TidyTabs: Tabs for all Windows programs

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 12, 2016

TidyTabs is a free and commercial program for Microsoft Windows devices to add tabs to all windows using drag and drop operations.

While tabs have been very popular in the browser world for the last decade or so, the same cannot be said for the rest of programs that you run on Windows or other operating systems.

Most programs on Windows don't support tabs, but will spawn multiple program windows instead if you open several instances.

A range of programs has been created in the past to introduce tabs on Windows. Quite a few programs were created specifically for Windows Explorer. Programs like QTTabBar, Better Explorer, Clover or Tab Explorer all add tabs to Windows Explorer so that multiple locations can be accessed quickly using tabs.

A second range of programs was designed to introduce tabs on a system-wide level. Programs like WinTabber or Windows Tabifier used a shell approach, while Stick pinned tabs to the top of the screen.


TidyTabs takes the whole concept to a new level. It allows you to join program windows using simple drag and drop operations.

The free version is limited to three tabs per window max and several other restrictions. It does not allow you to reorder or rename tabs, use middle-clicks to close tabs, and does not support multi-monitor setups. The pro version does away with all those limitations for a one-time payment of $9.00.

Tabs are added automatically to each window, but they are not displayed when there is only one program attached to it.

You may move the mouse cursor to the top of the window to display that single tab.The tab is either displayed on top of the window if it is not at the very top of the screen, or in the main title bar of the program if it is.

You may then use drag and drop to merge the window with another open program window.  Once you have merged windows, tabs become visible in a semi-transparent design.

Tabs are closed when you close a program window, or when you right-click on a tab and select one of the closing options there (close active tab, other tabs, all tabs).

You may change the default behavior in the settings. First, you may open the appearance settings from the application's system tray icon to change tab transparency settings.

You can for instance set the transparency level of inactive windows to 0% which would mean that tabs would not be displayed anymore.

A switch to the behavior tab of the settings enables you to make single tabs visible as well, and to enable tabs when using full screen applications.

Another useful feature is the ability to set up exclusions. You may use a blacklist approach, which blocks programs you select from the program's functionality, or a whitelist approach which only allows programs on the list instead.

Closing Words

TidyTabs is a well designed program that does not use a whole lot of system resources while it is running.

The program is easy to use, and gives you full control over when tabs are displayed on the desktop.

It is compatible with all 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows starting with Windows 7 and going all the way up to the latest version. (via Deskmodder)

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  1. raindropm said on September 17, 2016 at 9:20 am

    FYI Martin,
    I recently found that the developer of the (in my opinion) ‘King of Tab’ : Clover, is coming back again with several updates! (since July and actively update a few times a months)
    The installer is in Chinese, but I see no malicious checkbox anywhere, so I assumed it’s ok to install.
    and yes, it work great on Windows 10.

    1. Dan said on December 4, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Yeah, but it also lost features it used to have, like themes, english, tab tearing, reopening last closed tab, etc. And the dev isn’t even responding to emails or the disqus anymore :( Plus it’s got pop-up ads and the update mechanism sets off AV programs. Something went fishy in that pond.

      1. raindropm said on December 5, 2016 at 3:41 am

        Have you test the latest version? (2 dec) The tab tearing/merging is back, though no theming option.

        I didn’t see any popup ads you mention, hmmm….strange. Well, other than broken English translation in some menu, I didn’t see it anything fishy. The dev release and new version/fix bugs every months, which is why I think he’s serious about making his software.
        Also the dev mention that Avira may trigger the software as false-positive, but well, it’s your choice to installed or not. :]

  2. Sam said on September 14, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Looks ugly to me. I’m using QTTabBar with “shine theme” (search deviantart) for years, elegance for the eyes!

    1. Croatoan said on September 14, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      One more QTTabBar lover.

      Tabbed explorer was in top 3 places for Win 10 community features. And Microsoft still didn’t listen.

  3. fena said on September 14, 2016 at 4:33 am

    does nothing win7 64 bit

  4. George said on September 12, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Nothing. A daemon is running but not doing much. Auto tab hide turn off, no tabs. No visual effect whatsoever. Win 7 Ult x86 SP1 on HP6910p. Is it me? or is this just borked?

    1. Navi Charlotte said on January 17, 2017 at 9:25 am

      You need to grab some program’s tab and drag&drop it into some other window tab, then they will stack. The same happened to me, i though the thing was broken

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on September 12, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      It worked fine for me, tested on a W10 machine though.

  5. Croatoan said on September 12, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    I use QtTab bar and 7+ Taskbar tweaker even on Win 10 Anniversary. Tabbed programs are showing only icon on taskbar and programs that aren’ capable of showing tabs have full width (icon and name).

    I would pay someone to improve and maintain QtTab bar. Everyone know how to use tabs and file preview is really nice option.

  6. Dan82 said on September 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    When I looked at the screenshots on the linked Deskmodder page, my first thought was immediately how useless this would be for me. The majority of my applications are displayed in a maximized window state, which would make this tool entirely useless. Then I took a look at the developer’s page and saw the tab-row becoming visible on the title bar if you mouse over the space.

    For a long time I have been using the 7+ Taskbar Tweaker, because it allows you to set separate configurations for each application id, both visually (show/hide labels) and functionally (combine, group). There are some scenarios where I wish for more space in the task bar, so for that reason alone I may be giving it a try to free up and outsource parts of the list of open applications somewhere else. Thanks for introducing me to another interesting tool.

  7. DarkTheme said on September 12, 2016 at 1:26 pm


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