Using Finder Tabs in OS X

Make the best use of finder tabs

Finder tabs in OS X and macOS, are similar to tabs you see in most browsers, including Safari. Their purpose is to minimize screen clutter by gathering what used to be displayed in separate windows into a single Finder window with multiple tabs. Each tab acts as a separate Finder window.

Finder tabs are a nice addition to the Mac operating system. Here are a few tricks that will help you make the most of them.

Instructions in this article apply to Mac OS X Mavericks (10.9) and later.

Telescope and Finder Scope on Tripod Icon with Long Shadow
bubaone / Getty Images 

Tips and Tricks for Using Finder Tabs

Tabs work almost the same way in the Finder as they do in Safari. In fact, they're so similar that they share a lot of keyboard shortcuts.

Finder tabs also work independently of each other. Each can have its own view (icons, list, column, and overflow), and each can contain information from any location in your Mac's file system.

How to See Tabs in the Mac Finder

The Tab bar will appear automatically if you create a tab. You can also make it visible (or hide it later) by selecting Show Tab Bar under the Finder's View menu.

Alternatively, press Shift+Command+T on your keyboard.

Show Tab Bar in Finder

How to Open Finder Tabs

You can open a new tab in the Finder using several methods.

  • Press Command+T on your keyboard.
  • Hold Command while double-clicking a folder.
  • Right-click a folder within a Finder window and select Open in New Tab from the popup menu.
Open in New Tab command
  • Click the plus (+) button at the far right of the Finder's tab bar.
Plus sign in Finder Tab Bar
  • Select New Tab under the File menu.
New Tab command in Finder
  • Drag a folder to the Finder tab bar's plus (+) sign.
Dragging folder to plus sign to open it in new tab
  • Highlight a folder, and then click the Action (sprocket) button and select Open in New Tab.
Open in New Tab command in the Action menu

How to Close Finder Tabs

When you're done with a tab, you can close it in one of three ways:

  • In a Finder window that has multiple tabs, hover the mouse cursor over the tab you want to close. A close tab button (X) will appear. Click the button to close all tabs.
Close tab in Finder
  • Right-click the tab you want to close and select Close Tab from the context menu.
Close Tab command in the Finder
  • To close all but the currently selected tab, right-click or ctrl-click the Finder tab you want to keep open, and then select Close Other Tabs.

You can also click the X while holding the Option key.

Close Other Tabs command

How to Manage Finder Tabs

Beyond opening and closing tabs, you can also manage them in several ways. Among these are consolidating all windows into tabs, separating tabs into their own windows, and cycling through the ones you have open from your keyboard.

  • To consolidate all Finder windows into tabs in a single window with tabs, select Merge All Windows under the Windows menu.
Merge All Windows
  • To move a tab to a separate window, drag it outside of the tab bar.
Drag tab to new window
  • You can also move an active tab to a separate window by selecting Move Tab to New Window from the Window menu.
Move Tab to New Window command
  • To cycle through tabs in the current Finder window, select Show Previous Tab or Show Next Tab from the Finder's Window menu.

The keyboard shortcuts are Control+Tab for the next tab or Control+Shift+Tab for the previous one.