IE7 - Tabbed Browsing

IE7 - Tabbed Browsing

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Tabbed browsing is a new feature in Internet Explorer 7.  One question we are frequently asked by administrators is - "How do I control the tab behavior for my users to present a consistent experience?"  We are also asked the same thing by developers who want to leverage this functionality for their applications.  However, it is important to note that IE7 Tab Control is driven by the user (or their administrator) and not the application developer!

To open a new "blank" tab, the user can either use the Ctrl+T keyboard shortcut, or click on the blank tab in the IE browser as shown below.

Other keyboard & mouse shortcuts for tab control are as follows:

Keyboard shortcuts

Open links in a new tab in the background CTRL+click
Open links in a new tab in the foreground CTRL+SHIFT+click
Open a new tab in the foreground CTRL+T
Open a new tab from the Address bar ALT+ENTER
Open a new tab from the search box ALT+ENTER
Open Quick Tabs (thumbnail view) CTRL+Q
Switch between tabs CTRL+TAB/CTRL+SHIFT+TAB
Switch to a specific tab number CTRL+n (n can be 1-8)
Switch to the last tab CTRL+9
Close current tab CTRL+W
Close all tabs ALT+F4
Close other tabs CTRL+ALT+F4

Mouse shortcuts

Open a link in a background tab Click the middle mouse button on a link
Open a new tab Double-click the empty space to the right of the last tab
Close a tab Click the middle mouse button on the tab

OK - so now that you know how to navigate using the tabs, how can you manually control the IE7 tabbed browsing settings?  If you launch the Internet Options applet from within Control Panel, or from the Tools --> Options menu within IE itself, you will see a new area on the General tab called Tabs.

Clicking on the Settings button brings up the following options dialog to govern the tabbed browsing options that can be manipulated by the user to suit their needs:

So now that we know how to manually set these options, how are they managed from an Enterprise level?  Here's a breakdown of the options, and the registry location / GPO area to set these.  The Registry Locations can be set in either of the following Registry Locations:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TabbedBrowsing
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TabbedBrowsing

The Group Policies that are available can be set in the following locations:

  • Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Internet Explorer
  • User Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Internet Explorer

Setting Description Registry Value GPO Value
Enable Tabbed Browsing Enable Tabbed Browsing Enabled (DWORD)
0 = Off
1 = On
Turn off Tabbed Browsing
Warn Me when closing Multiple Tabs Warn the user when closing IE that all the tabs will be closed as well WarnOnClose (DWORD)
0 = Do Not Warn
1 = Warn
Always Switch to new tabs when they are created Define whether a new tab becomes active on creation OpenInForeground (DWORD)
0 = Disabled
1 = Enabled
Enable Quick Tabs Define whether the Quick Tab feature is available QuickTabsThreshold (DWORD)
0 = Disabled
2 = Enabled
Turn off Quick Tabs Functionality
Open only the first home page when IE starts If you have multiple home pages defined that each open on a new tab, only the first one will open if this is set OpenAllHomePages (DWORD)
0 = Only the first page opens
1 = All pages open
Open new tabs next to the current tab Define where the new tabs are created in relation to the active tab OpenAdjacent (DWORD)
0 = Disabled
1 = Enabled
Open home page for new tabs instead of a blank page Enables the administrator to set a default page for the new tab UseHomePageForNewTab (DWORD)
0 = blank page
1 = homepage
When a popup is encountered Define how IE should handle popups PopupsUseNewWindow (DWORD)
0 = Let IE decide
1 = Open a new Window
2 = Open a new tab
Turn off configuration of tabbed browsing pop-up behavior
Open links from other programs in: Define how IE should handle URL launches from applications ShortcutBehavior (DWORD)
0 = A new window
1 = A new tab in the current window
2 = The current tab / window
Turn off configuration of window reuse

Finally, there is one other registry value to keep in mind.  Many administrators want to set the "Don't show this page again" on the Welcome to Tabbed Browsing Page so that users are not presented with this screen:

The value to set is as follows:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\TabbedBrowsing\ (if you want to make the change system-wide.  If not, set the value in HKEY_CURRENT_USER)
Value Name: ShowTabsWelcome
Value Type: DWORD
Set the value to 0 so that the users are not presented with this page. Set the value to 1 so that users are presented with this page. If the browser is configured to open the homepage, then that page will be displayed when a new tab is opened by the user.

And that wraps up this post about IE7 Tabbed Browsing.  Administrators - please remember that when configuring IE Tabbed Browsing for your users that you need to ensure that your configuration provides the best browsing experience for the users to enable them to use IE7 in the most efficient manner!

Additional Resources:

 - CC Hameed

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  • I too love the Scroll Wheel Click Tip (as opposed to <Ctrl+Click> to open a new tab)

    But Microsoft introduced a new mouse driver that has a really cool new feature -- NOW the scroll-click is a Alt-Tab replacement!

    You can watch the demo here:

    Oh yeah, my point?

    The scroll-click will no longer open a new tab. . . .

  • Blake -

    Thank you for your feedback.  Something to note is that although the default setting for the middle-click within the Intellipoint software is to open the Instant Viewer, you can still retain the middle-click behavior for Internet Explorer to open a new tab when clicking on a link:

    1. open the Microsoft Mouse software and check the box labeled "Enable program-specific settings" on the first tab - this enables the settings button

    2. click on settings, click on add and select iexplore.exe

    3. Change the "Wheel button" setting to Middle-click instead of Instant Viewer

    4. Hit OK and then OK again

    Now when you use IE you can use the Middle-click option on a link to launch a new tab.  However, this will negate the ability to use the Instant Viewer with the middle-click as program-specific settings will override the general settings.

    Also - not everyone will be using the Intellipoint software so the IE7 default shortcuts are still valid for a large number of users.

    Many thanks - and keep the feedback coming!

  • No sure how I found this blog but its damm good. Check out these that I have been reading today! IE7

  • Hi man,

    Is there any tweak/regedit modification that enables IE7 to automatically close tabbed browsing when there is only one webpage open? (similar to Firefox).

    I've still found IE convenient, in general

    Thank you.


  • Tuan -

    I'm not 100% sure I understand what you're asking, but I'm guessing you're talking about the warning when closing multiple tabs?  If so, you can set this in the Tabbed Browsing options - uncheck the "Warn Me when closing Multiple Tabs".  You can also modify this via the registry or GPO as indicated in the main body of the post.

  • My context menu does not show any TAB features. IE7 definitely running. Problem started when I had problem with WinXP boot, repaired installation, re-updated all software. IE reverted back to 6, update then installed 7, but context menu not updated. Any settings I can tweak

  • Mark -

    Make sure that tabbed browsing is enabled (see the screenshot in the post for the location of this setting) - you may also want to remove IE7 completely.  Based on your description you may have a corrupted installation.

  • Enable tabbed browsing is selected in the IE options, still the Tab related menu options are disabled when I open IE7.

  • Hello,

    I'm having a rather small problem with IE7. In the Internet Options I have it set to where IE doesn't automatically switch over to new tabs when they are created, but IE for some reason doesn't acknowledge this because it still switches to newly-created tabs. Is there any way to fix this without un-installing and re-installing IE7?

  • Alegra -

    What keyboard / mouse shortcut are you using to open the new tabs?

  • I have tabbed browsing enabled in Internet Options but still can't see the tabs. Please help.

  • This is driving me nuts.  Both on my home and work computers (both are XP Pro SP2 and IE7) when I have a browser window open already and go to open a new browser window it opens momentarily, then disappears behind all my other windows.  In other words, it opens in the background.  

    I have to click it twice from the tab at the bottom of the screen to bring it to the foreground, or minimize all my other windows.  Sometimes I start typing thinking that the page has opened, only to look up and realize I'm typing in another browser session.




  • I have been having the very annoying problem when i open a new tab - either Ctrl click on a link or click on a new tab, the whole IE7 closes with no warning or error messages at all.  It just goes away.  This doesn't happen consitently, just regularly enough (about every 10 or so times i open a new tab) so that it is a problem.  I did see on another site some others with similar problems but no suggested answers.  Any help appreciated as it is quite a pain.



  • How do I define that Tab will be the default openning when ever I click on link. I don't won't the link to be open in the same window but in a new tab as a default.

  • How do i turn on my tab in IE6? I had them and i closed them and i cant figure out how to turn them back on.