A Beginner’s Guide to Windows and Tabs

If you are new to using Macs, then you may not know how useful tabs can be as an alternative to using multiple windows. You can use tabs in Safari, the Finder, and even inside of apps for document windows. It is easy to combine all windows into a single window with tabs, and also move tabs around and switch between them.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: A Beginner’s Guide to Windows and Tabs.

If you're new to Mac you may not be completely familiar with using Windows and Tabs and when to use one and the other. It's really kind of a personal preference. Some people may want to just use multiple windows. For instance here in the Finder we have a window open here to show a bunch of files and folders. I can go File and say New Finder Window, Command N, and get a second window and that's pointed at another location. This is iCloud Drive and this one here is Documents folder on the local drive. So I've got these two windows open. It's useful in the Finder when you want to drag and drop items between them or just want to be able to see the files in one and the files in the other.

But you can also do this with multiple Tabs. So we'll close this window here and instead of creating a new window we'll go and create a new tab. Command T instead of Command N. Now you have two tabs at the top. One has iCloud Drive and the other has another location. They each act as an independent window. So I could, for instance, in here dig down into a folder. It doesn't effect this one. I can dig down into a folder here as well. I can manipulate them both just as I would manipulate any independent window.

So I've got these two here and switching between the two of them is really easy. Just clicking on each one. I can click and drag to reorder them. I can click the X there to close one of those tabs. Another way to create a new tab is to hit the plus button there and that will create a third tab as well.

Now you may be familiar with tabs from using them in browsers and that's where they kind of got their start. Now they work in just about any app. So let's say I'm working in Pages and I have one document here and another document here. In order to combine them both into one window in Tabs I go to Window, Merge All Windows. This puts them in one Window here and I can see the tabs at the top. I now have the plus button there and can add another document as well. Now I have three documents and I can reorder them just like I could in the Finder, just like I can in Safari.

So you can use Tabs just about anywhere. There are lots of different ways to get in and out of tabs. So, for instance, if I wanted this document to be a separate window I can drag it away and it creates a separate window. In order to bring it back and combine it here I can either use Merge All Windows again or I can drag the tab at the top, which we don't see here. In order to bring it in you go to View, Show Tab Bar and will show the Tab Bar despite the fact there's only one tab. Now I can drag this Tab Bar here and add it back to this window. So you can drag and drop to manipulate tabs. You can do the same thing in the Finder.

This also works in full screen mode. So I'll click the green button here to go to Full Screen Mode and now you can see I've got those tabs full screen as well. I can use the keyboard shortcuts like Window, Show Previous Tab, Show Next Tab. So Control, Shift, and Tab to move between all the tabs. It makes it really easy to work with more than one document even if you're in full screen mode.

So you may want to consider trying to use Tabs inside of apps in the Finder instead of having multiple windows all over the place. When you end up in a situation like this where you just have so many windows. You can always just go to Windows, Merge All Windows, bring everything together into one window with tabs. It's nice and neat and you can try it out. I find that it's a lot better to use Tabs instead of multiple Windows whenever possible.

Comments: One Response to “A Beginner’s Guide to Windows and Tabs”

    Brad Smith
    1 year ago

    I am reminded of how ‘stuck in my old OS’ ways, I am. Using Tabs in the Finder will be a great solution. My Safari habits of many, many tabs, can now overflow. Thanks Gary!!

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