Time Saving Tuesday

It is very common for a Windows user to have several Explorer windows open at the same time, which can quickly start to clutter up your Taskbar. At any given time I think I have between 2 and 5 explorer windows open at the same time, mostly because I’m normally working with files in many different locations on my PC. I thought to myself that there had to be a better way to reduce some of the clutter, so I sought out to find something that would not only get the job done, but get it done without costing me a penny.

QTTabBarI searched around for a little while stumbling across some software that I thought might work, but nothing that compelled me to try and install it. One of the last ones that I found was called QTTabBar (download mirror), and the homepage had some screenshots that demonstrated all of the functionality that I was looking for. I went looking around Google for some other people that may have written about the program because when it is possible, I like to read about things before I go and install them. Almost all of the Google search results were in Japanese though, so I figured heck with it and proceeded with the installation process.

Before starting the installer I decided to read the manual that the program came with (I know, geeks aren’t supposed to read those things :) ). I didn’t see anything abnormal and noticed that they also include installation instructions for manually setting up QTTabBar. The window pictured to the right is the only thing you’ll see when installing, and it is just a one-click process, so it is painless (XP users will need to make sure .NET Framework 2.0 or 3.0 is installed, Vista users already have it installed).

To get QTTabBar up and running on Vista (that’s what I’m using) this is what you’ll have to do:

  • After restarting Windows you’ll need to open Explorer. On Vista you need to enable the Menu Bar by going to Organize -> Layout -> Menu Bar. QTTabBar makes use of the Menu Bar to show the tabs.
    QTTabBar Menu Bar
  • Right click on toolbar and check QT TabBar. You can also check QT Tab Standard Buttons if you want quick access to things like recently closed tabs, but I didn’t feel a need for those since it is all available through the right-click menu. You can hide the Menu Bar (File, Help, etc…) by pressing Alt + M after you’ve enabled QTTabbar.
    Enable QTTabBar
  • Note: You should probably restart Explorer after enabling QTTabBar.

Now that you have QTTabBar all setup you can start enjoying the benefits that it has to offer…primarily the tabs! Look at what a nice interface this is now:


Pretty sweet lookin’ huh? I like how the tabs overflow into another row if there are too many to see on the screen at one time, and the abundant list of options in the right-click menu is also a nice feature. The keyboard fanatics out there will surely enjoy the keyboard shortcuts that make use of familiar commands:

Ctrl + Tab: select next tab
Ctrl + Shift + Tab: select previous tab
Ctrl + Num0 – Num9: select a tab directly
Ctrl + W: close current tab
Ctrl + Shift + W: close all but current and locked
Ctrl + Shift + Z: restore a tab
Ctrl + O: open dialog for folder
Ctrl + L: lock/unlock current tab
Ctrl + Shift + L: lock/unlock all tabs
Ctrl + N: clone current tab
Alt + Left/Right: go back/forward
Alt + Ctrl + Left/Right: go back to the start/forward to the end
Alt + F4: close window
Alt + ,: show application menu
Alt + .: show current tab menu
Alt + M: show/hide menu bar (Vista only)

Now that I have this installed, I do have to admit that my Taskbar is never as cluttered as it used to be. If it sounds like something that you want to try out just head on over to QTTabBar’s homepage or download it straight from our mirror.