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How to Use Tabbed Windows in macOS​ Apps

Many apps in macOS have a tabbed window feature that allow them to open multiple windows in tabs (think of how you use tabbed windows in Safari). Tabs are available in such Apple apps as Mail, Maps, TextEdit, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. And the feature works with some third-party document-based apps and the Finder.

However, not all apps support the tabbed windows feature even though all have a tab bar. To see if an app has a use for tabs, open it, click on View, and select “Show Tab Bar.”

Screen shot of Mac Pages View menu with "Show Tab Bar" selected.

If an app makes use of a tab, you’ll see a plus (+) next to the tab bar, indicating you can create a new tab. If not, you will see a double-bar with no way to access it.

To take advantage of macOS’s tabbed windows, open a couple of documents in the same app.

Look at the tab bar in your open app. Go to Window > Merge All Windows to group the open windows together as tabs. Once these docs are grouped in a single tabbed window, you can click the plus button to the right of the last tab to create new blank documents. 

Screen shot of Mac Pages Window menu with "Merge All Windows" selected

You can also use the Command (⌘) + T keyboard shortcut to open a new tab. Or you can use the menu bar by clicking File, then New Tab.

To close an app’s tab, click on the tab you want to close and press Command (⌘) + W. Or, click on the tab you want to close in the menu bar, click on File from the menu bar at the top of the screen, and click “Close Tab.”

Tabbed document groups work just the same as tabs in Safari, so you can switch documents with a click, and drag to rearrange them. If/when you’re ready to return to windowed mode, you can move a tab into a new window by:

  • Clicking on the tab you want to open in a separate window.
  • Click Window in the menu bar.
Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Contributing Author
Dennis has over 40 years of journalism experience and has written hundreds of articles. For the past 20-plus years, he's been an online journalist, covering mainly Apple Inc. He's written for MacCentral, MacWorld, MacMinute, Macsimum News, Apple Daily Report, and is now contributing editor at Apple World Today.
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