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Tab Control in WPF

By Purushottam Rathore on Jan 29, 2009
In this article I am going to explain how to implement tabcontrol in WPF.
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The Tab control is a common UI element that has been around for some time. It makes a convenient way to organize your window when there is more than could realistically fit and still be comprehensible. Tab Control is easier in Windows Presentation Foundation. Thank to XAML, you can build a tab control from the scratch with markup codes.
Two elements play main roles in building a tab control:

  • TabControl and
  • TabItem
TabControl is the container of one or more TabItem elements like as follows.

    <TabItem Header="Tab 1">xyz</TabItem>
    <TabItem Header="Tab 2">abc</TabItem>

Each TabControl can contain a collection of TabItem elements. TabItem has two specific attributes. Header is the string value that you see on top of each tab and IsSelected is a Boolean value that specifies if a tab is selected. Apparently only one tab can be selected at a time otherwise the first tab in list will be selected.

In WPF, Tabs are very easy to implement. Create a new WPF Window, remove the default Grid tags, and add the following XAML: 
    <TabItem Header="Tab 1">xyz</TabItem>
    <TabItem Header="Tab 2">abc</TabItem>

For example:


<Window x:Class="TabControl.Window1" xmlns=
Title="Window1" Height="300" Width="500">
<ScrollViewer HorizontalScrollBarVisibility="Auto" VerticalScrollBarVisibility="Auto">
    <Border Background="#99FFFFFF" BorderBrush="#CCCCFF" BorderThickness="2" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Padding="20" Margin="20,10,0,0" Width="400">
        <TabControl Name="Tabs1" TabStripPlacement="Top" Background="LightGray" BorderBrush="Blue" Margin="10,10,0,5">
            <TabItem Header="Name" IsSelected="True" Background="Gray">
                <TextBlock Height="150" Width="200" Margin="0,10,120,0">
                    <Bold>Purushottam Rathore</Bold>
            <TabItem Header="Image" Background="Gray">
                <Image Source="ballon.gif" Height="150" Width="200"/>

TabItem Header="Hotels" Background="Gray">
                <Image Source="r.jpg" Height="150" Width="200"/>
            <TabItem Header="Contact Us" Background="Gray">
                <Grid Height="150" Width="300">

                        <ColumnDefinition Width="*"></ColumnDefinition>
                        <ColumnDefinition Width="2*"></ColumnDefinition>

Label HorizontalAlignment="Right" Margin="0,12,0,0" Width="42.033">
                    <Label Grid.Row="1" HorizontalAlignment="Right" Margin="0,14,0,0" Width="40.097"> Email:</Label>
                    <TextBox Name="Name" Grid.Column="1" Margin="0,0,0,13" />
                    <TextBox Name="Email" Grid.Column="1" Grid.Row="1" Margin="0,14,0,0" />
                    <Button Grid.Column="1" Grid.Row="2" Width="75" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Name="CoolTabButton" Click="CoolTabButton_Click" Margin="0,15,0,12">OK</Button>




Figure 1:

TabItem contain the IsSelected property. if you write IsSelected="True" then that tab will select by default. In this example I have write IsSelected="True" in first tab so the first tab named "Name" is select bydefault (In above figure).


using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Windows;
using System.Windows.Controls;
using System.Windows.Data;
using System.Windows.Documents;
using System.Windows.Input;
using System.Windows.Media;
using System.Windows.Media.Imaging;
using System.Windows.Navigation;
using System.Windows.Shapes;
namespace TabControl
    public partial class Window1 : Window
        public Window1()

        private void CoolTabButton_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
            TabItem ti = Tabs1.SelectedItem as TabItem;
            MessageBox.Show("This is " + ti.Header + " tab");

Now debug the application, you will get follwoing output.


Figure 2:


Figure 3:


Figure 4:


Figure 5:

TabStripPlacement is an attribute that lets you to change the position of tab strip (default is Top). There are four attribute of TabStripPlacement.
  • Top
  • Left
  • Right
  • Bottom
If you write TabStripPlacement="Bottom" then you will get following output


Figure 6: Tabs are at bottom position.

Article Extensions
Contents added by Mahesh Chand on May 26, 2009
How to add a Context Menu to a Tab Control

TabItem.ContextMenu is used to add a ContextMenu to a TabItem. The following code snippet creates a TabControl where the first TabItem has a ContextMenu with three Menu items.

    <TabItem Name="ColorTabItem" Header="Color Tab">
            <ContextMenu MenuItem.Click="ContextMenuClickEventHandler">
                <MenuItem Header="Red" Name="RedMenuItem"/>
                <MenuItem Header="Blue" Name="BlueMenuItem"/>
                <MenuItem Header="Orange" Name="OrangeMenuItem"/>
            Tab Item data here
    <TabItem Name="ShapeTabItem" Header="Shape Tab"></TabItem>

Write this click event handler to your code behind.

void ContextMenuClickEventHandler(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
    if (e.Source == RedMenuItem )
        ColorTabItem.Header = "Red Item";
        ColorTabItem.Foreground = Brushes.Red;
    else if (e.Source == BlueMenuItem )
        ColorTabItem.Header = "Blue Item";
        ColorTabItem.Foreground = Brushes.Blue;
    else if (e.Source == OrangeMenuItem )
        ColorTabItem.Header = "Orange Item";
        ColorTabItem.Foreground = Brushes.Orange;

The output looks like this. Download the attached project for more details.

Purushottam Rathore

I am working as a Software Developer and has 6 years of experience on Microsoft Technology and having a Master Degree in Computer Application. I really like to work in the .NET platform. and working with ASP.NET 2.0/3.5/... Read more