If you’re the kind of person who finds themselves switching between multiple Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents, you’ll probably find the fact Office insists on opening every single document in its own window quite tiresome. Windows 7’s new Taskbar is a definite improvement on previous versions, but it’s still a fiddly process having to roll the mouse over a program icon, wait for the preview windows to appear and then locate the right one before clicking it.
It’s a problem that plagues most office applications – only Lotus Symphony has found a workable solution, opening all documents in their own tabs within a single program window.
Thankfully there’s a free add-on that can do something similar in Office, and this is it. Office Tabs, as the name suggests, basically adds a tab bar below the menu bar (Office 2003) or ribbon (Office 2007-2010, but not 2013) – once installed, all documents are opened within the same window, accessible through tabs, making it much easier to switch between them.
On its own this feature is enough to recommend Office Tabs, but it doesn’t stop there. The tabs themselves are customisable to the nth degree: choose where to place them (top, bottom, left or right), change their shape and appearance, enable drag-and-drop reordering, add keyboard shortcuts… You name it, it’s here.
There are some other useful features too, such as being able to create a new document simply by double-clicking the empty portion of the tab bar. Right-click a tab and you’ll see lots more potentially useful options too, but be warned: many of them are marked with an asterisk, and that’s because their functionality isn’t available in this Free Edition.
If you’d like to be able to rename a file simply by right-clicking its tab, or add the option to save and close all open documents with a single click, you’ll need to upgrade to the Professional edition for the princely sum of $25. You’ll also find there’s an Enterprise Edition available too for $10 more – this extends Office Tab’s functionality to Microsoft Project and Visio too. Both paid-for versions also work with Office 2013.