Add the tabbed user interface feature to Windows 7
I recently received an email from a reader who was looking for a way to add tabs to Windows 7's Windows Explorer. The reader is a Windows XP user who wants to move to Windows 7. He has been using QTTabBar in Windows XP for quite some time now and refuses to switch until he can find a suitable replacement that works in Windows 7.
Since I at one time used QTTabBar and loved it, I have a pretty good idea of this fellow's dedication to QTTabBar and his refusal to give up a tabbed user interface in Windows Explorer. Furthermore, like him, I too am surprised by the fact that Microsoft has not yet created a native tabbed user interface for Windows Explorer.
Now, I am aware that the folks behind QTTabBar are currently working on a version for Windows 7. However, it appears that it has been slow going for them and the new version is still in Beta. While I am sure that it will be a great product when completed, I can't really encourage everyone to use a Beta version for mission critical file management tasks.
However, I have discovered another tool called WindowTabs that can add tabs to every running application's Window and allows you to group these tabbed windows together as a single entity. As such, you can open multiple instances of Windows Explorer and group them together to create your own multi-tabbed version of Windows Explorer. It is very simple and works great!
In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll introduce you to WindowTabs and show you how to configure and use it.
Once you download WindowTabs, installing it is a simple procedure with the WindowTabs Setup Wizard, as shown. You can download and use WindowTabs at no cost with the limitation that you can only have three tabs per group. A single-user license is $19 and the registered version removes the three tab limit and includes one year of upgrades. And, WindowTabs is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, as well as both the 32- and 64-bit version of Windows 7.
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.
i don't wanna waste my screen space and beside they do the same thing if you wanna use the tabs go for it,
I downloaded WindowsTabs to evaluate it. I spend a lot of time migrating customers files from an old HDD to a new PC. Often the migration gets complicated because they have files in multiple user accounts and spread everywhere over the drive. I downloaded the trial copy and if I can get it setup to run on a flash drive so I only have to buy 1 user license it is worth the $19 bucks but otherwise no. The navigation is not as good as I would like, but if I can get it to run on a flash drive I will let everyone know.
I disagree with the nay-sayers. I love the Win7 taskbar, but switching between instances of a program is not optimal. I tend to have the mouse near the top of the screen, so switching instance means moving the mouse to the bottom of the screen, hovering over the icon, waiting for the previews to appear then clicking on the right one and moving to the top of the screen again. Tabs change workflow to move to top of the screen and click on the desired tab. The tab you want is always visible, and it (for me) is much closer to the mouse. It also offers functionality above what the taskbar does. I am not aware of any keyboard shortcut to switch between instances of a program (I know Win+1 etc but that doesn't do instances). WindowTabs lets you do alt+left and alt+right switch between instances, and because all the instances are visible on screen at once it's completely deterministic; you know exactly where to go. So personally, I find this to be much faster. It also treats the grouped windows as one. All the grouped windows resize together, and move together. Again, this is functionality over what the taskbar provides. I have wanted tabbed explorer for a while, so was impressed to see that you can have the tabs show only for programs you specify. I am finding I am relying on the tabbed functionality very quickly though, so have turned it back on for all programs. This includes IE which already has tabs, because it's nice to be able to quickly jump to other IE instances. This is something I have found cumbersome in the past.
Is there a way to set some default tabs that open when you open Windows explorer. So when you open it, it will have a tab for documents, one for downloads, and one for my computer? This would be helpful
With Windows XP, TweakUI from Microsoft Powertoys can the ability to group similar windows on the Windows Task Bar, which became native in Windows Vista and Windows 7. To have the added convenience of a tabbed Windows Explorer would be a plus. However, would it be a plus to have that convenience for $20 per year? I'm a bit discomfited when newsletter articles read like banner ads for trialware. Because at that point, it ceases to be Technical Journalism and becomes a Corporate sposored propiganda sheet. I will try the beta of QTTabBar and if it proves as beneficial as I think it might be, I will pen a note to Microsoft and suggest such an obvious feature might be included in a future Service Pack, or Update of the Windows Explorer environment. Maybe they will embrace pethers remark; "Tabs? isn't that what the Windows Task bar is for??? Why would you waste screen space adding tabs when you can switch between windows from the task bar? Duplication of functionality really... ho hum" ... As their own?
Why would you waste screen space adding tabs when you can switch between windows from the task bar? Duplication of functionality really... ho hum
I find I use both, there are times I will have multiple instances of Firefox open and other times I will have multiple tabs... really depends on the task at hand. If I'm just browsing and need to quickly look at another site, I may use a new tab... if I'm comparing two things, I like the quick Alt+Tab method, so I'll open a new instance. Really just another option and more options are good IMHO...
...if you prefer the taskbar as your main means of switching between windows, would you be willing to give up the tabs in your browser: Internet Explorer/Firefox/Chrome or whatever browser you are using?
with dual monitors, the taskbar can be a long way from where you are working. Also there is a delay to see which of the multiples you want. The tabs are close by and instantly readable for selection
There is a difference, the tab at the top of the window makes for faster file transfer between folders you have to at least try it before making a decision I like it. Try it if you don't like it fine.
Millions use tabs for browsing- they find it more convenient then the taskbar. When firefox came out with tabs- I wonder if there were skeptics who said "ho hum".
Yes, this was my first thought too. There may be a difference, though, if one uses many Explorer windows (or many windows of other applications). The task bar can become crowded soon (I normally use two lines of it), and Windows 7 starts to group the windows of the same application. Then, you can move the mouse pointer over the group, wait a little bit until Windows displays the members of the group, move over the desired one, and select. I believe this does very similar to the tabbed window. I think it is a matter of personal preference. In general, one has to make decisions when moving from one version of the operating system (or Office, or any other application) to the other. We can either try to work the same way as we did in the old version, and try to configure the new software to look like the old one, or adjust our behaviour and ways of usage to the new (and changed) features and possibilities of the new version. I have tried both approaches over the time, and I cannot tell which one is better. Nowadays, I usually switch to the new style and interface quickly because I believe that the little extra time that I invest in learning the new ways pays off at the end of the day.
the tab at the top of the window make transferring files faster? Does the tab have a special compression/speed boost protocol?
Will a "universal window" make sense? A single window where you have tabs for system folders, web pages and programs running all integrated in a single tabbed window, kind of what the task-bar does right now but I like the idea of switching tabs between file folders, programs and web pages in a more unified way.
... by MicroSoft. If everyone who wants tabs in other windows besides IE tells Microsoft about it, they will listen. After all, IE9 added several features that had been a part of Google Chrome for quite a while. Even though people may not have directly told MS they liked those specific features, the dramatic jump in Chrome's popularity sent the same message. However, since MS doesn't have an alternative to QTTabBar or WindowsTabs, they can't really make the same comparison of their product to someone else's. The best way to let someone know what you want has always been to just come right out and tell them. Now, having said all that, I am not interested in tabbed functionality for other windows. I love using tabs in Internet Explorer, but I'm perfectly content using the taskbar thumbnails for other apps. Personally, my taskbar is four lines tall. I have created tool groups on it for my Desktop icons (I figure what's the point in applying Desktop wallpaper if it's plastered with icons, so I hide them from the Desktop itself), the Quick Launch toolbar (which you have to hunt down now, since it's not a native toolbar anymore), My Computer, and my Links folder (the Favorites section at the top of Windows Explorer's navigation pane). I have the running applications section only two lines high, and only about 1/3 of the screen width, and I have the running app tabs reduced to just their icon, and have them grouped together from the start, not just when there are too many of them. Then I have the whole mess set on autohide so I don't lose all that screen real estate. I think the taskbar thumbnail previews are much better than just a bunch of tabs. The window titles that would end up on tabs often don't tell me enough to know which tab has what I want, and with the thumbnails, I can actually see all the windows themselves, making it easier to pick the one I want. I even use the taskbar thumbnails to choose from among my open IE tabs when their titles are too ambiguous to know which one I want. Like PalKerekfy, I have tried both methods - trying to configure the new version to look like the old one I was used to, or adjusting my usage to the new one - and both methods indeed have their merit. So I usually wind up doing a little of both. I had actually put off upgrading away from Office 2000 until this year when I bought two new Windows 7 laptops, and couldn't get Office 2000 to install on them. Now that I am used to using the new Ribbon in Office 2010, I wish I had upgraded to Office 2007 back when it introduced the Ribbon years ago. But I still use some of the old menu keyboard shortcuts because they're still faster than using the mouse to navigate the Ribbon. It all boils down to personal preference. And like I said at the start, if you want tabbed functionality in Windows Explorer (and other windows), the best way to let Microsoft know it remains the direct approach, and with at least two third-party programs designed for such functionality, there are plenty of users who want it. If enough people tell Microsoft, they will get the message.
After installing window-tabs I expected only to see tabs from the system folders but it also tabs the browser and other programs like itunes so you can have a group of tabs that includes file folders, a browser and music software. QTTabBar only tabs folders in a bar on the same window but window-tab is a "universal window" to save screen space you can auto-hide the task-bar and for Firefox you have to change the "tabs on top" option because the tabs overlap at the top, I like it so far, It may be worth the $20 for additional features.