Tab arrow mark1. Usually about five spaces wide, a tab is an indentation at the beginning of a line of text to signify a new paragraph in a document or to help create equal spacing between multiple lines. When formatting marks are visible, tabs are represented by an arrow, as shown in the example picture to the right.

Tab in a regular expression

With many programming languages and when working with a regular expression, a tab is matched by using the "\t" meta-character or escape sequence. For example, with the Perl code below if the $example variable contains any tab, the script would print "I found a tab!" when ran.

if ($example =~ /\s/) { print "I found white space!"; }

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2. In a software program window and in an Internet browser, a tab allows for the user to access different parts of a menu, program window, or web page. Below is an example of what tabs may look like in a Microsoft Windows setting.


Tip: Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Tab to switch between open tabs in a document or web browser.

3. In an Internet browser, a tab refers to an open window in tabbed browsing.

Tip: When closing an Internet browser with more than one open tab, you may be prompted to confirm that you want to close all browser tabs.

Tab keyboard key4. A tab is a keyboard key that inserts a tab character or advances the cursor to other tab settings on a line. This key can also move between selectable items in a dialog box. The picture shows an example of the Tab key.

Where is the tab key on the keyboard?

Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the tab key highlighted in blue.

Tab key

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5. A tab is a plastic piece used to enable/disable write-protection on floppy diskette drives.

6. When referring to a command, tabs is a Linux command that sets tabs in the terminal. See the tabs command for further information.

Also see: Floppy drive definitions, Indent, Operating system terms, Keyboard terms, Tab stop, White space