Managing tabbed Finder browsing in OS X Mavericks

There are a number of ways to navigate, move files between, and otherwise manage the new Finder tabs in the latest version of OS X.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
3 min read

One of the new features that Apple introduced in OS X Mavericks is support for tabs in the Finder, where similar to Web browsers, you can have different views of the file system be in the same window, instead of having to keep a number of separate windows open at once.

Creating a new tab in Mavericks simply involves pressing Command-T or choosing the option for a new Tab from the File menu, from where you can navigate to a folder of interest.

Using tabs, you can copy or move files from one folder to another simply by dragging files and folders to the tab that represents the destination folder, instead of having to juggle two separate windows and drag files between them. Now you can go to the destination folder, create a new tab, and then go to the files of interest. From here, you can drag them to the tab of the destination folder to copy, move, or make aliases of them (holding the appropriate combination of Shift, Control, and Option keys) in this new location.

While this is one basic use of the new tabs feature, if you end up using it you might wish to better manage the tabs and windows you create. To do this, there are several options available.

  1. Navigating between tabs
    While you can navigate between tabs by clicking them, you can also do so by pressing the Control key and tapping the right arrow, or pressing Shift-Control to navigate in reverse.
  2. Merge all windows into tabs
    If you have multiple windows open, you can consolidate them into a single window with tabs by going to the Window menu in the Finder and choosing the option to "Merge All Windows."
  3. Tab contextual menu in OS X
    The tab contextual menu has some additional tab management options. Screenshot by Topher Kessler/CNET
  4. Arrange tabs
    Once created, you can shuffle the tabs around on the current window by clicking and dragging them. This will allow you some degree of organization.
  5. Move tabs between windows
    In addition to moving tabs around in the same window, you can drag a tab from one window and drop it on another one, and the tab will be moved to the destination window.
  6. Create a new window from a tab
    The final tab-related option is to create a new window from a single tab, which can be done three ways. The first is to click and drag the tab off of a specific Finder window, the next is to use the "Move Tab to New Window" option in the Finder's Window menu, and the last is to right-click the tab and choose this option from the contextual menu.

You may notice that Apple has placed the "Move Tab to New Window" and "Merge All Windows" features in the Window menu of the Finder, which means that if you use these features regularly, then you can use the system's Keyboard shortcuts option to create a custom hotkey for these functions, instead of having to access them through the menu. To do this, go to the Shortcuts section of the Keyboard system preferences, and select App Shortcuts in the list of categories. Then click the Plus button and choose the Finder as the target application for the shortcut. Next, enter the menu title exactly as it is in the Menu Title field, followed by typing the desired shortcut in the Keyboard Shortcut field.

When finished, this hotkey should now invoke the specified function to merge all windows or move a current tab to a new window.

Questions? Comments? Have a fix? Post them below or e-mail us!
Be sure to check us out on Twitter and the CNET Mac forums.