Add A Colorful Tabbed Interface To Windows Explorer

Even though Windows has evolved from Win 95 to Windows 8, the Windows Explorer doesn’t seem to have go through much changes. While many other applications have adopted the tabbed interface, Microsoft has stubbornly refused to add tabs to the Windows Explorer. It may have added ribbon UI, but that’s all to it.

To get tabs in Windows Explorer, we have previously come up with solutions, including QT TabBar, Explorer++ and WinTabber. Today, we will discuss about another tabs add-on, but with a twist. It will create colorful tabs that make it easier for us to identify which tab we want to open. The name of the add-on is TabExplorer.

When TabExplorer is started for the first time, it will give you an option to enable or disable tabbed interface. You can enable or disable this feature at any time and it does not require you to restart your computer. Just uncheck the option and it will be done immediately. TabExplorer also gives an option to auto-run at system startup so that you always get the tabs feature when you start Windows.

TabExplorer start screen

When you click on “Enable Tab Explorer”, another option will be shown right next to it. The option is “Rainbow tabs”. If you enable this option, you will get colored tabs.

Rainbow Tab

After you have selected the options from the first options screen, the new Windows Explorer windows will be opened in new colorful tabs in the single Explorer window. The tabs are added on the top of Windows Explorer which will not clutter Windows Explorer window.

If you have a lot of tabs open, you may find that the title of the tab get hidden and becomes difficult for you to identity what is in which tab. TabExplorer solves this problem by providing a drop down list of open tabs. This will give you the titles of the open tabs, thus, making it easier to choose and open the desired tabs.

TabExplorer drop down menu

In my opinion, these menu options are very similar to the context menu option on Mozilla Firefox. The context menu of TabExplorer gives a lot of options. The options include opening of new tab, cloning of tab, close one tab or all the tabs. You can also selectively close the tabs like close tabs on the right or left hand side of the active tab or close all the tabs except the active tab. The best option, in my opinion, is that TabExplorer lets you reopen last closed tab. It also gives a list of recently closed tabs. You can select from the list of recently closed tabs and open the tab again.

TabExplorer context menu

The feature that I miss in TabExplorer is the scarce use of keyboard shortcuts. I wish, the publisher of this wonderful software would create more keyboard shortcut mappings for doing tasks with Windows Explorer.

If you ever want to reconfigure the options of TabExplorer we have discussed earlier, you can do so by right clicking on the cloud icon (TabExplorer icon) in the system tray. The software works fine on Windows 7 as well as Windows 8.

What are your thoughts about this nifty little add-on software? Will you be using it on your work computer for enhanced productivity? What do you currently prefer to use for tabifying Windows Explorer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Download TabExplorer from the publisher’s site.


  1. This comment is not exactly on topic… :->

    If anyone knows a Windows program that allows to color file names, please post details of it.
    I would like to be able to see the color of a file name with no matter what software I am using to open/use/view/save such files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Windows Explorer, etc. etc.).

    • I’m not sure what you’re looking for but if you are looking for color coding folders, you can user folder marker:

      Windows gives us three colors for file names, black, blue and dark red. Black files are normal files, blue files are compressed files and dark red files are encrypted files. You can make use of these features to color code some of your files without any third party software.

      Caution: Please use encryption feature with caution because the files will become irrecoverable if Windows gets corrupt.

      • Thanks, Sanix!
        Well, I am looking for something similar to Folder Maker — only it has to be able to color _file names_ instead of folders!

        I give you one example of what I have in mind:
        The idea would be to assign a specific (custom) color (red, for instance) to all those Excel/Word/PowerPoint etc. files that deal with a specific project. Upon launching Microsoft Excel/Word/PowerPoint etc. and doing File-> Open, the window that pops up would show files with different colors (red, blue, green, etc.) and it would be easy for me to select and open all those that are red…

        I know… There are other ways to open related files. I could for instance give them similar names such that they all show up close to each other. Or I could put them all under a folder, etc. etc.

        I just think that for a guy like me, being able to assign custom colors to file names would help.

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