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Talk:Firefox:3.0 Tabbed Browsing

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Tab HTML Tag

This is probably a discussion that doesn't only belong here, but also at the W3C; how about making Firefox react to a new specification within the anchor tag? I'm just going to give an example that should be very clear: <A HREF="link" TARGET=_TAB>... I don't think there's any use in further explanation! --Xavez 06:39, 26 Mar 2005 (PST)

  • No. It's never a good thing to try and extend HTML, and Netscape's failure to realize this is one of the reasons for IE's market share today. You're right that there's no use in explaining further since this wouldn't happen anyway. :-)--Omikron 08:54, 26 Apr 2005 (PDT)
  • This is just as bad as target="_blank". You should let the user decide if he/she wants the link to open in a new tab/window, not the author of the page.--Jero 17:15, 20 Jun 2005 (PDT)
  • I think that if the user want to open url in new page can use the right button or the click+shift. The _tab target can be a useful thing in order to replace the _blank target. Considering that soon the tabbed browsing exists in all browser (reading the ms site IE7 will have the tabbed browsing too) --Dr.Tarr 18:35, 08 Sep 2005 (PDT)
  • Letting the user decide for standalone pages is fine, but for Rich Internet Applications, it would be very powerful to be able to leverage the browser's tabs in some way (ie, if application supports double click to open documents in a new window from a view page...why not allow the application to display a right-click "Open in New Tab" menu item? Some experimentation has found that IE 7 previews seem to support opening in a new tab (if tabbed browsing is enabled) if a named target or "_blank" is specified for an anchor or doing a and specifying a named target or "_blank" and not specifying any options arg. --Vseraphin 19:24, 14 Oct 2005 (PDT)

Per-tab close button

Does "close button on tabs" mean a per-tab close button? This seems like a usability issue to me - gaim does this, and it's much too easy to unintentionally close a tab. --CTho 11:39, 28 Jan 2005 (PST)

on tabbed browsing

I wrote some thoughts in the Firefox:Tabbed_Browsing:Scratch_Pad that I believe should be taken into consideration when talking about improvements to Tabbed Browsing. cheers. -- AlliXSenoS 18:16, 30 Jan 2005 (PST)

Why not use the back button?

This is an idea I had that I think might work. Imagine single-window mode is on (since we are discussing tabs), and a user clicks a link that opens in a new tab. We could leave the back button enabled so if the user clicks the back button, the tab closes and firefox returns to the tab that page came from. The same could apply to new windows from links, when a new window opens, click the back button (or press backspace) to close the window and go back to the page that opened it.

This will benefit beginner users because they can sometimes be lost by randomly placed new-window links and plus it means I can easily close a lot of tabs and windows with just the backspace button.

Any thoughts on this?

  • As a user, I must agree - the back button isn't enabled in that case, and enabling it this way would give it the natural meaning. Tobu 06:17, 13 Mar 2005 (PST)
  • I strongly disagree. People already grasp the meaning of "back". And having "back" do different things on different tabs will only make matters worse. For example, in one tab "back" would go to the previous page, and on th eother tab it would close it and focus the page that opened it (_if_ it still exists). --Caleb 01:23, 25 Apr 2005 (PDT)
  • Every accessibility guide will tell you the same: new windows confuse users, and because Firefox opens new tabs so seemlessly, the user will sometimes wonder why the back button doesn't work (even I do this sometimes). The only logical behaviour would be to close the recently opened window in order to revert to the previous location. This should be coupled with an Undo Close Tab feature, but will give a significant accessibility advantage to Firefox.--Omikron 08:48, 26 Apr 2005 (PDT)

    • Agreed, Firefox is aimed at Mum & Dad users so I see no reason why the navigation paradigm should be updated to fit modern browsers. Firefox could have the edge by having the easiest navigation of any browser by far. The back button is for going back to the previous page, why oh why does no browser keep the back button enabled on new windows/tabs? (except IE!) because nobody is thinking about Mum & Dad and doesn't see the difficulty in constantly switching paradigms. I've mentioned this idea on Blake's Blog twice and here in the Wiki and still nobody seems interested! If Firefox ever wants to be the easiest browser of all, it needs to update the back button paradigm!

      Kroc 12:48, 26 Apr 2005 (PDT)
  • Why not make the back button red instead of green when the tab's gonna close? I like this idea ! It really makes sense. --Dzjiepie 16:47, 8 May 2005 (PDT)
  • No, bad idea. A back button is for "going back", having it close a tab is counter-intutive: "Where'd my tab go?" Further, you lose your "forward" history at that point, from either the new tab or the old one (depending on implementation). A new tab is a branch in your browsing, separated from the original tab; the two need to navigate separately. Instead of trying to merge back into the original tab, just duplicate the old back list in the new tab, adding the page you were on. That way, clicking back does exactly what you'd expect: takes you back to where you reached that page from, but without making the tab disappear. As Kroc mentioned above, this is a place where IE got it right... or at least closer than Firefox has. Opening a new tab by hand (e.g. File-New Tab) should still be a fresh start, but tabs opened via links should borrow the setting of the page that spawned them, as if they'd been duplicated, then had the link clicked. [All of this applies to windows too, but tab/window is just too cumbersome.] -FunnyMan3595 19:15, 14 Aug 2005 (PDT)

I agree with FunnyMan3595. Simply copy the history when the new tab is opened when you click on a link (eg the case where webmaster assign the link to be opened in new window, and Firefox changes it to open new tab instead). However no history should be copied for the following situations:
(1) You deliberately want to open in a new tab (eg you middle click on the link to open in a new tab). If you don't want to load it in current tab, you most likely don't want history either.
(2) You press Ctrl+T to open a new tab.
Even better, make all options so users can configure in what situations should the history be copied. --Wai 04:04, 5 September 2007 (PDT)

Complex Solution

I must admit I sometimes close a tab by an accident. I IMO think, that's because: 1. The tab-close button is "shared" and stands at the same point when other tab gets focus after closing the current tab. 2. It takes time to distinguish which tab has focus since the non-focused tabs are not dimmed.

As a remedy, I'd suggest to go the way Eclipse manages its tabs, ie. when hovering over a tab, a close button icon appears on it. At least, this would eliminate the issue at point 1. To improve the focused tab distinction as described at point 2, I'd suggest do dimm all the tabs that don't have focus.

When it comes to the Tobu's suggestion of using back button, I think it's great idea as it tracks the history accross the tabs. That would necessarilly make history more complicated since a linear row of URLs wouldn't be enough in this case. Instead, a tree of URLs, branching for each new tab would have to be maintained. If realized, I'd suggest to change colour of the back button when closing the current tab and switching to the "parent" tab.

As an addition, a solution to the missing progress bar for unfocused tabs, I'd preffer an improved throber - a rotating (indicates "still in progress") filling pie diagram of the throbber size. This solution would take up much less space on a tab in comparison to the common progress bar. When hovering such a tab, a tooltip shows the exact percentage of the progress. Any toghts?

See Firefox:2.0 Tabbed Browsing. --funTomas 13:16, 13 Mar 2005 (PST)

Caleb's Proposal


Firefox only offers very basic tabbed browsing functionality, something that should be addressed until 2.0.

As a user who tried out all the latest browsers there are special features I've grown to like which should simply be built-in into Firefox. Some may argue that you can find an extension for everything, but some novice users simply can't find those extensions, or even configure them properly.

I will try to form some kind of a proposal for improved tabbed browsing in this section, and once it's ready I will move this section to Firefox:2.0 Tabbed Browsing. Note: This is still WIP and every now and then I will be adding new things to it.

If you have any comments/suggestions, add them in the Comments section

Tabbed Browsing Proposal for 2.0 (Work In Progress)

Discussed features:

  • Tabbed Browsing Presets
  • Window Modes
  • Tab Behaviour
    • Focus Settings
  • Tab Appearance
  • Tab Groups
  • Tab Sessions
  • Tab History (Last Opened Tabs for the current session)
  • Extensions

In Detail

Tabbed Browsing Presets

A preset is a set of prefs and their values. The preset will only contains prefs that modify the tabbed browsing configuration. This will allow us to ship Firefox with preconfigured presets (Legacy Preset and Modern Preset). The Legay Preset will be configured to have the same functionality that Firefox 1.0 offered (for those who still prefer it), and the Modern Preset will be configured for the optimal tabbed browsing experience (should be turned on by default).

Window Modes

Firefox should support 3 types of window modes:

Use Multiple Windows

In this mode any action that is set to open a new window, will do so. Of course, the user can still force to open in a new tab via a middle-click, or any other shortcut he sets for "open in a new tab". This should be a part of the Firefox Legacy Preset.

Note: Starting another Firefox process should open a new window pointing to the user's homepage.

Use Multiple Windows when Forced

In this mode windows will only be opened explicitly (by user request). Any action that should want to open a new window, will open it in a new tab instead, unless the user explicitly wants it in a new window (Example: For links, Right Click -> Open in a new Window).

Note: Starting another Firefox process should open a new window pointing to the user's homepage.

Use a Single Window

This mode will force any action that opens a new window to open in a new tab. Firefox cannot have multiple instances open (unless it's a different version of Firefox that's open). 'This mode should also disable/remove any menu items that say "Open in a New Window".

Note: Starting another Firefox process should open a new tab pointing to the user's homepage.

Tab Grouping

Tab Grouping is a way to identify a group of tabs as one. There might be several uses for this feature, but at the moment it should be the lowest of priorities (unless users vote for it). There's not much to say, except describe the configuration of this feature, so here are the prefs for it:

Tab Grouping Preferences

Note: The groups should appear on the tabbar


  • Tab Groups - Enabled/Disabled
    • This simply enabled/disabled the feature altogether.
  • Name of the default group
    • All URLs that existed previous to the installation, Any URL that is opened from an external application will be opened in this group unless otherwise overridden by other options.
  • Group to open by default - drop down list of all groups defaulting to default group
    • Sort of like Home group that is opened on start of application.
  • Open URLs from external application into - current active group/default-group
  • When moving URLs from one group to another - Move/Copy (defaults to Move)

Group tabs by:

  • Location (All tabs originitating from the same website are grouped)
  • Similarity of content; use some kind of correlation measure - I'm sure that there are plenty out there to choose from. Though this would work better with some kind of continuous (map) rather than discrete (tab) display. In the tab paradigm, the number of tab groups would be decided, and the content grouped optimally between them. If the grouping turned out to be intuitive, this would be nice. If an intuitive measure was hard to define, this would be really rubbish. - BenS
  • User manual choose
  • <Need more ideas>
    Note: that there are things that override this, such as the Open as Tab Group feature in the Bookmarks

Identify groups by:

  • Number
  • Color
    This pref simply tells us how to mark each tab that's part of a group. For example.
    if Color is chosen, then each group of tabs will have a different color. The colors must be unique and bright (maybe allow them to be themed?).
    If Number is chosen, then each tab group recieves a special ID (the first one gets "1", the second "2", etc..).


  • Only one active group at a time.
    • This feature will reduce the clutter of having many tabs open by collapsing a group of tabs into one when you focus another group.
      When you select a collapsed group of tabs, the group expands by showing all the tabs in that group (and the previous groups collapses), and the tab that was previously focused will retain its focus.

When Tab Grouping is enabled, two new items are added to the Bookmarks menus:

  • Open as Tab Group
  • Bookmark Tab Group (similar to the Bookmark tabs in one folder)

Note: Any new tab will be opened after the last tab of the currently focused group.

Things to consider adding:

  • Allow custom tab groups, so even that you have a few pages from the same website open, you can have them in different groups.

Users' Comments

Nested Grouping

Each tab group should be able to hold two kinds of objects
  • A Tab
  • A Tab group

(The tab groups can be considered akin to folders in a file system and Tabs as file objects).

Each tab group should essentially remember, among other things, the last object of focus - which can be either a tab or tab group. The last object of focus should be focussed when the tab group if focussed.

  • One of the main concerns of the tab groups in general is the excessive use of memory. This should be avoided at any cost to prevent dampening user experience. One way is by having to fetch URLs in a group only when they are focussed. So the hierarchical tab group acts like kind of (horizontal) bookmark folder with extended functionality.(Sort of like thumb nail views of objects of a folder in a file browser)
    • Users with lots of memory and bandwidth or with limited number of URLs opened should be able to disable this option, so that all pages in all groups are fetched and loaded in memory.
    • We can have user preferences to enable background pre-fetching. The depth of pre-fetching could be user configurable defaulting to depth of 1 (consisting only of tabs under a group). A depth level of 2 would additionally include the tabs in the tab groups at depth 1. A depth of 3 would additionally include the tabs in the tab groups at depth 2. So on.. and so forth..

Typical use case scenario

  • On Installing the extension a default group is created and all previously opened URLs if any are moved into that group.
  • The address input bar now has a companion drop down list located adjacent to it containing the list of tab groups. The selected group in the drop down list reflects the currently focussed group. Changing the group changes the selected item in the drop down list and vice versa. Any URL that is typed into the address bar will be opened into the group selected in the drop down list.
    • The binding between the drop down list and group focussing should be user customisable allowing the user to disable either of the two way connection.
  • The drop down list may be by default hidden to conserve ui space and be represented by a user clickable icon which then expands into the full view of the drop down list and contracts back once focus is lost.
  • Tabs should be draggable from one group to another.
    • Whether the Tab is moved or copied into the target group should be user customisable defaulting to Move.
  • By default, Tabs in multiple groups, representing the same URL, should be pointers to the same rendered page, if it is technically feasible. And user should be notified when he opens a duplicate URL by echoing a non-obstructive message in some part of the UI like 'This URL is already open in <group>. Do you want to switch to it? (yes/no)'
    • This behaviour should be user configurable with user pref:

When a duplicate URL that is opened in another group is opened - Focus on the existing tab (default)/open a duplicate.

    • This might turn out to be feature to enable to user to switch swiftly from one group to another. Wherein, the user types the URL that is already opened in a group (that he may or may not remember) and he is taken to the existing group.

--Mohanr 23:16, 28 July 2007 (PDT)

Grouping of tabs in order to create some hierarchy of currently visited web sites would be nice. Right now, I have opened 15 tabs and I must search linearly for a certain tab, which reduces efficiency of my work. And this is how I would love to use it:
  • Ideally, there would be a root group if the user doesn't specify anything. If the user chooses to open a new link, he should be presented with the option to open the link in a new tab in a new group. It should be possible to change the name of the group afterwards.
  • There is exactly one group that is currently active. Other groups that are available should be presented by a special tab.
  • To change the group context, the user clicks on the special group tab. This means, the previous group becomes inactive and the tabs of this group collapse to the special group tab. The group tab of the now active group expands to the tabs of the web sites it represents.
If I had knowledge and/or time, I would implement that as an extension, but I hope this short description helps to gain some ideas of how the user (at least me) would like to expirience grouped tabbed browsing. Lukrez 01:41, 17 Mar 2006 (PST)
If different tab coloring is used, it should definitely be themed and/or customizable. The bright colors you've proposed would look terrible on a black-and-white theme like BlackJapan, for example. Also, with tab groups, i think it should be possible to use two bars: one for tab groups, and another for tabs within currently selected group. This could be used as an alternative for multi-window browsing, too (some users, i.e. me use separate windows to group tabs). However, i'm not sure if it should be on by default, as it could confuse some users. and possibly add clutter.--Nublet 08:34, 24 August 2006 (PDT)
  • And here...
      • I want the option to disable tabbed browsing entirely.
      • I want the option to disable target="_blank" tag entries
      • I want the back button to be enabled for new windows (when *I* choose to open them) from a context menu window open and the new window should retain the history state of the "parent" window.
      • I want the browser to NEVER resuse existing windows to open shortcuts - this is EXTREMELY annoying.
      • I want to have COMPLETE control over my browsing experience, no matter what some web publishing lacky thought would be a good idea.
If different tab coloring is used, it should definitely be themed and/or customizable. The bright colors you've proposed would look terrible on a black-and-white theme like BlackJapan, for example. Also, with tab groups, i think it should be possible to use two bars: one for tab groups, and another for tabs within currently selected group. This could be used as an alternative for multi-window browsing, too (some users, i.e. me use separate windows to group tabs). However, i'm not sure if it should be on by default, as it could confuse some users. and possibly add clutter.--Nublet 08:34, 24 August 2006 (PDT)

I would have no groups by default and allow tabs to be dragged onto each other to create a stack effect. This could then be navigated via a dropdown arrow on the right (or left) of the tab itself. The TabStack/TabGroup could then be renamed and saved as bookmark list Bookmark lists could be hydrated as TabStack/TabGroup from the bookmarks menu or through some other means.

For me the important thing is the level of control.

Algorythms could be introduced to allow Firefox to second guess what groups I might choose to create but in truth I think I would want groups according to research topic and I doubt we could ever get FF to read my mind like that. RoryBecker 02:23, 13 October 2006 (PDT)

For me, the most useful feature would be if tabs were grouped in a tree-like fashion, e.g. by a small vertical offset for "children tabs". So if I open a new tab B from a link in tab A, B should be opened directly right of A (instead of rightmost, it's much more intuitive and should be done by default even without tab grouping) and some pixels lower so I can see that it's A's child. Or have tab A include B visually. Tabs opened from bookmarks/addressbar/search are placed rightmost at root level but can be dragged into another branch.--Bugmenot 15:09, 25 October 2006 (PDT)

Yep, it would be really great to have tab grouping which could be similar to the feature in excel when grouping columns or rows, you can have several levels of grouping just as you would see fit. for example you could create one level which would be for example OS: and under that additional groups such as Linux, windows, solaris and then again another subgroup in accordance to requirement, networking, administrating, registry hacks etc.

each day ive got at least 15 different tabs covering different topics and tend to keep them open for quick refference and review, grouping could make my work much easier. in addition to tab grouping, tab grouping history with urls could be saved just as history sidebar where you could go back in time and retrieve the "view" that you had back then, that would make retrieval from history much simpler and more straight forward from the tab grouping topic perspective. to the likes of others, i would "create the extension" if i knew hot to program :/ ofcourse this could be implimented on all firefox versions :D -RutePoint-

This is the BIG THING that is still missing the ONE feature that would help a lot of professionals and regular users...

I also have a few ideas that i posted in the URL:

Tab Grouper

--Jonh tomas 15:39, 17 November 2006 (PST)

See: bug 505214 ("Implement Workspaces").

Darkangel 20:46, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Close Tabs to Right

Firefox currently has "Close other tabs" on the tab context menu (which closes all tabs except the current one). I think "Close tabs to right", and possibly also "Close tabs to left" would be a very useful extension of this concept.

Imagine you follow a link in a search results page to open another index page in a second tab. Now you open several links from this second index. Next you want to prune this tree by removing all the "leaf" pages but keeping both of the indexes.

In conjunction with drag-and-drop tab sorting, this would give even more power - you could sort all the tabs you want to keep to the left and then use "Close tabs to right" to get rid of the rest.

--JohnHind 05:26, 30 Apr 2005 (PDT)

Colored groups, drag&drop regrouping, group-based new tab location etc.

I recently used Tabbrowser Extensions. It is known for its good and rich feature-set as well as its instability and plenty of bugs.

I really like the following functions:

  • Tab groups are easily identifiable by their colors.
  • One can regroup/rearrange tabs by using drag & drop.
  • Links opened from one tab automatically form a group. Think of a search and its result pages: I google something, and open in the background the first 4-5 possibly good hits.
  • The placing of a new tab opened from a link is configurable: rightmost in group, just right from parent tab, left etc.
  • Closing a group of tabs at a time

In my daily work I often search something on the web, but several times a day have to go away for hours. I can only continue my work with the help of tabgroups: usually I deal with 30-40 tabs grouped in 6-10 groups. I really find the tab grouping useful, this is the reason why I use Firefox.

--ZVadasz 15:11, 25 May 2005 (PDT)

I whole heartedly agree about the Tabbrower Extension. Again, it is pretty much THE reason I use Firefox (on the Mac anyway [I'd likely use Camino otherwise] -- not sure what I would use on PC...maybe Opera, maybe Firefox). The only problem with Tabbrowser Extension is that it makes Firefox slow. DouglasAWh 10:38, 20 July 2006 (PDT)

Tab blocker

I recently encountered "Tab ads" or at least thats what I like to call it. Its basically a pop up in a tab. I have only seen it once and may have been the settings on FX. However tab ads seems like the next logical step for spammers. Tab blocker (similar to a pop up blocker) may be a feature that should be looked into. Is it just me or has anyone else encountered this. --Trick 16:10, 1 November 2006 (PST)

It is just a new window that is being forced into a tab. --Pmsyyz 17:15, 1 November 2006 (PST)

Missing Tab2Window Functionality

Its possible to choose to open a link in a new Tab or Window. When you choose to open a url within a new window and decide to have it rather in a tab its just a matter of Drag&Drop the one tab into the window you want to have the tab.

But when you choose to open in a new tab and then you want this tab in a new window you need to open a new window first and then Drag&Drop.

I think there is missing the possibility to right-click a Tab and choose "Open [this Tab] in new Window".

MovGP0 02:36, 8 June 2007 (PDT)

I made this possible using a bookmarklet, see bookmarklet: open in new window Hope this helps.

Goulvench 12:41, 11 June 2007 (PDT)