Tabbed or stacked fractal panel grouping

Created: March 25, 2021 | Updated: November 29, 2022

This article covers issues with how panels may be grouped, stacked, or docked one above the other in fractal grouping or tabbed mode when docking, and how they can be dragged to arrange them to dock as desired.

Starting in Version: 18.0
Up to Version: Current

Solution Details

Panels can be grouped by tabs with only one panel visible at any time, or they can be grouped in fractal mode with multiple panels in the group stacked in the pane so they are visible at the same time.
  1. Make sure your panels are in docked mode rather than popup (fly-out) mode by clicking the push-pin icon in the upper right corner (just to the left of the close cross) until it is pointing down.
  2. Click and hold the left mouse button on the title of the panel that you would like to affect. It is important to click on the text of the panel's title not a free space of panel's title bar. Otherwise a whole group of the panels will be moved.
  1. Drag the panel away from the others until it is free floating, then release the left mouse button.
  2. Click and hold the left mouse button on the title of the panel again, this time drag it back to the middle of the group where you want it, until the entire area of the panel is highlighted in blue,
    1. *** For a fractal stacking, drag the cursor while holding the title until you land on one of the four arrows (top, bottom, left, or right.)  The blue highlighting will change as you hover over the different arrows.  Fractal Mode may need to be enabled.  See *** below.
    2. For tabbed grouping, do not land on one of the four arrows at the edges.  You may need to repeat this process if you had multiple panels stacked, and again for each editor (Schematic and PCB etc.)
  3. Release the left mouse button.
For tabbed panels you can then drag the tabs to change their order. 

If you are not able to unstack your panels, try Preferences ► System ► View ► Desktop section ► Reset button.

*** With the release of AD 20.0.9, you can change a preference setting to prevent or allow panel stacking.  Go to Preferences ► System ► General ► Advanced button to find the setting UI.DisableFractalMode, then check the box under the Value column to prevent stacking or uncheck the box to allow stacking. Newer versions have this box checked by default to prevent accidental stacking, which most customers do not want.


For the change to take affect you'll need to unstack the panels once (if they were stacked) and then restart Altium Designer.  If you checked the box the panels will always display in full size from then on.  If you unchecked the box you will now be able to stack your panels as described above.

Here's the documentation that announced this and other Workspace Enhancements:

This documentation on Working with Panels in Altium Designer has much more detail and may be of further interest:
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