OS X Mavericks revives, revises Mac OS 9-style Finder tabs

“OS X Mavericks is a revival in more ways than one. Apple is reviving the OS X roadmap by moving to California names. It’s hoping to keep Mac sales growing at a time when overall PC sales are sliding,” Phil Moore writes for Stabley Times. “And it’s reviving Finder tabs, a brief and ill fated experiment from the Mac OS 9 era of the late nineties. They didn’t work then, but only because they weren’t done right. OS X Mavericks looks like it may have finally come up with the proper implementation of a fifteen year old idea, one so far into the rear view mirror that most Mac users either don’t remember it or hadn’t yet switched to the platform.”

Moore writes, “Tabbed Finder browsing in OS X Mavericks may finally perfect what Apple was trying to do with the single-window Finder in the earliest OS X incarnations, and in the Mac OS 9 Finder before that.”

Read more in the full article here.

27 Comments

    1. No, Spaces is still there. Different concept altogether. Finder Tabs groups multiple Finder windows into one – like Safari groups multiple browser windows into one.

      Spaces remains Spaces, except they work even better with much improved multiple monitor support in OS X Mavericks.

      1. Agree. I keep apps open in a given space related to a task. For example, I have space where all the apps and files that I need for a Keynote presentation I am working on live. I have a space dedicated to web browsing and one for email. I have a few others, too, but you get the picture. It helps me focus on the task at hand without being distracted by that incoming email or new MDN article.

      1. Thanks so much for the screenshot. Now I remember them.

        But I don’t really remember using them a lot, which makes me think that they were kinda’ clunky. An interesting idea that just didn’t work quite right.

        I still have a machine with OSX 9 on it – maybe I’ll fire it up.

        1. I do remember using them as quick launchers. I’d have aliases to my most used apps in a folder, in a single mini-icon column, which would then live permanently down there as a Finder tab.

          Very much like keeping a folder in the Dock now.

          Of course, these days we have other ways to get at an app just as quick if not quicker (with Spotlight your hands don’t even need to leave the keyboard).

          1. They were called pop-up windows. You dragged a pre-sized window down to the bottom of the screen and it transformed into a little tab. Click ’em or hover with an icon and they popped up to their predefined height. I loved them and used ’em lots. Along with Finder-Pop.

            Good times.…

      2. Were they available in OS 9? I don’t remember using them.

        It kinda makes me nostalgic for when you could manually manage RAM in the Classic OS. It made you feel like a Mac God lording over your Desktop reign and your Application subjects.

        1. Manual memory management and cooperative multitasking are two things I *don’t* miss from Mac OS Classic. I changed program memory settings all the time myself, but in retrospect that’s definitely not an example of “it just works” if you ran out of program memory working on a large file.

      3. To create a finder tab in OS9 all you did was drag a folder to the bottom of the screen. I had tabs for apps, games, pictures, etc. They worked great and I loved ’em.

        1. I like the new tabs bar. It’s still not quite right but not too bad. But I still want and have a need for the OS9 style tabs. I also want to have side by side tabs in both Finder and Safari to make my workflow most convenient. All of these things would be very useful in different and sometimes overlapping workflows. This “one or the other at a time” thing is never going to work for me. It’s THE most frustrating thing for any workflow on the iPad’s. For me it is the difference between me doing work on it and not. I think a tabs bar in iOS (iPad specifically) would be wonderful. Like what they have just announced in Mail but globally, the mail implementation might be a feature test. this is often how Apple implement new features. Slow but sure. Test in an app then make global if it works. So I can have a pages doc docked in a visible tab and a main docked in a visible tab. or even two of some such docs tabbed in separate window. As soon as it’s out of site for me it becomes difficult and undesirable.

    1. TF can’t hold a candle to Path Finder. If you look at the features side-by-side it’s no contest.
      The level of customization PF gives me is astounding.

  1. How about reviving the editable Apple menu? SunnyMenu and other hacks don’t seem to stick around, and one of these OS updates is going to break them. Folder stack in the Dock? Puh-leese.

  2. I’m looking forward to tabs in the finder and the merge feature which brings all open finder windows into a single window using tabs. Simple ideas but big improvements to workflow.

  3. If this article is referring to the Mac OS 9 feature where you dragged an open Finder window to the bottom of the screen, and it turned into a “tab” along the bottom of the screen, that was a cool feature. I thought of it as a “drawer” that I “pulled out” (by clicking on the tab) for quick access to commonly used files (or aliases to apps).

    But that is not anything like tabbed Finder windows in Mavericks. Apple isn’t really “reviving” this idea from Mac OS 9. Apple is obviously copying a feature from web browsers. It’s like the Forward and Back buttons, which also came from web browsers (and did not exist in Mac OS 9’s Finder).

    Not sure how useful this will be, for Finder. When I have multiple Finder windows open, it is usually because I am visually comparing two (or more) folders, or I am copying files from one folder to another. In those cases, it is useful to see both Finder windows at the same time.

    Also, Finder windows already have “tabbing” (for commonly accessed locations), in the form of FAVORITES in the sidebar. You can add your own locations to the sidebar, and click on the location to “tab” to it. These “tabs” are vertical, which take up less space (per tab) than horizontal placement.

    I can see that this would be useful for someone who lives in Full Screen App mode all the time. I don’t mind having the feature available, since it will be “out of the way” if I don’t use it. I assume a Finder window with only one tab will not show the tabs bar at all.

    1. “When I have multiple Finder windows open, it is usually because I am visually comparing two (or more) folders, or I am copying files from one folder to another. In those cases, it is useful to see both Finder windows at the same time.”

      I don’t have access to Mavericks (vote no on the name) but is there anything that indicates that we won’t be able to do the above?

      1. Of course you can still use Finder as before. The tabbed browsing is an additional feature. My point is about how useful this additional feature will be in Finder. It’s not like I spend all day (or even 15 minutes a day) managing my files, and when I use Finder, I usually only need one Finder window open (to look for something), or intentionally want to see more than one window open at the same time (to compare two folder or copy files between folders).

        The new “tagging” feature, on the other hand, will be far more useful.

  4. Not sure what they’re talking about; you can’t drag a window to the side of the screen and make a tab, like in OS 9. It’s still a good idea, but I miss OS9 tabs a lot.

    Unless there’s some third-party add-on I don’t know about, OS 9 had nothing like Mavericks tabs.

  5. I recall five to 10 years ago, tabbed Finder windows were a hoped-for feature of each new OS X update, but they never happened.

    Now suddenly, out of nowhere, they’re here!

    1. Agree; that was back in the day when they trusted us to manage our own files in whatever way we thought was best.

      Remember? The computer for the rest of us? The ones who wanted the computer to work for us, not us work for the computer?

      I know, I know there will be those who can’t bear to believe that the new way isn’t always the best way.

      What I do know is that since I got out of Snow Leopard, my production costs for content are up between 25 and 50%, and this is because for serious content production in graphics, web, HTML5, you use 3rd party software that normally uses project folders which may contain files created in as many as 10 different specialized applications. Lion/Mountain Liion, I believe based upon hard experience, cannot manage the various versions of the files unless you allow the operating to save files where it wants, and that is not consistent even if you have saved a version of a file several times before. You have to visually verify each time where your hard-earned file went. It’s a lot of work, which means I should charge more for my increased production time, but I realistically can only go so far on that.

      The third party apps have good reasons for organizing the project folders the way they do. You want to play the game, you play on their field. And their support people tell me that the changes in OSX have caused their support costs and time to go up very significantly. We need things to work, most of all, and if it means doing it like in the 90’s, then we do it, and we actually do it happily because good change is good change, but bad change is massively expensive and it makes things slower and more frustrating.

      It is much more than Time Machine can handle, trust me.

      But tagging and tabbing makes me hope and maybe think that adults are back in charge. Jonathan Ives is a thinker first and a dreamer second as far as I can tell and I like that, no I need that.

      Optimistic that they actually will pay attention to pro users. Thought it was gone forever.

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