Quick Tabs

Hi, this is Uche again, I am back to talk about Quick Tabs, a visual way of managing tabs in Internet Explorer that complements the tabbed browsing experience quite nicely. This feature came about when we realized there were two main issues users were likely to encounter when browsing using tabs. First, as you open more tabs there is less space to show titles, making it difficult to identify a specific tab. Second, because many web pages have very similar titles picking the correct tab by title alone may be very difficult. We developed Quick Tabs as a way to visually manage your tabs. Quick Tabs provides a thumbnail view of each tab that allows you to view, find and manage all opened web pages easily and effectively.

User Scenarios for Quick Tabs:

When you start Internet Explorer 7, you will notice when you have two or more tabs opened; there is a new button that appears on the left hand side of the tab band next to the Favorites center icon. This is the Quick Tabs feature. It consists of two parts: an icon that takes you to the view containing thumbnails of all open pages and a drop down menu which lists the titles of all the open pages. Here’s what the Quick Tabs button looks like:

Quick Tabs Button

(Note: certain aspects of this feature can be controlled via group policy. The final design for this button might differ slightly from what is pictured here.)

As you open more pages and need to quickly identify or select a specific page, you can click on the Quick Tabs icon or press Ctrl+Q to take you to the view.

When you’re in the Quick Tabs view, you will see a thumbnail view for each opened webpage. Each thumbnail displays the web page title; its tool tip provides the URL of the webpage. If a page hasn’t finished loading yet, it’ll show a loading animation. As you open even more webpages, the thumbnail view of each page will resize so that you won’t have to scroll. You will notice that anytime you click outside of the view, it will disappear and return you to the previous page you were looking at. Here is what the Quick Tabs view looks like:

Quick Tabs View

When you have identified the page you want, simply click on the thumbnail and you will be taken to the corresponding tab. If you need to refresh your opened pages, you can right click on any thumbnail and refresh a specific page or refresh all your pages.

Right Clicking on a Quick Tab

If you’re done using a certain page and want to get rid of it, there are a number of options provided through Quick Tabs. You can use the "x" in the top right hand corner of the thumbnail, right click on it and choose close or just middle click on the thumbnail. One of the great things about Quick Tabs is when you close a thumbnail, the thumbnail view layout reflows, letting you close multiple pages with minimum mouse movement.

Quick Tabs was designed to enhance the tabbed browsing experience by providing an easy way to manage a large set of tabs. We hope you enjoy using it and as always we welcome your feedback.

 - Uche

Comments (64)
  1. Nick Presta says:

    Tab customization is always important, especially if IE7 wants to compete with browsers who have extensive tab options.

  2. Gorka says:

    The thumbanils are probably une of teh mos interesting improvements in IE7, but tehy are extremly slow on my machine (a 1.6 ghz centrino). It seems that the browser renders each page at runtime when you open the thumbanil view. Have you thinked about creating a memory cache to spped up the rendering time?

  3. daniel says:

    not feeling the thumbnails. but without the ability to open a link in a new tab and force all new windows into new tabs, tabs aren’t super useful.

  4. Dominic Self says:

    Pedantry – but why does the Quick Tabs feature use the ‘old’ vertical scrollbar style? In fact talking of scrollbars… why don’t IE scrollbars *still* not have the animation on hover that generic Windows ones do?

  5. Fogger says:

    In the Beta 2 Preview the Quick Tabs feature is somewhat disappointing. The Idea is sound, but Quick Tabs is slow and sluggish right now. The previews take a long time to update themselves and display the spinning circle all too often. There is also a noticable delay for the "on hover" selection box to appear. The whole experience just does not live up to the feature’s name. Quick Tabs is something that I have been looking forward to and I’d hate to see it go unused because of its slowness.

    Cheers, Fogger

  6. Ron says:

    Apart from the new printing interface, quicktabs is another one of my favourite features in IE7, however I do agree that it seems a bit slow when rolling over tabs.

  7. MrDale says:

    Quick tabs works quick for me. I don’t know what’s causing this feature to run sluggish for others but when i click the icon, the page comes up with the thumbnails already. I don’t have to wait for the thumbs to appear.

    Cute feature all in all. I probably will rarely use it, but it’s nice that the option is there.

  8. mocax says:

    Quick tabs require and exhorbitant amount of memory. But once you get thqat 1GB of RAM, it’s really a breeze.

  9. Xepol says:

    First off, to Daniel, check your internet options under TABS.  You’ll find what you need there.

    Secondly to the IE team.  PLEASE, don’t make this feature play "hide and seek".  Make it available ALL the time.  yes, I know that it isn’t exactly useful for a single tab, but it is even less useful to have a feature that comes and goes (and a nightmare for those of us who frequently end up describing stuff over the phone.  Bad enough when people turn stuff off, wose when it randomly comes and goes).

    Quick tabs always please, even if its only for 1 tab.

    Secondly, quicktabs are a great idea, but if you combine that concept with the way the print engine works, it would be pretty cool to be able view really large webpages as a series of disjointed pages layed out like that.  Then I could pick the section that represents the region of the page I need to get to quickly.  Boom, back to the unified view and exactly where I need to be.  Much like Word’s ability to view a document as a flowing body or a page at a time.

    This would help give us a higher level view of large documents that we’ve never even considered before.

    Any chances of seeing that?

  10. Ian says:

    Quick Tabs are neat, although they do seem to take a little while to load up on my machine (Athlon 2800, 512MB RAM).

    I’d really love to be able to reorder my tabs by dragging them, as you can in Firefox 1.5. It would be great to be able to reorder them within Quick Tab view too, by dragging them around. Since you’re able to close them from that view, I don’t see why it wouldnt be possible to reorder them too 🙂

    One final thing – I’d like to be able to middle click the Home Page button to make it open in a new tab.

  11. Peter says:

    Great feature!

    However, the quality of the thumbnails it not very high. Do you use GdipGetImageThumbnail to create the thumbnail? This routine should create a thumbnail of higher quality (sharper, more details) and is extremely fast, too.



  12. kL says:

    Ctrl+Q? Q like Quit? That shortcut closes many windows applications!

    I really like my Mac OS X for not messing with keyboard. On OS X Cmd+Q is Quit. Always and everywhere.

  13. Tiago Magalhães says:

    kL: Just so you now, this isn’t OS X.

    You don’t see me going to some OS X app’s blog and bitch because they use Alt+F4 as a shortcut do you.

  14. teambanana says:

    I’m using the beta 2 preview on a 2GHZ P4D laptop with 256MB Ram and the performance is fine.

    Just thought you’d like to know. 🙂

  15. Slugsie says:

    I’m loving the current IE7 beta, and I think the new end user features are subperb. I’ve got a couple of ideas however to make the TABs experience even better…

    1. Make tabs re-orderable. I should be able to drag a tab to change it’s order on the tab bar.

    2. Have a configuration option to force links in an external program (like my email client) to open as a new tab in a current window (if available) rather than a new tab in a new window.

    3. (and this would be the absolute killer for me) Make it so that I can move tabs between IE windows. So say for instance I have two IE windows open, I can drag a tab off one IE window, and place it in the other one. Or I could drag a tab off one IE window and have it open in a new IE window (maybe by the use of a modifier key like CTRL).

  16. Arjan says:

    On quicktabs if you select a thumbview and you use functions like zoom (<CTRL><+>) you won’t see the page zooming. But if you click on that page it has zoomed.

  17. Monique says:


    Love IE7. Much more productive oriented than 6.

    I like having more of the workspace.  

    Where are the cascading and tiled windowed(tabs) to work on multiple things at once? And allowing it in full screen mode would be great.

    I’ve noticed my 56k page loading speed up.

    Since I’m here:

    1) Context menu to open a link in a background tab doesn’t function, I get page not found.  I direct click-thru and the link loads.

    2) Drag and drop on the feeds and favorites isn’t functioning.

  18. Monique says:

    Forgot: It’s the drag and drop of folders…

  19. Monique says:

    RRRG: Tried it again, first try it didn’t work third try did. Now it kicked in.  For beta version I couldn’t quickyl find the feedback to report this so I’m posting here.

  20. NT says:

    I didn’t find the option to set a homepage for new tabs when they are spawned.  Without that setting, a one-step process is a two-step process–you have to open a new tab, then go to your home page, and finally search.  That feature should definitely be added or put where we can find it if it already is there…

  21. Xtex says:

    I too would like the possibility of reordering tabs, and moving them between windows + opening a new window if so desired. (both quick tabs & regular tabs)

    Also, the (regular) tabs interfere somewhat with toolbars… can’t put say the links on the same line :-/

    Would be nice if we could move the tabs wherever we want though (like on the bottom or side instead – I have a widescreen, so listing the tabs (with the same orientation) only on the side would allow for viewing more tabs without *too* much affect on the pages

    Lastly, could we have a feature to search & sort the tabs?  When you open 30 tabs in 5 windows each, it gets a bit hard to find stuff 😛

    Oh and depending it’d be nice if the one search could apply to all windows 🙂

    the quicktabs load quickly enough for me… though the main pages don’t <_<

    Firefox & ie6 are a lot faster at loading larger files (such as any page on http://www.giveupalready.com/, and lots of other sites like this)

    Its kind of annoying when it takes several times as long on ie7 to load the same page as opposed to firefox and what it used to in ie7 🙁

    Hope it gets fixed by the final release <_<

  22. Xtex says:

    er used to in ie6* lol

  23. Steven Malaw says:

    IE7 is a great improvement – i’ve let go maxthon.

    As for tabbing 1) the quick tab feature i like alot 2) i miss the groups option of maxthon, you know many pages of local stores open at one click – could be a function of QT. i had groups like banking (401k, credit union, all the cards & a credit report page) local stores for shoping and a group for tools, net shopping for the wifes trinkets and my computer parts. Damn you guys really need to get me this group thing back for me and i think the rest of us will give a WOW who haven’t experenced such a thing before.

  24. I heard a great suggestion:  Since you can have multiple tabs set to open at startup, why not have QuickTabs open at startup with all your Startup tabs already open.  That could be a brilliant way to start your day.

  25. Malebolgia says:

    I think Quick tabs is a very useful add on to IE7, I like it very much.

    I can suggest to speed it up a little (with a memory cache instead of reopening websites) and to keep it open to third parties extensions.

  26. Rafa says:

    Quick Tabs is awesome, but there’s just one drawback, it’s really slow when you are with more than 3 or 4 pages open. You need to work better the perfomance of quick tabs!

  27. Kent says:

    Couldn’t agree more with the "let us re-order" tabs comments. My number 1 request as well. Dragging an orphan tab/window back into a parent window would be nice too, for the occasions where you have a random IE window opened seperately. Performance of quick tabs has been perfect on the machines I’m using, however they are all newer non-Celeron Intel boxes.

  28. vipin sagar says:

    Thanks to firefox

    Keep up the good work..!!

    Live free or die…!


  29. James Wilhelm says:

    I cannot make sense out of your quick tabs or your tab settings under Options.This is what I expected to see. The first page opened shows one tab to the left corner. The 2nd page opens next to it and so forth, so that your tabs are lined up across the screen, I can then at a glance go from page to page. Both OPERA and FIREFOX are set up this way. Why should I have to click on a quick tab manually? If they all opened next to each other automatically, there would be no reason for guick tabs.A red X on each tab also helps. A good start, but lots of work ahead. Goog luck.

  30. John Larkins says:

    Quick Tabs is very nice.  When I have more than 3 pages open and I close the browser the tabs don’t close and I get an exception error.  The box jumps up to say Bla, Bla page will not respond. Then we go through the whole error report thing. I am sure I want a response and I know I get a reaction.  Anyway do you know why?

  31. idleawei says:

    Can I open all new pages in tabs ? How to set?


  32. Fogger says:

    @James Wilhelm

    What are you talking about? The tabs are "lined up across the screen", they’re right below the adress bar. And new tabs open next to old tabs, so what is your point? Quick tabs is for when you have many tabs open, the feature lets you select a page based on what it looks like and not what it’s called.

  33. IEBlog says:

    We didn’t introduce tabs in the Beta 2 Preview, but we did improve our experience a lot! We heard a ton…

  34. n00b says:

    Please add CTRL-F4 to close the current tab, this is the convention for so many MDI apps.

    It’s been the single biggest hindrance for me whenever I start using this browser heavily, although I must say it’s really starting to steal a decent portion of my time spent browing. 😀

  35. What are your settings under Options–Tabs.?

    My first tab opens on left side. The following Tabs all open on top of the original tab, wiping it out. I have tried all the settings with no luck, except manually clicking on the right end of the tab to open a new one.

  36. Martin says:

    At last, tabs in IE 🙂

    Would like to be able to move tabs around

    i.e the last one opened comes on the right

    side, but i’d like to place tabs that ‘belong

    togeter’ next to each other.

     Reordering, dragging them around etc.

     as people mentioned above, pleeease !

  37. GapManCA says:

    One thjing that I have noticed with Quick tabs is that the only way to get a hyperlink to open in a new tab is to right click and select open in a new tab.  I think that it would make sense to allow the user to configure IE to either open links in tab or in a new window just like the option to open pop-up in a tab.  The thing that I like about tabs is that is minimizes the number of windows that I have open.

  38. Kevin Maidment says:

    I like the Quick Tabs, but when I select a tab to view, it is not active so the mouse scroll wheel doesn’t work unless I click it. Could "Quick Tabs" be put on a right click pop-up menu?


  39. I agree that we should have the option for third party links to open as a new tab in the current browser.  It pretty much renders tabs lame when I click on a link in Outlook, or on my Favourites Toolbar, and it opens up a whole new instance of IE when I am already surfing in another instance…  This is the feature that would make IE7 my browser of choice.

  40. The fourth part of the ongoing series describes such additions to tabbed panes as hover preview popup and tab overview dialog.

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