An American Editor

January 27, 2012

Worth Noting: Tabs for Microsoft Office

One of the things I dislike about Microsoft Office is the difficulty in going between open documents. It would be nice if Word, for example, had tabs I could click to move between documents, similar to what Excel offers to navigate within a document (Excel needs tabs for navigating between documents).

Well, there is a partial solution. It is the free add-on called Office Tabs. I have tried it and it works well for as much as it works. I know I sound down on the product, but my complaint is specific to the way I work.

I have mentioned before that I use three 24-inch rotating monitors in my editing. In a project I am currently working on, the authors supplied an outline for each chapter, which tells me what the head levels are supposed to be (the outline also has to appear at the beginning of the chapter, so I need to make sure that the outline and the heads actually match). What I like to do is have the chapter open on one monitor and the outline on a different monitor. I also need to have the references file (I segregate the references into their own file while I am editing and then reintegrate them when I am done) open, but that file can stay on the same screen as the text file as I don’t need to access it frequently.

With Word sans the Office Tab add-in, I can drag the instance of the outline file to another monitor; with the add-in in place, I cannot. The add-in causes a single instance of Word to open and then each open document to be in its own tab. Supposedly, for $25 I can upgrade and it appears that with the upgrade version I can drag a tab to another monitor. But I don’t know that and there doesn’t seem to be a way to e-mail the maker and ask.

Anyway, I did try the free version and it does work well. It installs tabs in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. The add-in requires Windows XP or newer operating system and Office 2003 or newer (32- or 64-bit version). There is also a separate free add-in for Outlook 2007 or newer, called Outlook Tabs.

The add-ins are worth trying to see if they fit your work style. They easily install and equally easily — and cleanly — uninstall. In the meantime, I’m debating whether to try the pro version in hopes that it will let me drag a tab to a different monitor.

If you try the add-ins, let us know what you think of them.

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