Some of the most functional of Windows Vista's cool graphical elements are Windows Flip 3D and Live Taskbar Thumbnails. Both of these features use thumbnail images that allow you to visually scan through all of your open windows and select the one you want. In the case of Windows Flip 3D, you can press and hold the [Windows] key while you tap the [Tab] key to cycle through large thumbnail images of your open windows in a visual rolodex fashion, as shown in Figure A. (You can also use the arrow keys and your mouse wheel to perform the cycle operation.) With the Live Taskbar Thumbnails, you can cycle through smaller thumbnail images of your open windows by hovering your mouse pointer over the Taskbar, as shown in Figure B.
|Windows Flip 3D allows you to cycle through your open windows in a visual rolodex fashion.|
|The Live Taskbar Thumbnails display images as you hover over the taskbar.|
Now that Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Vista sports tabbed browsing, a feature that allows a single instance of Internet Explorer to open multiple pages, I started to wonder about a feature similar to Windows Flip 3D and Live Taskbar Thumbnails for managing tabs. Then, I realized that was what Quick Tabs was all about. Let's take a look.
While tabbed browsing isn't actually a Microsoft innovation, it is a new feature to Internet Explorer. As such, I'll start with a quick overview.
When you launch Internet Explorer, it will of course open your designated home page on the first tab. Just to the right you'll see a small tab that will display a blank page with a starburst on it when you hover your mouse over the tab, as shown in Figure C.
|When you hover your mouse pointer over the new tab, it will display a blank page with a starburst on it.|
When you click the small tab, a blank page will appear in Internet Explorer 7. You can then fill in the Address box to open another site in that tab. You can also right-click on any link on a Web page and select the Open in New Tab item from the pop-up menu. Of course, you can open as many tabs as you want; however, I'm sure that there is some limit to the number of tabs you can have open at one time.
If you regularly open the same set of sites on multiple tabs, you can take advantage of the Tab Group feature. This feature allows you to save your set of tabs as a group on the Favorites menu. To do so, you click the Add To Favorites ("+") button just left of the first tab and select the Add Tab Group to Favorites command, as shown in Figure D. Then later you can quickly open all of the sites by selecting the Tab group from the Favorites menu.
|You can save Tab Groups to the Favorites menu.|
Now that you have a basic idea of how tabs work in Internet Explorer 7, let's take a look at Quick Tabs. As I mentioned, you can open as many tabs as you want; however, once the amount of space allotted for the tabs fills up, Internet Explorer 7 uses arrow markers to indicate that other tabs are available, as shown in Figure E.
|Internet Explorer 7 uses arrow markers to indicate that other tabs are available.|
While these arrow markers provide a nice reminder that you have other tabs open, they aren't very helpful. However, if you click the Quick Tabs button, which lies between the Add To Favorites and the first tab, you'll see a window containing thumbnail views of all open Web pages in Internet Explorer 7, as shown in Figure F.
|The Quick Tabs window shows thumbnails of all open Web pages.|
You can jump to any tab/Web page by clicking on its thumbnail in the Quick Tabs window. Of course, you can close any tab/Web page by clicking on the close button.
Like the Windows Flip 3D and Live Taskbar Thumbnails, the Quick Tabs feature allows you to view live thumbnail images of all the pages you have open in Internet Explorer 7. This allows you to visually scan through the pages and quickly select the one that you want.
If you have comments or information to share about the Quick Tabs feature in Windows Vista's Internet Explorer, please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.