Vertical Tabs are now available to all Microsoft Edge Canary and Dev users

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 29, 2020
Internet, Microsoft Edge

Microsoft started to work on a vertical tabs implementation in the company's Chromium-based Microsoft Edge web browser some time ago. Designed to move tabs from the horizontal toolbar at the top of the browser interface to a sidebar, it is serving several purposes for users who enable it.

Two of the main advantages of using vertical tabs are that more tabs fit into the sidebar with full length page titles, and that this unlocks management options such as easy reordering of tabs.

The second advantage over the horizontal tab bar is that its removal frees up a bit of vertical space for the display of websites which in turn means more information is displayed directly on the screen. Granted, the sidebar takes away space and that may lead to some display issues on small resolution devices, but Microsoft did add an option that resolves that.

The vertical tabs feature was unlocked for some users only for testing purposes; even users who enabled vertical tabs on Edge's Experimental Flags page could not get it to work in the browser if they were not selected for the experiment; this has changed now as all users of Microsoft Edge Canary or Developer may use the feature (once updated to the most recent version).

How does it work?

Microsoft added a button to the Microsoft Edge tab bar that, when activated, switches between horizontal (default) and vertical tabs in the browser.

The icon is controlled by a preference in the Settings of the web browser. If you don't see it displayed or want it removed, open edge://settings/appearance in the browser's address bar and toggle the "show vertical tabs button" slider on the page under Customize toolbar. A blue slider means that the button to activate vertical tabs in Edge is enabled, a gray one that it is disabled.

Note: if you don't see the button or the setting, load edge://flags/#edge-vertical-tabs and set the flag to Enabled. You need to restart the Edge browser afterwards to complete the change.

A click on the vertical tabs button moves tabs to the sidebar and hides the main horizontal bar in the Edge browser. The button is moved to the sidebar as well, and you may activate it there to return to the horizontal tab bar at any time.

The process of switching between the two tab display forms is fluent. Users on low resolution devices may collapse the sidebar with a click on the "<" icon that is displayed in its header; this collapses most of the sidebar so that only favicons of the sites opened in the browser are displayed.

Vertical tabs have a number of features attached to them that users may make use of. Hold down the Ctrl-key and use the left mouse button to select multiple tabs and perform multiple operations on all of the tabs, e.g. by right-clicking and selecting mute tabs, adding them to the favorites of the browser, or pinning them to the tab bar. Reordering works with multiple tabs selected, just drag & drop the selection around.

Closing Words

The vertical tabs option in Microsoft Edge works well already, despite it being available only in Canary and Dev versions of the browser. There is still room for improvement, especially if you compare Microsoft's solution to extensions such as Tree Style Tabs which support more features such as tab hierarchies.

Now You: Vertical or horizontal tabs, what is your preference and why? (via Microsoft)

Article Name
Vertical Tabs are now available to all Microsoft Edge Canary and Dev users
Microsoft unlocked the new vertical tabs feature in the Canary and Dev versions of the company's Microsoft Edge browser.
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  1. Apps said on March 20, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    “The second advantage over the horizontal tab bar is that its removal frees up a bit of vertical space for the display of websites which in turn means more information is displayed directly on the screen”
    This is currently false. When in vertical tabs mode, the space that used to be occupied by horizontal tabs is now used to display the page title.
    So, no vertical space is gained due to vertical tabbing. Horizontal space is lost.

  2. Michel said on March 7, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    uh, it does not free up vertical space. the window title bar remains the same size whether it hosts tabs or not. why is everybody repeating this obviously false claim?

  3. Ann said on March 1, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    For those looking for a vertical tabs on Firefox, I’ve used lots of other extensions, but my current favorite is Sidebery (note the spelling):

  4. Schmurtz said on October 30, 2020 at 4:29 am

    Tree style tab is awesome. Just missing color by group and a little more speed.
    Sidebery doesn’t support colors but is really faster.
    These 2 extensions are the best vertical tabs since the old tabkit (which was also awesome bit not updated anymore on github)

  5. Anonymous said on October 30, 2020 at 2:43 am

    Could be useful on a widescreen monitor.

  6. Pedro said on October 30, 2020 at 12:12 am

    I wish Firefox implemented a native version of this. Tree Style Tab is great, but a native solution would be great.

    1. Barton said on October 30, 2020 at 1:41 pm

      @Pedro Eh, I’m quite the opposite. I’d rather they focus on the core features and engine improvements.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m also using vertical tabs with the help of Sidebery + css tweak. But this is a niche feature and there’s little to no incentive at all to build it natively into Firefox.

      Here’s how my FF looks. Really love this setup so far.

      1. Pedro said on November 2, 2020 at 4:42 pm


        This is my FF:
        I made TST look as close to native as possible. :)
        I really love the tab scrolling on it and the mouse shortcuts. I also have a bunch of css customizations. It would be nice if TST made some of those costumizations available without having to mess around on css files though.

      2. Spark said on October 30, 2020 at 11:32 pm

        Bruh can you share the config somewhere? It’s pretty beautiful

  7. piomiq said on October 29, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    Tree Style Tab extension in Firefox is available long time. It has even its own extensions.
    For Opera we have for example Tree Tabs.
    Good to Edge will have it as built in.

  8. BoboDupla said on October 29, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Since I tried vertical tabs on Vivaldi and via Tree Style Tab extension on Firefox, I can’t work without it anymore. It is just so much more cleaner and transparent to have even 20+ tabs open on the side than cramped in the top bar with no useful information whatsoever.

    The only thing that is missing from both solution (in Edge and Vivaldi) is nesting or the tree style, where child tabs are nested and collapsible so to save even more space when not needed. Hopefully it will be implemented in both browsers in the future.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on October 29, 2020 at 7:48 pm

      Microsoft giveth (vertical tabs) and Microsoft taketh (Manifest v3)…

  9. anona said on October 29, 2020 at 10:16 am

    If I’m not mistaken, Edge and Vivaldi are the only browsers supporting this now. Opera and Firefox (?) used to, but not anymore.

    1. BoboDupla said on October 29, 2020 at 10:52 am

      Firefox can be modified with Tree Style Tab to do the same (and more as the extension is more powerful than both Edge’s and Vivaldi’s implementation of the feature).

      1. White said on October 29, 2020 at 6:35 pm

        Tree Style Tab (of firefox) is more useful. Edge’s on the other hand just trying to attract people’s attention. Nothing else.

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