Seeking feedback: JupyterLab Single-Document mode switch position

A question about preferences from the community: JupyterLab 3.0 has a significantly enhanced single-document mode that brings the experience much closer to the focused single-activity mode of the classic Jupyter Notebook. We’d like to make it easy to switch to that mode in JupyterLab with a switch. We can put it in the upper right (across from the main menu) or down in the status bar.

Which would you prefer, the Mode switch in the upper right or in the status bar? We plan to make a decision Wednesday Nov 18 for JupyterLab 3.0.

Here are binder links where you can try out both options: upper right, status bar

Upper right:

Status bar:


Thanks for putting this together. Played with it and honestly both work well and have slightly different pros/cons. I don’t have a strong preference.

FYI, there is more discussion from developers on their opinions at

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Neither as long as it’s accessible from the View dropdown.

This is a great feature! I also think it’d be best to put the choice in the View menu and not as a separate toggle. If it remains outside of the menu then I’d prefer it on the bottom and with a label (or icon equivalent) of “Single Document” since “Mode” is fairly generic.


Note that the feature is also available in the View menu and command palette no matter what the decision about the toggle control is.

To clarify, it has been available in the view menu since 1.0, but it seems that many people still don’t know about it or don’t use it. We’re hoping a main interface UX control brings the visibility up and makes it so much easier to use that people will actually think about it and use it.


The status bar binder errors out for me so I haven’t tried that one out. But I think I’d have a slight preference for in the status bar.

I agree with what Ryan said about the description next to the slider. I find an on-off toggle for “mode” to be very confusing. You can turn “single document mode” on or off, but “mode” is to generic to turn on or off. Especially if you don’t follow along with jupyterlab’s github issues and thus know that mode = sdm. I think something like “focus” in place of mode may be more natural, and could help with discoverability over “mode”.

To clarify, it has been available in the view menu since 1.0, but it seems that many people still don’t know about it or don’t use it

I’m definitely one of those people; I had no idea, I guess there was just too much other good stuff to be busy with :slight_smile:


What about double click on the document tab header to make it full screen? Then we can have some element that appears in the toolbar that makes it clear how to exit single document mode.

I agree that “mode” is not clear.

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A toggle is not semantic. what about a “fullscreen” looking icon? I feel like most apps put those in the top right. Bottom left with the compute stats is out of place for any interactive “option”



When I was recording a demo yesterday I found myself wanting an even cleaner interface.

No buttons, no menus, everything collapsed into the jupyter logo in the top left.


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Someone else suggested that as well - thanks for adding your voice to the suggestion. Others want double-click on the document tab header to be rename, so this is probably a further discussion to have.

This illustrates one issue with using a full-screen icon - what should it mean? To some it means single-document mode, to others it means a browser full-screen mode (i.e., getting rid of the browser url bar, etc.). This is a new interpretation to me - getting rid of all menus and buttons.

Thanks everyone who shared their thoughts on this thread. To follow up, based on feedback here and on the pull request, as well as discussion in our public dev meeting, we decided to put the toggle in the status bar and merged the PR.

We are collecting further feedback about the single-document mode at The plan is to release 3.0 with single-document mode largely how it is (but possibly reverting the behavior of opening a new browser tab when double-clicking in the file browser), gathering feedback from the wider user community in 3.0, and iterating on it in the future.

I filed a 3.0 issue to consider changing the label from “Mode” to something else for 3.0:

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Here is one proposal: Simple Interface mode:

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It’s hard for me to provide feedback because I personally like and “understand” the current layout of Jupyterlab (without the toggle)… When I installed the 3.0 beta version I was distracted by the toggle, so that’s a minus for me.

It seems to me that it may be useful to study some users to see what they get confused by in the interface, and to design solutions to specifically resolve those things. If such user studies are carried out on the new interface I kind of doubt that (1) the confused users will end up finding and clicking on the new toggle and (2) even after directing the confused users to the toggle that it will resolve their issues.

Again it’s hard for me to understand a problem that I don’t have; however in my view most likely there’s a change that could be made to the interface which works better for everyone, instead of creating the toggling between modes.

For example, and I hope I’m not digressing too much, one fundamental thing that confuses me in the interface is navigation to the launcher, especially being able to open multiple launcher tabs. To me the launcher is something that is “home base”. As such, it’s confusing to me that you can then have multiple home bases.
(screenshot showing multiple launchers)

For the classic jupyter notebook you have the tree view as home base. The tree view presents the functionality that users usually need first: either create a notebook or search the big file browser for your existing notebook. Contrast this to the current JupyterLab where the “new notebook” button (on the launcher) is split from the file browser. Also in the classic notebook you can always click on the Jupyter icon in the top left to get back to home base. In contrast, clicking the Jupyter icon in JupyterLab doesn’t do anything, and thus has less of a sense of a home base.

Those are my thoughts…

Is it by design that the Single-document mode is triggered automatically when the main windows gets small?
Just hit this by accident on a small laptop window and was really lost on what happened for a while.
We are also actively trying to hide the mode toggle as it is “not for everyone”

Don’t know if I should post this as a bug or a feature request (could not find anything on this being a feature).

Tracking things down: that was introduced in Incrementally improve JupyterLab mobile UX by afshin · Pull Request #8456 · jupyterlab/jupyterlab · GitHub

Feel free to open an issue to discuss this decision if you feel it should be changed.

The launcher is more similar to the new tab in a browser, where when you open a new tab, it gives you a list of things you can fill that tab with (that’s why the launcher is replaced by the activity you select from it). In JLab, since you can have multiple activities open in different tabs, we wanted an easy way to create a new activity in a new tab. I imagine the current workflow as “I want to create a new activity, so click ‘+ New’, then choose the activity from the launcher for that tab.”