Add Tabs, Dual-Pane View and Classic Features to Windows Explorer

Microsoft is continuously improving Windows Explorer (also known as My Computer or This PC) and adding new features to it in newer Windows versions. For example, Microsoft added Ribbon UI to Windows Explorer in Windows 8 and later, improved file copy/move dialog boxes a lot with the addition of pause/resume functionality, added new Quick Access or Home view in Windows 10 Explorer, etc.

But one major feature is still missing in Windows Explorer which is the tabs support. We use tabs functionality in web browsers which allow us to open multiple webpages in tabs within single web browser window. The same feature should be present in Windows Explorer as well so that we can open multiple drives and folders within single Explorer window. It'll help a lot in managing files and folders in Windows Explorer.

At the moment, we can only hope that some day Microsoft will add tabs feature in Windows OS. In the mean time we can use 3rd party software to add tab functionality to Windows Explorer.

If you are following this website since the good ol' Windows XP days, you might remember a freeware called "QTTabBar" which could add tabs functionality to Windows XP and Windows Vista Explorer. We blogged about this tool long time back at following link:

QTTabBar: Freeware to Add Web Browser Style Tab Feature to Windows Explorer

After some time the developer "Quizo" stopped working on the tool and Windows 7 users couldn't use this awesome tool.

Fortunately in 2011, a new developer "Paul Accisano" started working on the tool again and released a new version of QTTabBar with support for Windows 7. We blogged about it at following link:

QTTabBar Now Supports Windows 7 and Later, Adds Tab Feature to Windows Explorer

Now here is a good news! The original developer "Quizo" has started working again on the tool and he has released a new version of QTTabBar which now supports Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10.

So if you are using Windows 7 or later, you can install QTTabBar to add tabs functionality and many other useful features to Windows Explorer.

Following are some major features of QTTabBar:

  • Adds tabs functionality to Windows Explorer
  • Adds dual-pane view to Windows Explorer
  • Adds classic toolbars to Windows Explorer similar to Classic Shell
  • Brings many classic features back to Windows Explorer
  • Shows instant previews of images, text and media files
  • Allows many other system tasks such as repairing icon cache, clearing history, etc.

Now lets talk about QTTabBar features in details:

When you install QTTabBar in Windows, you'll need to enable the Tab Bar and other toolbars manually. If you are using Windows 7, press ALT key in Windows Explorer to show Menubar and then enable desired QT toolbar from View menu. If you are using Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10, click on View tab in Ribbon and then click on drop-down arrow given under Options button and there you can enable desired QT toolbars.

Enable_QTTabBar_Toolbar_Windows_Explorer.png

Adding Tab Bar to Windows Explorer:

To show tab bar in Windows Explorer, enable QTTabBar option and it'll immediately enable Tab Bar in Windows Explorer. Now you can open multiple tabs in Windows Explorer by right-clicking on any folder or drive and selecting "Open in New Tab" option. You can also quickly open drives and folders in tabs by pressing and holding CTRL key and double-clicking on the drive or folder.

Enable_Tabs_Windows_Explorer.png

You can right-click on Tab Bar and select "Toolbars -> Tab Bar (bottom)" option to show Tab Bar at bottom in Windows Explorer. To show the Tab Bar again at top, right-click on Tab Bar again and select "Toolbars -> Tab Bar" option.

Adding Toolbars to Windows Explorer:

If you want to show classic toolbars in Windows Explorer, enable "QT Command Bar" and "QT Command Bar 2" option from View and it'll add classic toolbars to Windows Explorer:

Enable_Classic_Toolbar_Windows_Explorer.png

You can also add a vertical toolbar in Windows Explorer by selecting "QT Command Bar (vertical)" option in View.

You can right-click on the toolbar and add/remove desired buttons. You can also customize text labels and toolbar icon size from the context menu. If you want to customize or remove any particular toolbar button, right-click on the button and select desired option. You can change button's icon, text label or you can remove the button from toolbar.

Dual-Pane View in Windows Explorer:

Now lets talk about Dual-Pane view! You can add an extra folder pane in Windows Explorer at left or bottom to manage multiple files/folders quickly and easily. Enable either "Extra View (left)" or "Extra View (bottom)" option or both options from View and it'll add dual-pane/triple-pane view to Windows Explorer. Now you can open 2 or 3 drives or folders at the same time in a single tab and move/copy files/folders easily.

Dual-Pane (Bottom):

Dual_Pane_View_Bottom_Windows_Explorer.png

Dual-Pane (Left):

Dual_Pane_View_Left_Windows_Explorer.png

To remove the extra folder panes, deselect the Extra View options from View.

Instant Previews of Images, Text files and Media files:

QTTabBar also adds automatic image, text and media files preview feature to Windows Explorer. Just hover mouse cursor over an image, text or a video file and you'll get instant preview of the file:

Image_Text_Media_Files_Preview_Windows_Explorer.png

QTTabBar Settings and Options:

QTTabBar is also very customizable. It allows you to customize or disable almost all its features. To open QTTabBar settings, open Windows Explorer and either press ALT+O keys together or right-click on QTTab Bar and select "QTTabBar Options". You'll be surprised to see the big list of available options in its Settings window:

QTTabBar_Options.png

You can customize the number of items to be shown in recent files and recent tabs list. You can also set QTTabBar to automatically clear these items upon log off. You can customize tab appearance, toolbars appearance, Extra View appearance, menus style, keyboard shortcuts, enable/disable automatic preview of image, text and media files, sound events and much more.

Enable Classic Features in Windows Explorer:

Apart from customizing these things, QTTabBar also allows to enable some classic features in Windows Explorer which are as following:

  • Disable full-row select feature (Check this)
  • Show column headers always in all views (Check this)
  • Show watermark images for customized folders
  • Show selected column in different custom colors in Details view

To enable these classic features, go to "Compatible Folder View" tab in Settings and enable "Compatible list view style" option. Now you can enable/disable desired classic feature.

Disable_Full_Row_Select_Enable_Column_Headers_Windows_Explorer.png

Other Useful Features:

You can also enable following two interesting features using QTTabBar settings:

  • Minimize Explorer windows to System Tray (Check this)
  • Lock/restrict Explorer windows resizing

You can enable these features from "Window" tab in QTTabBar settings:

Minimize_Windows_System_Tray.png

Once you enable these features, whenever you minimize an Explorer window, it'll be minimized as an icon in System Tray (Notification Area) in Taskbar. You can double-click on the icon to restore Explorer window. Second option will disable resizing ability on Explorer windows. If you enable this option, you'll not be able to resize any Explorer window.

Perform Few Useful System Tasks in QTTabBar Settings:

QTTabBar also allows users to perform some important system tasks which are:

  • Repair and rebuild shell icon cache (See point 19 here)
  • Clear window size, position and view settings from Registry (Check this)
  • Save and restore desktop icon positions (Check this)
  • Clear history in RUN dialog box, addressbar, search box, Start Menu (Check link 1, link 2)

Just go to "Misc" tab in QTTabBar settings and then click on "Shell" tab and there you can use desired option.

Save_Restore_Desktop_Icons_Positions_Windows.png

Desktop Tool Feature:

QTTabBar also comes with "Desktop Tool" feature which shows a list of recent tabs, recent files, applications, desktop files and groups whenever you double-click on Desktop or Taskbar. You can customize it by adding "QT Tab Desktop Tool" toolbar from Toolbars menu in Taskbar context menu:

Enable_QTTabBar_Desktop_Tools.png

Once you enable it, an invisible icon will be added in System Tray which can be accessed by hovering the mouse cursor just before the first icon in system tray. Now you'll see QT icon. Right-click on the icon and you'll be able to customize and change QT Tab Desktop Tool appearance and functionality:

QTTabBar_Desktop_Tools.png

So you can see QTTabBar is an ultimate tool to add tabs, toolbars and classic Windows XP style features to Windows Explorer in Windows 7,8/8.1 and Windows 10 operating systems.

You can download it using following link:

Download QTTabBar for Windows 7 and Later

It supports both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows editions.

Thanks to our reader "mykou" for sharing the update about new version...





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Posted in: Software, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1


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Comments

  • Hi VG and nice to you to make a topic for last QTTAB :)

    I was glad to share this with you and you welcome !

    Regards

    mykou

  • PS: you can also chosse custom color to apply on explorer background ( view panel and tree panel)

    useful for those who get bored with teh same "white" explorer background .

  • VG

    ^^ The new QTTabBar version comes with so many features. It took hours in testing them and creating this topic. My hands and fingers are paining atm. ;)

  • lol

    I just wait now for someone to release a tool to make custom picture background possible like windows 7 background changer or similar :) and it be wonderful !

    I currently use as addons tools like "your menu " ( for custom right clic context menu ) " everything search" and '" dropit" as automating software and all of them make your windows 10 very cool and efficient :)

  • Where have you have been QTTABBAR?

  • Thanks for the review it's really a great program, one of my favorites. Hope they'll improve it even further!

  • Do you know how to disable the back/forward buttons that are left positioned to the tabs? I do not mean the windows explorer native ones, I mean the QTTabBar buttons :( thanks

  • @Jaime
    QTTabBar Options - Toolbars - Show navigation buttons in Tab Bar set to none.

  • If I'm not wrong, this tool is still being developed by Quizo,

    Paul Accisano left the project due to lack of time and experience (or something like that). He made a fork of QTTabBar, but after a year it got harder to keep.

    Fortunately Quizo came back, both discussed the way QTTabbar should go and finally QTTabBar went to its owner's hands.

  • Finally an update for this wonderful program!

  • You can change the theme to match with w8 or w8.1 or even w10

  • Hey Vishal,
    I am getting a down arrow ahead of every folder after installing QTTabbar which list the files and folders inside..May I know how to disable it as it freezes sometimes
    Sorry if i miss out something from your article

  • @sumit

    you have to go in QTtab options ( right clic on next on any tab ) >submenu folder

    there uncheck "enable sub folder menu"

  • VG why you no date your articles?

  • Tried it a few years ago - gave up because it kept crashing, getting in the way of work and affecting productivity.

    Switched to FreeCommander ever since - unbeatable! and very stable!

  • How to unintstall QtTabBar?

  • VG

    ^^ You should be able to uninstall it from Control Panel -> Programs and features.

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