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Whenever I double-click a Word file, it opens it in a new window. I want it to open the file in a tab of the existing window by default. I would think this should be simple, but no matter how I Google it, they want me to change the taskbar. Not only isn't that a function in Word 2013, this has nothing to do with the taskbar.

I know I could just open a tab and click open in the program, but that isn't what I'm used to nor what I prefer.

How do I change the default when double-clicking a .doc in File Explorer?

MS Word with tab

  • Based on your responses to my answer, it is unclear what you are asking. Please include screenshots of the tabs you see on your document editor program that you hope to replicate on Word. – music2myear Feb 13 at 16:41
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Microsoft Word is not a Tabbed interface. While (VERY) old versions of Word offered some rudimentary windowing, this has been removed or adjusted. Each individual Word window can function in conjunction using the various commands on the View menu Window section, allowing for tiling, splitting, and other functions.

But the overall Microsoft Word UI has lacked an integrated single-pane function since at least Word 2007, and it has NEVER offered a tabbed interface supporting multiple documents in the same pane.

  • Wow, that used so much jargon, that I can't tell if you answered my question. I'm guessing you mean that I can't do that, and opening a word document will always open a new window? My version of Word has tabs that show different documents, but maybe that's different than an "integrated single-pane function". Is this a fault of the program, or is it correct the way it is? I'm reely dumb. – ALLEN N RUBINSTEIN Feb 13 at 1:44
  • What "version" of Word do you use. Including a screenshot could be very helpful. I'm familiar with versions of Microsoft Word from I believe Word 2.0 (running on Windows 3.1) to present, with the exception of Office 365, having learned typing on the earlier versions, and supported as a career the later ones, and I don't believe any of them have a multi-document tabbed interface (like a web browser, but with documents on each tabs). – music2myear Feb 13 at 16:38
  • Also, what you're calling "jargon" is my attempt to clarify the difference between the tabs that ARE in the Word UI since Office 2007, part of the Ribbon, and the tabs you appear to be referring to, which would have more in common with those of a modern Web Browser. Because both are tabs and yet you are clearly not talking about the tabs in the Ribbon, I had to use words to try to indicate the difference. Perhaps I chose different words than you would have chosen. All the same, if you were to edit your question to include a Screenshot, it would go a long way towards clarifying. – music2myear Feb 13 at 16:40
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There has never been a tabbed feature in Word, so opening a new file obviously always creates a new window. If you've seen a tab in Word before then it's because you or somebody else has installed some add-in for the tab interface. There are a lot of add-ins for that purpose:

If Office supports tabs then no one would spend time writing such useless things. To check your installed add-ins open File > Options > Add-ins

So simply put, it's not possible to open files as a new tab in the current window


Before Office 2013, word uses MDI so it's possible to restore child windows for multiple documents and see them inside the parent window, then hide separate taskbar buttons for them so only one window will appear, but there's still no tab bar for you.

Word 2013 onward uses SDI so there will always be separate buttons on the taskbar. You can turn off the taskbar's hide label feature so that each document has its own button like a tab, though. And you can switch between documents with Ctrl+F6 or Alt+F6

In the future any apps can have tabs with Sets feature in Windows 10

  • I'm certain I've never added any tabbed function to Word. It came this way. I'll add a screenshot to the question to show. – ALLEN N RUBINSTEIN Feb 13 at 22:02
  • @ALLENNRUBINSTEIN as said, it's not a feature of Word. If you didn't install the add-in then someone else did, or you've used a non-official installer that has the add-in integrated – phuclv Feb 14 at 1:32

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