How to manage lots of open files in PHPStorm

I use PHPStorm all day every day with 30-50 open files.  The editor tab management features really need to be improved to handle this kind of situation.  If you don't force a single row of tabs, then the tabs jump all over the place when you select a new tab to be active, which makes it impossible to find the tab you want to select.  If you do use a single row of tabs, then the drop down list in the upper right doesn't have the option to be sorted alphabetically, which again makes it very hard to find the file you wish to open.

I would love to see two small features:
1) When using multiple rows of tabs, DON'T always re-order the rows of tabs so that the active tab is in the first row, but just leave the tabs in the same order.
2) An option when using a single row of tabs to alphabetically sort the drop down list of files.

Alternatively, is there a better way to manage this many open files?



I really hope that telling someone what they need isn't a standard response around here...  I came here to ask the same question as I have maybe 10-15 files open at a time and run into the same problem.  The tabs jump all over and it's highly annoying.  The filenames used in the project are a bit long, but that isn't anything I can change.  There are alternatives as you mentioned, but if that's the case, why even bother having the tabs in the first place?  The reason is, that's how almost every editor works and people are used to it and like it.  So please don't discount what is a legitimate request to make something better and more useful, just because you don't do it that way or think the original poster should work differently.


I would expect that not many people is having this problems anymore... HOWEVER, I was, couldn't find a solution so I looked again on the IDE to try to find it, here's the way:

Window -> Editor Tabs -> Tabs Placement 


- Show Tabs in Single Row


In our daily work I have never seen, that I or one off my team member have opened less than 20 files! We all have raised the number of recent files and the tab limit
That is not an abnormal situation for an developer in enterprise software projects. We handle code in projects with often more than 700 files.
BTW because phpstorm is able to manage so many files without slowing down intolerable like other IDE, we switch to phpstorm.

So I fully agree with the TO that the behaviour of the tabs is a little bit strange and there is some space for improvements.


I've proposed adding an "Open Files" view to the Project Pane:

This would make navigating many open files much easier, I do this with 20+ files open in Kate (KDE editor) often. The files are shown in the directory tree, and can be shown and hidden easily with a keyboard shortcut to save screen space.


I am suggesting a feature to JetBrains, I would like you people to read about it and tell me if this would be handy to someone else, if so, please backup the petition

Basically Im suggesting a Meta-File/Tab Organizer, that works in the same way and fashion of the Layer Navigation Window you can find in Photoshop and other media software like it.

In this way you can keep a watch over the files you're really interested in, Organize them under group folders (that wont mess with your project file structure), label such groups so you can add context, and color the tabs to keep an easy visual organization.

I do Program in Magento and opening many files is a day to day, whether debugging or developing, and Xdebug jumping all over the core of the framework makes it worse. Not to mention file names that repeat all over the place and the only differentiator is the module folder they live in which is not easily observable on the tabs names.

Anyway just an Idea, and hope to find some support, I'd really love to see this coming to life. 


This is actually really interesting.  I've never coded like that myself, so I see what you mean when I open a bunch of files and switch between rows; it can be a little jarring.  I tend to only have a few tabs open at once, Ctrl+Clicking to what I need or Ctrl+N/Ctrl+Shift+N to go directly to new files.

Alternatively, is there a better way to manage this many open files?

Do not keep so many files opened -- I doubt that you really need *that* many of them in a single point of time.

1) You can always use Ctrl+E (View | Recent Files) or alike ("View | Recently Changed Files" and "View | Recent Changes") to navigate between recent files. In case if file is already removed from this list -- if will offer to open "Navigate | Class" dialog with your already entered text.

Or use "Navigate | File / Class" straight away -- you just need to get used such workflow (which can be problematic at first, no doubts here).

2) "Tools | Tasks & Contexts | Save/Load/Clear Context" to manage (open/close) few tabs at once (usefull when working on different tasks to switch between them quickly)


I've used favourite lists this (sometimes)


I came here after searching if it was possible to close files from the drop-down menu of "hidden" open files in IntelliJ once the horizontal bar is full. I didn't find an answer, so I submitted a request for this:

I'm used to this feature from my previous IDE and I think it's a very important one to implement.


@Isc Hazael

You may be interested in these links:

Right now you can use Scopes and File Colors to colorize your tabs and files in the Project View panel so it's easier to distinguish what that file is about:

You can also use Tabdir plugin -- see think link for a custom build that works with 2020.3:


I think that scopes do a great job of conceptually breaking up a project into manageable parts, but the presentation of these parts is hit (Project View, Open Files filter) and miss (Tab management). So I've opened an issue to bring scopes to the tab bar:



You are welcome to submit your improvement thoughts in form of *concrete ideas*  to the Issue Tracker at (IDEA  is the home for IDE-wide/platform functionality) -- I'm pretty sure  devs would like to make their software even better than it is now:

  • please search for existing tickets before submitting new one and vote/comment there if one already exist
  • one issue (bug/feature/usability) per ticket (for easier ticket management)
  • the better you describe your ticket (the actual issue, the benefits of proposed feature etc) the better chance that it will be implemented sooner

IF  you have wide screens -- have you tried to put tab list on left/right  side? This way you can see more tabs at the same time.

On  related note (not really about tabs, but still):


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