Tabbed browsing is a feature that I first encountered 10 years ago in Firefox’s previous incarnation, Firebird. Since then, tabs have popped up in almost every realm related to user interfaces. They make it easy to view lots of data in specific, organized chunks and once you’ve grown used to them, there’s no going back. So why doesn’t Windows Explorer have tabs?
Who knows. Fortunately for us all, a number of hobby programmers felt that Windows would be much improved if it did have tabbed browsing. Imagine how much time and space you could save if you only needed one window with multiple tabs instead of a bunch of windows clogging up your screen.
Here are 3 programs that will add tab functionality to your Windows.
Out of all the tabbed explorer programs I’ve seen, Clover 2 simply looks the best out of them if we’re strictly talking about aesthetics. The tabs appear along the top, as expected, and they look exactly like the tabs you’d find in Chrome. The tabs can be rearranged smoothly and they open/close without any hitches.
The one drawback that I experienced was the cumbersome nature of opening new tabs. If you drag a folder to the tab bar, it will open itself in a new tab. Right-clicking does not present an option, nor does middle-clicking open it in a new tab. Without the ease of tab creation, I feel less inclined to use this. However, if that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, then you’ll love Clover 2.
Clover 2 is developed by Chinese programmers, so the website may confuse you and it won’t offer much in terms of information (unless you can read Chinese). However, the download link is prominent, so it shouldn’t prove troublesome.
Admittedly, QTTabBar is my preferred tab explorer program on this list. It may not look as aesthetically pleasing as Clover 2, but it integrates flawlessly into Windows and doesn’t intrude as much. The tabs are neat and unobtrusive, which means you gain the benefits without having to be distracted.
But most of all, I like QTTabBar because opening folders in new tabs is simple: middle-click. Plus, there are a ton of features that you can tweak to personalize the whole tabbing environment. For example, you can save all open tabs and reopen them automatically the next time you open Windows Explorer.
TabExplorer is good, but I like it the least out of the three on this list. It does what it sets out to do, which is to provide a means for the user to manage multiple windows with tabs. There are a few settings you can adjust, such as toggling TabExplorer on/off (for those times when you don’t want it). It’s not bad at all.
But compared to Clover 2 and QTTabBars, it does lack a bit in the area of performance. Opening and closing tabs does not feel very responsive (a small hiccup of lag). And personally, I don’t like that the tabs are situated outside of Windows Explorer itself.
By all means, give it a try and see if you like it. My criticisms of TabExplorer are mainly based on preference, so you may find that you like it the best. If so, all the more power to you.
Tabbed browsing. Who doesn’t love it? Having it available on Windows is nothing but convenient. Have I missed any other programs that add tab functionality to Windows? If so, please share them in the comments. I, for one, would love to see what else is available out there.
Image Credit: Folder Via Shutterstock