Tabbed Browsing In Windows Explorer Is Possible. Here’s How You Can Get It

Windows explorer is annoying in the fact that it opens up a new window for every individual folder you open. For example, if I open the “Computer” directory and then I go to my Start menu and open my “Documents” directory, I’m stuck with two windows. Until recently, this problem was something we had to live with. Tabbed browsing, unfortunately, wasn’t implemented in Windows 8, despite the concept being an awesome idea. Some Linux distributions have been way ahead of Microsoft on this, and it’s about time we have our own tabs. You can do this now with a program called QTTabBar.

What Is QTTabBar?

QTTabBar is a tiny application (under 1 MB in the latest version at the time this article was written) that gives you the possibility of opening new tabs within Windows Explorer to browse your computer with nothing more than a single window. It doesn’t occupy a significant amount of resources even on the slowest computers and only requires that you have a compatible version of Windows installed.

How QTTabBar Looks

Let’s have a look at the interface in Windows 7:


Now, let’s have a look at how it looks like in Windows 8:


Both look kind of annoying because of those buttons. Let’s get rid of them.

In Windows 7, you can right-click above all the tabs and deselect “QTTabBar Standard Buttons.” This gets rid of your problem. In Windows 8, click “View” just below the title bar and click the downward arrow below “Options” on the right-hand side. This lets you deselect “QTTabBar Standard Buttons” for the same effect. Here’s a bit of guidance:


This effectively leaves just the tabs, which is all you wanted. There are some nice options in the button bar, but I personally just find them annoying. Your interface should now end up looking like this:


How To Open New Tabs

To open a new tab in QTTabBar, drag the folder you want to open in a new tab onto the bar with all the tabs. A new tab will open with the folder.

How To Close Tabs

To close a tab, you can either press “Ctrl + W” or right-click the tab and click “Close.” Be sure not to right-click the tab’s icon. Do this instead on the name of the tab.

Overall Impressions

I’m very ecstatic about QTTabBar, and it seems like a very promising application. I’m especially happy that it works on Windows 8 because I plan to migrate to that operating system once it’s released. QTTabBar has its drawbacks, though. For example, it would be nice to be able to open a new tab with “Ctrl + T” that opens to a default folder, much like how Chrome and Firefox work. Also, I’d like for every single folder I open outside of Windows Explorer to open within that one window. If I click “Documents” from the Start menu, for example, it will still open in a new window. It gets kind of annoying and QTTabBar doesn’t even offer the “drag & drop” option for folders that are found within the Start menu. Hopefully, future versions can address these problems.


Let’s hear what you have to say about QTTabBar. If you have any suggestions for configuration or reviews, please feel free to use the comments section for this.

You can download QTTabBar at this link.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez
Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox