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windows explorer tabbed browsingTabbed 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.

Clover 2

windows explorer tabbed browsing

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.

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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.

QTTabBar

windows explorer tabs

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

windows explorer tabbed browsing

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.

Conclusion

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

  1. Eric Robinson
    November 4, 2016 at 2:22 am

    how do i uninstall clover? win 8.1 here

  2. Paul
    July 28, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Clover 3 detected by Windows Defender as Trojan Win32/Spallowz.A!cl

  3. Trevor
    February 14, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Tab explorer leaves a blank tab that you can't get rid of in W10.

  4. Tomáš Vician
    July 29, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    I have tried every of theese on my tablet (w8, 2GB ram, 1,33 Ghz CPU)
    - Clover 2 is pretty nice and I like how it looks. But it's little bit laggy.
    - QTTabBar is the best what I met. Tons of settings and customization. You can set height and width of tabs, background color, images and much more.
    - TabExplorer is simple, small and you can make it to be portable. But don't support drag and drop to tabs.
    That is my experience :)

  5. Leonardo Pereira
    July 17, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I tried the Clover 3 and QTTabBar and I like QTTabBar better.

    Clover 3 does have tabs, but it's laggy for me for some reason, ymmd.

    QTTabBar has tabs plus other neat stuff which I didn't even know I wanted. Like soft pop up previews of images and navigating sub-directories through a dropdown menu instead of clicking on them.

    I don't think either is perfect, and maybe QTTabBar is too cluttered. But I like it more.

  6. ???
    June 6, 2015 at 1:58 am

    good

  7. A PC User
    May 4, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Tell me Which uses lowest system resources

  8. Yogi Lee
    February 16, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    How do you toggle TabExplorer on/off?

  9. Martin Kirk
    January 26, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Take a look at BetterExplorer which is a Win8 version of explorer for Win7, which also adds tabs.

    Sadly its full of bugs :(

  10. Maarten
    January 24, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Clover looks way best

  11. BH Cheong
    December 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Thank you for the link that led me to the Clover site. Clover 3 (uploaded 2014.01.26) is now available. I'm quite happy using it now.
    New folder tab has been created successfully as expected. I don't have any issue dragging a folder to the tab bar. Letting go the drag for a folder on/to an existing tab and a blank space on the tab bar, the effects are different . . . unless I misunderstood the issue mentioned in your comment. :) or maybe the feature has been improved in Clover 3.
    I went to QTTabBar site, the last update is 2013.05.30. I will give it a try later when I don't feel happy with Clover. :)
    Thank you so much for introducing the great tools.

  12. ReadandShare
    December 19, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Jumped in late... I like the aesthetics of Clover but I also agree with the superior ease of use / functionality of QTTab. Wish QTTab can copy the aesthetic designs from Clover. I am sure the Chinese won't mind being copied once in a while... :)

  13. love247
    November 12, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Wow this is incredible! I installed QTTabBar, It has everything I ever needed, especially the recently closed, I always wanted that ;)
    Once you get used to it, you will never get back to the original explorer..
    Thank you ??

    • love247
      November 12, 2012 at 10:01 am

      I meant to draw hearts but they appeared as ??
      :)

      • Joel Lee
        November 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm

        Haha, no problem. Glad you could benefit from one of these programs. :)

  14. Easton Wiki
    November 12, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I tried them all and Clover 2 wins for me. It is just so much better looking for the layout

  15. Douglas Mutay
    November 9, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I have tested Clover 2. It's quite nice. BUT! I have seen that sometime even when I unplug a usb device it was still showing it in the explorer. And when you plug the device again, you now can't see it. I have uninstalled it and Windows Explorer automaticaly saw it. So I thing it's a nice app but still need a few fix!

    • Rubis Song
      February 1, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Agree with you. Had the same experience and finally uninstalled it.

  16. Anonymous
    November 9, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Been looking for some tools like these that is equivalent to Total Finder on OS X. Will try them to see which is the best.

  17. Douglas Mutay
    November 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Clover 2 seems to be the most beautiful

  18. Debarshi Bhattacharjee
    November 4, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    thanks...now i am a clover 2 user!

  19. Jon Smith
    November 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    never had a need to add tabs in the explorer haha

  20. Francisco de Gusmão
    November 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Clover is great! I'm already using it!

  21. Anwaar Ansari
    November 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Clover works flawlessly with Windows Explorer but the one problem I have is whenever I open a window.. the clover icon is opened... thats confusing sometimes

  22. Anonymous
    November 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    What about the tab I have at the local pub? Does it count :) Actually I've been using QTTabBar for some time and find it useful. Clover looks nice but I'm always careful when using Chinese software.

  23. Boni Oloff
    November 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Clover 2 has the most beautiful looks. I see the tabs like chrome :)

  24. Raghav Gupta
    November 3, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Got a new way to open windows from now

  25. Gary Mundy
    November 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I'm off to add yet another thing that I found out about from Make use of.
    Thanks

  26. druv vb
    November 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    This will surely help when viewing multiple folders, and not using the taskbar to switch between them. And it keeps the taskbar clean also.

  27. Nikhil Chandak
    November 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    it was amazing , like my chrome

    • Joel Lee
      November 3, 2012 at 12:04 am

      Good to hear! Thanks for sharing.

  28. Nikhil Chandak
    November 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    seems to be amazing
    never knew about these things
    gonna try out

  29. Anonymous
    November 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    The thumbnail in windows 7 and 8 itself serves as a super awesome tabs.

    • Joel Lee
      November 3, 2012 at 12:03 am

      In a way, that's true. But some people--like myself--don't like to use the thumbnails and have them disabled. :P

  30. Vikram
    November 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I uploaded clover 2 exe file to virustotal.com for checking for any malicious intent (as i do for any file that i don't download from popular download sites). 5 out of 36 scanners detected it as riskware. My kaspersky AV flagged it and showed it as 'not-a-virus:Monitor'. It described the program type as 'programs that are legitimate in themselves but have the potential to be misused by cyber criminals and to harm the user's confidential data'. Its possible it is being flagged only because of its function still 5 scanners flagging it is concern for me. Also TabExplorer exe file was shown OK in virustotal.com.

  31. Daniel Hartle
    November 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I use Clover and think it is fantastic and one of the best options out there.

  32. Dhruv Sangvikar
    November 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Clover is the one for me. u can open a folder in new tab by just pressing ctrl+left double clicking it.. ;)

    • Joel Lee
      November 3, 2012 at 12:02 am

      Oh, wasn't aware of that. Awesome!

  33. Tarek Ramadan
    November 2, 2012 at 8:57 am

    looks nice

  34. Umair Adil
    November 2, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I dont know why but i feel that these addons are making things more and more complicated.

    • Dhruv Sangvikar
      November 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      how??? the add a required missing functionality.. moreover they integrate flawlessly..

    • Joel Lee
      November 3, 2012 at 12:02 am

      Depends on your perspective. For some people, having tabs makes life easier. If you don't need it, then you shouldn't feel compelled to get it. Whatever is best for you. :)

  35. Bewar'of Codingdevil
    November 2, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Awesome post!

  36. Ahmed Khalil
    November 2, 2012 at 4:20 am

    i see Clover 2 shape is looks nice for me

  37. Sonny Bass
    November 2, 2012 at 2:44 am

    The right click menu has always worked fine for me in Clover. Love having my bookmark bar. If you are using Chrome it offers to translate the site for you

  38. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 2, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I use XYPlorer when I need tabbed interface (it's portable). If you're sharing your computer with someone else installing these programs to modify the native interface might not play well with your brother/friend etc.

    • Joel Lee
      November 3, 2012 at 12:01 am

      That's a little more complex than just tabs as XYPlorer replaces the whole explorer window, but it's a good program. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Garey Boone
    November 2, 2012 at 2:23 am

    +1 to QTTabBar simply the best imo

    • Joel Lee
      November 3, 2012 at 12:00 am

      Thanks for the reinforcement! :)

  40. josemon maliakal
    November 2, 2012 at 2:16 am

    Nautilus is better in the tabbed browser( For Ubuntu ) ,...Just a ctrl+T require..that makes it so easy to handle :)

    • Efi Dreyshner
      November 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Unfortunately, not everybody using Ubuntu :(

      • josemon maliakal
        November 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm

        Ya..that's true..But as a programmer and web developer, it is the best choice ..I don't prefer gamers to use Ubuntu ..But other unfortunate guys who's still using Windows ..please have a look at it (my expericence) ..http://www.texplod.com/ubuntu-the-best-choice-for-humans/

    • Efi Dreyshner
      November 2, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      I will try it when I will use Windows.
      Thanks :)

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