Bring Tabs to Office 2013

Microsoft has been busy over the past few months, rolling out a lot of new updates. Windows 8 debuted in October of 2012, Office 2013, along with its companion Office 365 Home Premium, in early 2013, and numerous updates to other services as well. While both flagship products introduced many changes, some failed to address one pressing request from users.

The new Explorer for Windows 8 introduced the ribbon interface which has become a staple of Office and the new Office added a Start screen, which makes for easy launching of previously opened documents as well as access to templates and simple searching for additional ones.

Both new apps failed to address a feature that has been apart of web browsers for some time now — tabs. You can add this simple, but useful, feature to both through third-party apps, but it was something that Microsoft simply should have built in themselves.

Several options exist for adding tabs to Explorer, with my favorite being QTTabBar, but I have found only one suitable solution for Office and, if you are using 2013, then it is not free, but reasonably priced.

Grab the App

If you are using Office 2010 or a prior version then you can introduce the suite to tabs free of charge. But, if you want them in 2013, or a fuller integration within other apps in Office, then you will need to pony up a bit of money.

Office Tabs comes in several flavors. There is the aforementioned free version which adds tabs to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and paid version that does the same for Office 2013 and previous versions and finally an Enterprise solution that adds the feature to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Project and Visio. Both come in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The basic retails for $25, while Enterprise is currently on sale for $35, though it is regularly priced at $121 — quite a deal, but no word how long the offer lasts. Both versions come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Install and Setup

The download is a mere 20 MB and setup is simple. Being a paid app (though you get a 30 day free trial with full features) the service has no need to bring along third-party software or toolbars, so no worries in that regard.

Once the app is up and running you will be faced with a number of options to customize the service. The Options page pops up upon a successful install and has only two tabs, but with a number of features included within each.

You will also note that each of the three Office apps can be customized separately. Excel, Word and PowerPoint appear as tabs down the left side of the Options screen.

General and Position Tab Options

  • Enable Tabs (On by default)
  • Double-click left button on the tab to close tab (On by default)
  • Click middle mouse button to close tab (On by default)
  • Double-click tab bar to create a new document (On by default)
  • Drag and drop the tab (On by default)
  • Using bold font to indicatecurrent tab (On by default)
  • Warning me when close all tabs (On by default)
  • Hide tab barwhen there is one tab
  • Multi-window mode
  • Show “Office tab” tab on ribbon (On by default)
  • Show image on the tab (On by default)

Below these options is a smaller section labeled “Shortcut”. As the name implies, this allows for a few keyboard shortcuts and you can change them depending on your tastes. By default the shortcut to select a tab is Ctrl + Tab and to hide or display the tab bar you can click Ctrl + Q.

There is a section for “Position” which allows you to select where your tabs will appear. This is automatically set to “Above workspace”, but if you prefer to move it then you can place them below or to the left or right.

Finally, once you have your settings to your liking, there is a “Backup” button which allows for an export to your location of choice. Alternately, you can also import if you are setting the app up on a new system.

Style and Color Tab Options

Style and Color allows for the tweaking of the looks of your tabs. There is a tab style drop-down menu that lists options in the unimaginary one through six format. By default, it is set to “Tab Style-6”. It does however display an image below of what each version looks like when you select it. It really only makes minor changes to the shapes of the tabs, so do not expect a lot of creativity here.

There are also options to change tab size, font and even color, though the latter offers only a few pre-set options and no ability to customize to your own choice of shade.

Using Office Tabs

Once you have set every option to your liking then you can fire up an Office app to get a real look at how everything has turned out. You will find a very simple browser-like look with small button to the right of the final tab that allows you to easily open a new tab, as you can in Chrome and Firefox.


Office Tabs is not free, but $25 is a small price to pay for the app and if you are using an older version of Office like 2010 or 2007 then you can get it for free — 2003 as well, but that will become unsupported in the near future so I recommend you move on. If you need tabs in more than just Word, Excel and PowerPoint then it will cost you a bit more.

The app brings a much needed functionality that Microsoft should have added themselves, but for those of us who frequently have more than one document open at a time then in it is a bit of a necessity.


Add tabs to Office apps