tabbed browisng for my default browser, firefox.


  10. The Geek


    I’m not entirely sure why anybody would want to disable tabs, but you can do so by using the following extension:

    I’ve tested it out, and it does work.

  11. jmarcv

    >I’m not entirely sure why anybody would want to disable tabs….

    Well, I gave you some of my reasons 4 posts up on July 9th.

  12. Nicolas

    Hi Dragan Pavlovic & Jim!

    I think I’ve found a way to solve your problem!
    Please contact me, my email address is: —removed by editor—

  13. The Geek


    If you’ve found a way to fix the problem, just leave a note here, or over on the Forums

  14. Nicolas

    Dragon Pavlovic & Jim

    All you need to do is very simple, apply this patch:

    And that suppose to fix your problem, at least it fixed mine ;)

  15. Leafgreen

    Hi Geek and readers,

    Do any of these solutions remove the entire tabs row: the “Command Bar”, the favorites control icons to the left of the tabs, and the tabs themselves? That’s what I want to do to create more vertical space in IE7.

    I’ve always hated repetition of features that wastes screen space in a program. For example, in the tabs row in IE7, the “Command Bar”, the favorites control icons to the left of the tabs, and even the tabs themselves are repetitions of what is available in the menu bar (File, Edit, etc.) and keyboard commands. You can get the same function as the tabs themselves by just pressing Ctrl-n. You get a new tab at the bottom of your screen, to the right of the Start menu.

  16. RJB

    Tabbed browsing is more than a nuisance. It’s useless and annoying. I for one certainly do not need every link or pop up opening in either a new window or tab. Closing these windows and tabs is time consuming and just plain irritating. It would be nice to have the option of just having the links open in the same window instead of being forced into having windows or tabs opening up all over the place. It makes an otherwise brilliant piece of software into utterly useless junk.

  17. astygmatyk

    So right you are RJB! With tabbed browsing turned off you can actually TAB forward and backward (ALT+TAB) through your opened windows with the actvie window showing the title. Browsing and closing windows is then just a breeze.. while the rodent is left alone forever to sleep…

  18. Dick Waller

    I have been all over the network, including Microsoft, and could not find any way to fix my tabbed browsing after trying all kinds of solutions. Your ‘enable” reg file did the job quickly and easily. Thanks for your help and for being kind enough to accurately address this issue.


  19. ejeanc

    Thanks so much! your solution sure worked and am glad to have the tabs back. I knocked them out when I got rid of a bogus spyware removal program.

  20. DJ X I

    Well.. Great job, the registry keys did it for me. I had the same “New Tab” option, disabled, the registry keys fixed that problem, now i can go on with my new old slow IE7, 10x Geeks!

  21. GA

    I accidentally disables my tab thing. How do i enable it again?

  22. Compifreak

    Thanks a lot for this page. With it I got back the tabs in my IE7. I couldn’t install it any more, after I realized it one day, that the tabs were gone.
    Now my question: I’m on my own computer and I installed the Enable Tab Browsing regedit key, but I would not need to be not able to turn on and off the tablets in the setting by Extras, internetoptions, settings the tabbed browsing. I’d like to be able to turn on and off the tabbed browsing, How can I get it back?

  23. Shawn

    how do I remove the THIRD bar from IE 7. All it does is say what page I’m and it has the
    2 stars to the left which I never use but it eats up and inch off my monitor….
    can I use regedit to take it off??


  24. Mike

    I disable tabs for our office because it is the only way I know of to enable a shortcut to launch in a new Explorer window. That is, if an employee tries to launch a web app and already has one open, the new app fills the old window – unless tabs are disabled.

  25. Trew101

    To The Geek and Al Mejia… Thanks form making my life better again… doing the regfix brought back what corp had taken away in there test build…. It even stuck after reboot… (:

  26. SF2LA3DGrl

    Finally, something that worked! I have tried EVERYTHING and nothing worked except that cute little reg hack at the top of the page here…Microsoft should send you all the money they are spending on tech support!

  27. wormz

    did anyone figure out how to remove the third line with the stars (favorites) fromt the browser?

  28. KAR

    Thank You!! I have tried everything to get my tabs working in IE7! It has been so frustrating! I uninstalled IE7 a few days ago to see if reinstalling it would help with the random crashes, but was unable to successfully reinstall it (I’ve tried every possible thing!). This patch got my tabs back!!!!!!!! (at least in this window… read on:)
    However, I still do have an issue that maybe you can help with? The icon to launch IE7 from the taskbar, launches a different version than a window that was launched for a program update. Both say that it is IE7, but this one (which now works with the patch, and was launched from a shortcut to this page) says the version is: 7.0.5730.11IC When I launch from the IE7 quicklaunch shortcut (or from iexplore.exe in the ie7 folder), the display is like IE6, and the version is: 7.0.5730.11xpsp_sp2_gdr.070227-2254IC
    It doesn’t make any sense to me… Any ideas?

  29. Michael

    I lost (i don’t know how) tab functionnalities. I tried your reg hack but it don’t fix the problem. I can’t use tab. i’m annoying. Thank for your help.

    I have IE7 Build 7.0.5730.13

  30. Spacegold

    I can’t imagine why anyone would want the confusion represented by tabbed browsing ( I disabled it the day I got IE7 ). But a registry hack is only necesary if you are an administrator wanting to disable it for system users. Otherwise, it is easily toggled in the browser as shown.

  31. Roxie

    Thank you so much for the info…you guys rock!!

  32. yesman001

    Tabbed browsing has been working for me until today, the only thing I recall being changed is to add the Google taskbar to IE7. I have no idea if that cased the issue or not but it is something to check out. BTW, neither the normal Tools-enable tabbed browsing or merging the REG file did anything to IE7, I hope there is a real solution that works for all somewhere. THX.


    Hey guys, do I have a good one for you or what.

    Ok we have some employees who are going to unproffessional websites, but because of heavy restrictions we arent even allowed to place programs on these computers that would monitor them. Me and my boss attempted to dissable deleting browsing history using the method you can find on any tech website. After this is disabled you can not go into options and delete the history… But thanx to IE7 you simply click favorites star/history/ right click and delete… we have disabled right click but it allows it anyway only in IE. If anyone has any ideas let me know. I thought mabey a vb file that would copy history folder every half hour or so, but they cannot aprove any extras running in our backgrounds.

  34. Colin

    I put in the reg hack at the top of the page and it did not fix my problem. Does anyone know how to get my tabbed browsing section to unlock (not be grey)?

  35. gita

    I love having tabs on my ie7, my settings for that were a blank page but one day i had no tabs and i knew how to get the tabs back on.
    my problem is how do i get back to a blank page. i hate having viewed previous page as my new settings.
    some one please help me.

  36. dogman514

    maybe someone can help me with this problem in IE7 the tabbed browsing does not work i’ve enabled it but still nothing it keeps opening the window in the same location it does not open a new tab.

  37. Quinny Lawrence

    Have just used your registery hack to enable tabbed browsing in IE7 and it wored straight away. Brilliant! I have been trying the conventional way for months and never a tab in sight.

    Thanks a lot.

    Quinny Lawrence

  38. billy

    How can i stop all these blank pages from opnening?

  39. Behnam hassanpour

    Thanks for your trick.
    But how about open in new window ?How we can disable it?

  40. Lorne

    Tab browsing is the worst idea since the invention of computers. Get dual monitors and then you can control the way you want to browse.

  41. Salsan Jose

    Ok, here’s a question… is it possible to get links from outside IE (like Outlook) to open in a single instance of IE with new tabs?

    This is the biggest reason I wasn’t compelled to move to Firefox, didn’t offer me anything new and required me to learn new key combinations. (No debate about how IE’s key commands aren’t standard, I’ll grant you that point.)

    Avant has this feature, but it’s had a single shortcoming its entire life that’s prevented me from using it. Which I don’t get if it’s an IE shell… IE can do it, but Avant can’t.

    Anyhow, I was digressing. But seriously, if someone could kindly respond if they know a way to force all outside links to open in the same already open instance, I would appreciate it.

  42. Mr Space

    Why remove the tabs? Because:

    1. It creates a bigger screen size
    2. It makes the screen look less cluttered
    3. You already have the bar below telling you whats open, so why need two?

  43. John

    How do U turn off Tab Browsing in I.E.8.

    It wastes too much space at the top on laptops.

    I upgraded to 8 from 6 only when I learned I could turn off the Tab Browsing in I.E.7; but now it seems they have eliminated that choice.

  44. Nan

    I’m running IE7–can’t upgrade to IE8 because of another program I must run that doesn’t support IE8. So, tabs have stopped working. Although enable in tools, internet options, they’ve gone away. I have also done the regedit thing and it says tabs are enabled there as well. Any other suggestions to get tabs to work?

  45. David

    Dear HowtoGeek, I just downloaded your ENABLE TAB BROWSING zip file which fixed my IE7. Tab browsing works just fine now. I am a computer novice at best. I NEVER would have figured out how to do this. Thanks so much for your help! ~David

  46. olajide temitope

    i just upgraded window 7 starter to window 7 professional, any time that i try double clicking, it will show internet explorer has stop working and window is checking for solution online, and it will refresh, please how can i solve this problem????????????????????????

  47. kathy

    thank you, thank you, thank you.
    I am not a Windows novice, although I do prefer Unix (solaris certified, here). I downloaded ie8 and could not get the tabs to display. The tools item was greyed out, I knew i had to do a registry fix. I have been monkeying with this for HOURS. Finally found your website and VIOLA in 2 seconds I now have tabs. You are GREAT!!!
    THANK YOU!!!
    Blesssings of the lottery on you I hope you win millions!

  48. John

    I originally stumbled upon this page because I was trying to find online help for how to bring back the tab/favorites toolbar right below the address bar. At first I tried the “” reg file, then restarted, but that seemed to gray out the selection box for “Enable Tabbed Browsing” in the settings in Internet Options. Now, I went through the same process with the other zip file and restarted IE, only this time the toolbar appeared, but didn’t really do anything about Tabbed Browsing, except that it grayed out ALL of the text in the Tabbed Browsing Settings from Internet Options. So I’m stuck now. If anyone knows of a solution can you post it here? Thanks.

  49. John

    Actually, I just solved it myself. All I did was restart the computer from the start menu, instead of pressing the power button. I’m fine now!

  50. Mark

    I will try the above mentioned registry hack, cause I’ve been looking to disable these tabs for a long time.

    Reasons not to have tabs:
    If you have two tabs, in which there is interesting info to compare, you CAN NOT put these windows next to each other, because you CAN NOT resize a tab, you can only resize a window. And you cannot show two tabs at the same time (well, not in the same window that is). I’m sure that they will find some interesting way to do that, but hey : you can already do that with Internet Explorer 1, if you dont use tabbing. Why make things complex ?
    The other major drawback is that you easily lose track of one tab, because it is hiding in a window: the bar below only shows the title of the “open” tab in each windos, so you have to go through each window, and then through all tabs … while you could just have all windows with their titles below, if you dont have tabbing. Why make things complex when they are already simple.
    Another thing which strikes me is that indeed, sometimes he opens a window (on clicking), sometimes a tab. There seems to be no structure in it, which looks unstructured. If you have no tabs, you know what it will do.

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