Clover Adds Browser Style Tabs To Windows Explorer

Explorer may not be the most advanced file management tool that’s available, but it does get the job done. If you’ve been a Windows user for any length of time, you’ve probably grown used to hitting the Windows key and E to fire up Explorer.

This is the reason that it can be difficult to move to an Explorer replacement – your memory muscle will almost invariably default to using the known shortcut and you may well find that you end up defaulting back to Explorer. Clover is an Explorer add-on that enables you to stick with Windows’ built in file browser while gaining some extra features.

I’m quite a fan of adding new features to Explorer rather than replacing it completely, and I’ve previously enjoyed using TabExplorer. Clover is very much in the same vein, but it is a more focused app and one that includes some feature that were missing from TabExplorer – notably support for keyboard shortcuts.

Install Clover

The Clover web site is in Chinese, but the program itself is in English. Pay a visit to the app web site and click the blue button to download the software – you can click the English link in the top navigation bar to read a little about how the program works.

Clover has an English interface despite the Chinese web site.

Clover has an English interface despite the Chinese web site.

Use your preferred compression tool to extract the contents of the file you have downloaded and then run through the installation. Once this is complete, the program will launch automatically and Clover will display the drives that you have attached to your computer.

You’ll see straight away that there is a tab at the top of the Explorer window. As in your web browser, Google Chrome in particular – and this is the browser that Clover is somewhat based on – you’ll see that there is a smaller tab to the right of the main one. If you click this you can open a new tab that can then be used to navigate to a different folder.

The Clover interface is heavily influence by Google Chrome, and this is no bad thing.

The Clover interface is heavily influence by Google Chrome, and this is no bad thing.

Working With Tabs

If you’ve spent any time working with tabs in a web browser, you largely know how to use Clover. To open a new tab you can click the right hand mini-tab, or you can use the Ctrl+T keyboard shortcut. You can also interact with the program by right clicking on an open tab and the menu that appears can be used to open tabs, close the current tab, close all but the current tab and to close all tabs to the right of the current tab.

The right click menu is another way to take control of your tabs in Clover.

The right click menu is another way to take control of your tabs in Clover.

Opening and closing tabs has all of the basic covered, but Clover also mimics other features found in tabbed web browsers. If you’d like to change the order in which open tabs are displayed, you can just drag and drop them into your preferred order. Should you decide that you’d like to view a particular folder in a separate window rather than with the other tabs, you can drag that tab out of the main Explorer window and it will be transformed into its own window.

Rip a tab from Clover to create a new window that’s entirely separate from other tabs.

Rip a tab from Clover to create a new window that’s entirely separate from other tabs.

It is also possible to create duplicates of tabs which is helpful on occasion. Another very browser-lie feature is the ability to pin frequently used tab to the left hand side of the tab bar. Just like in Chrome, when you select this option, the tab will be shrunk down to just its icon and is a great way to ensure that your most used folders are always available without taking up too much space.

Bookmarking And More

Continuing the comparisons with Chrome, Clover also features a bookmarks toolbar which you can used to house shortcuts to common folders. You can drag and drop folder icons onto the bar to create a shortcut, and you can even do the same with files and URLs – just drag from the address bar of your web browser into Clover.

If you’d rather the bookmarks bar was not displayed – you may find that this is something you can live without – just click the wrench icon to the upper left of the program window and untick the ‘Show bookmark bar’ option in the Bookmarks menu. This same menu can be used to access bookmarks regardless of whether you have the bar on display or not.

Clover’s bookmarks are useful and can be accessed in a couple of ways.

Clover’s bookmarks are useful and can be accessed in a couple of ways.

If you find that you create a large number of bookmarks, you might want to take steps to keep them in order. Right click the bookmarks bar and select the ‘Add page’ or ‘Add folder’ option. You can use the edit dialog that appears to create folders and shortcuts that can be easily navigated.

Summing Up

The one thing you will need to get used to is that fact that when you close Clover, all of your open tabs will disappear. This is just something you will become accustomed to over time, but you’ll probably find that you accidentally close the folders you are working with in the beginning.

It’s great to find that the regular Windows key + E keyboard shortcuts can be used to fire up Clover. Despite the fact that a taskbar shortcut is create for the program, it does not matter whether you launch Clover explicitly or launch Explorer, as long as you have Clover installed, this is what will launch.

Let us know what you think of the app in the comments below.


  • Liam Hammett

    Clover is a brilliant App, I recently started using it myself (a few weeks ago).

    I find the tabs extremely useful as I usually have a lot of apps open, although don’t use the bookmark functionality often (I find the regular sidebar and favourites works well enough). One of the things I’m still not used to is looking for a folder icon and it being a clover instead, but I dare say I’ll get that in time.

    • Mark Wilson

      Yes – I found the taskbar icon a little confusing to start with but you do get used to it eventually!

  • http://www.ein-herjar.com Jimmy

    May give it a try. But is it safe for user’s privacy? cause i have some hard experience with Chinese software (no offense really)

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  • edzams

    Clover is an awesome app. I have been using for about four months now and am loving it. hope it keeps getting improved (and I mean improved not losing some it’s crucial appeal and functionality).
    Keep up the good work guys!!! :-)

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