From web browsers to applications, tabbed interfaces have turned into a standard, so having tabs in Windows Explorer can only seem like a logical choice. Sadly, the default Windows file browser doesn’t come with tabs but there are ways to solve this problem.
QTTabBar is a small free program that adds tabs in Windows Explorer plus multiple options to customize and enhance file & folder navigation and management. After using QTTabBar even for a short while and enjoying the revamped, less-cluttered Windows file manager, one could only ask “How did I live for so long without this?”
QTTabBar’s install process is as painless as it can get: the only setting you can do is choosing the destination folder and in a few seconds the program is installed with no adware or spyware included whatsoever. The program works on Windows XP, Vista and 7 with no additional requirements.
QTTabBar doesn’t have an actual interface. It installs as a shell extension in Windows Explorer and practically turns it into a tabbed browser. Its two toolbars, QTTabBar (the actual tab bar) and QTTabBar Standard Buttons (the program’s menu bar) can be enabled/disabled from Windows Explorer’s View/Toolbars option.
The QTTabBar Standard Buttons provide the main functions of the program and will let you open up a New Window, Clone This (open up a new tab), multiple close options – the window, the tab, all tabs except the current, left and right. There are also other interesting functions such as the Copy Tool, the Recently Closed list and the Groups tool.
Right-clicking on any button opens up a small menu that includes the Customize option from where you can tweak the appearance of the button menu, such as adding/removing buttons and changing their position.
QTTabBar adds multiple context menus, including one for the tabs. Right-clicking on a tab’s name will display various options, some of them also accessible from the buttons menu. From here you can also create a new group (with the option to add all open tabs to the newly created group), add the currently selected tab to an already existing group or reorder the tabs (this can also be done by drag & drop).
The program eases the file browsing process in more than one way. By right-clicking on a tab’s icon button will display a pop-up menu of all the folder’s contents. Holding the mouse above any subfolder in the content area will display a small blue arrow that reveals a cascade menu and lets you directly access any of the subfolder’s contents.
Another useful context menu can be accessed by right-clicking on a blank area of the tab bar. “Options” is the most important item in this menu as it opens up QTTabBar’s settings. This is the place from where you can configure some of the most important aspects of the program, such as mouse actions, program shortcuts, Group management, appearance and the list goes on. There’s an incredible number of available customizations and while most of them are pretty straightforward the Options menu can be confusing for non-technical users. On the other hand, if you just want a tabbed Windows Explorer, QTTabBar will give you that even with the default settings.
- Easy, adware-free installation.
- Seamless integration into Windows Explorer context menu.
- Provides a large number of settings and customizations for users to tweak their tabbed Windows Explorer.
- Extendable functionality via plugins.
- Support is limited to a community forum. The extensive list of features and options are in great need of a comprehensive, properly organized help file.
QTTabBar is not exactly a tool for non-technical users even though it does provide a tabbed Windows Explorer without manually tweaking its settings. Nevertheless, its unending number of customization options is what makes this tool truly powerful and gives you much more than just a tabbed file manager.