Linux users these days get to perform various operations through programs having high-end GUIs. However, there are multiple reasons to use the Linux command line called the Terminal.

  • Through Terminal, you can access many powerful native Linux commands as well as the empowering command-line features of many desktop applications.
  • You can install software to Ubuntu much more easier through the Command Line, than the graphical installation alternative.
  • You might have seen that many online-help guides will tell you how to resolve a problem through the command Line. No matter which desktop environment you are using or which version of Linux you are on, the Terminal commands are usually the same.

The easiest way to access the Terminal is using the shortcut ctrl+alt+t. You will observe that every time you launch a new Terminal, it will open in a separate window. The Terminal, however, provides you with a preference to launch new Terminal sessions as tabs in the same Terminal window. With this tabbed interface, you can improve your productivity similarly as you do by using tabs in modern internet browsers.

Enabling tabs in Terminal

Launch the Terminal and select Preferences from the Edit menu as follows:

Enabling tabs in Terminal

You will be able to see the following Preferences dialog; please make sure that the General tab is selected. From the “Open new terminals in:” drop-down, select Tab. When you click the Close button, your required changes will be confirmed and your Terminal will now be enabled to operate in a tabbed user interface.

Please note that you will be able to see a menu bar at the top of the Terminal or at the top panel of your Linux desktop(in case you have enabled Global Menus).

Terminal preferences

Adding a new tab

In order to add a new Terminal as a tab in the existing Terminal window, please select New Terminal from the Files menu as follows:

Add a Terminal tab

You will be able to see the new tab opened with the previous tab running its session.

Note: If you want to launch a new Terminal window instead of opening it in a tab, click ctrl+alt+t

Launch new terminal tab

When more than one tab is opened in a Terminal, you can add more tabs simply by clicking the plus button located on the upper right side of the tabs. New tabs are opened in the same directory as that of the previous Terminal tab.

Switching among tabs

You can switch from one tab to another in the following ways:

  • Clicking on a specific tab to make it active.
  • Clicking on the down arrow at the right side of the tabs and selecting the tab you want to switch to.
  • All tabs are given a number from 1 to the number of tabs open. The shortcut Alt +[number of the tab] will take you to that tab.

Changing order of tabs

You can use one of the following ways to change the order of your tabs:

  • Right-clicking the selected tab and clicking Move Terminal Left or Move terminal Right from the menu.
  • Dragging a tab left or right.

Please remember that now the tabs will be in the new order and will be assigned new tab numbers. You will use these new numbers to switch among tabs using the Alt+[number of the tab] control.

Change tab order

Closing a tab

You can close a tab through the following ways:

  • Clicking the x button of a tab.
  • Selecting a tab and then clicking the Close tab option from the File menu,

Please remember that when you close the Terminal window, your tabs are not saved. However, the Terminal will still be enabled to display terminals in tabs form the next time you launch the Terminal.

After learning how to work with tabs, you will be able to utilize the added speed and ease of use that the Terminal empowers you with. As you start working in multiple tabs, you will see that it is very simple to add, close, rearrange and switch tabs for greater performance. Follow this tutorial to see how instead of opening a new Terminal for all your operations, it is a smart option to open and work in tabs in a single window.

Working with Multiple Terminal Tabs in Ubuntu

Karim Buzdar

About the Author: Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various web sites. You can reach Karim on LinkedIn