Tabbed Browsing/User Interface Design

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Tabbed browsing is one of the most visible aspects of Firefox, and has a large number of use cases.

Improvements in the Firefox 2 cycle will focus on the following aspects:

  • Shifting to new tabs instead of new windows by default
  • Improving discoverability for tabbed browsing
  • Support close buttons on tabs for initial discoverability
  • Providing a solution to tab overflow (too many tabs)
  • Providing support for reopening closed tabs
  • Handling "open in tabs" better and more consistently across the UI.
  • Examining foreground vs. background heuristic for consistency concerns


  • Tab ordering/reordering should be preserved
  • Research on frequency of use cases should be done, probably via instrumentation+flexible tab prefs, in order to optimize for the most common use-cases.
  • Full keyboard access (implemented for Firefox 1.5) should be preserved.
  • Needs to be flexible enough to fit the needs our current users have, while providing a more obvious and understandable default configuration.

Design Docs