Tabbed Browsing

In InternetExplorer 6, you had the option to open a URL in a new window. A new browser window opens and it appears in the TaskBar?.

With InternetExplorer 7+ (it sucks though), MozillaBrowser, OperaBrowser, GoogleChrome and SafariBrowser you have the option of opening a URL in a new browser window, or as a tab in an existing browser window. Each Web page appears as a tab near the top of the browser window. You click in the tab to view that Web page. The result is that all the open pages are maintained in a single browser instance.

My new favorite feature in MozillaBrowser and OperaBrowser is the "Bookmark this group of tabs..." or "Open all folder items" command. Choose one bookmark and all your "Morning Paper" URLs load as tabs in a single window. Makes surfing your regular sites a breeze...

Did you ever visit a WarezSite? or PornSite?? You'll have noticed how many windows open. With TabbedBrowsing you just kill the one and only browser instance and don't have to close your browser windows one by one.

In MozillaBrowser, you can turn off the JavaScript that "Opens unrequested Windows" in the Preferences->Advanced->Scripts & Plugins panel. Say goodbye to the "window opening orgy" once and for all.

Opera even has a shortcut for this. Hit F12, set 'Accept pop-up windows' or 'Refuse pop-up windows' and voila. Need it for a particular site -> 2 seconds to change.

Yes, but the MozillaBrowser approach is even better - it takes 0 seconds to change. The reason is that the behavior is not to block pop-up windows, but unrequested pop-up windows. If the window is created by javascript run by a user event (eg: I clicked on something) then it gets created, for any other reason (eg: this site wants to open a new window whenever I leave their site), then it doesn't. That's the behavior that most users want ALL THE TIME. And available in Opera (7 only, possibly) as well.

Did you ever go to a site that resizes your window with its dozen tabs? And you automatically kill the entire window because you think it's a popup? And you're unable to find any of the pages in the history because the last time you let opera fetch them over your slow modem connection was three weeks ago?

In Mozilla, you can simply not allow javascript to do this: Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Scripts & Plug-Ins > take your pick.

You can do ConcurrentReading of the web much more easily with this, but that is not necessarily a good thing!

It makes refactoring wiki pages a lot easier.

There is a crucial semantic difference between Opera and Mozilla tabs: Z-order. Here's a test: open ten tabs; bring up the leftmost, then the second leftmost, and then the rightmost. Now close the current (rightmost) tab. In Mozilla, you now see the second-rightmost tab; in Opera, you see the second-leftmost again. Opera's tabs behave like windows, in that they have a Z-order (changing to a tab just brings it to the front; when you close it, you see what was previously at the front). Mozilla's don't.

There is another effect, connected to how the browser cycles through tabs; Mozilla just goes from left to right (and back round at the end), whereas Opera uses the Z-order, sending the current tab to the back.

Personally, I find Opera's Z-orderful tabs much easier to use, but I prefer Mozilla's cycling behaviour. I think this is because I tend to have more tabs than I do space in my own Z-order buffer; I know what the top three or so tabs are, so with Opera I get what I expect if I close or minimize one), but not all of them, so I'm surprised when cycling jumps around the open tabs at random. Perhaps we need some kind of decaying Z-order, so tabs right at the back silently assume left-to-right order. Or maybe we should fix Z-order and left-to-right order to be the same, so changing to a tab moves it to the left end of the bar (note - this is a terrible idea). Anyway, either way beats the hell out of having a window per page. -- TomAnderson

MozillaFirefox has an extension TabbrowserExtensions? that allows grouped tabs. I haven't used that feature much, but it appears to allow setting the tab to return to upon a CloseTab action. -- PeteHardie

Some guy wrote an extension called FocusLastSelectedTab? that uses a Z-order when deciding what tab to show when the current tab is closed. Cycling is not affected; ctrl-tab still goes through the list from left to right. The extension is at

TabbedBrowsing allowed me to develop a bad technique/habit. I use it when trying to learn a subject, or looking for recipes (especially on opinionated food, like dough). It's a simple principle, which works like this:

  1. You Google for a general term, and open the first 10-15 links in new tabs.

  2. You read the pages quickly, skipping parts which aren't going well.

  3. You open any interesting link in the pages as you go along, creating a queue of tabs (got enough RAM?)

  4. Once you notice that the rate at which you close the tabs is higher than the one you're opening them, you're probably done.

I HaveThisPattern

I HaveThisPattern as well, very much so. Not just with Google, but with this Wiki and browsing in general as well. Whenever I come across something interesting, I open it in a new tab (Opera even lets you use a background tab). That way, the flow of what I'm reading is not interrupted, but at the same time I make sure that I won't forget that interesting link I saw. -- AalbertTorsius, a TabaholicAnonymous?

This is certainly not a bad habit! It's a very useful technique.

InternetExplorer based MaxthonBrowser has a Group feature that will reload all tabs that are grouped together in a future visit. It is sort of like LiveBookmarks, but better in the sense that the user makes the decision which sites to group together.

Aren't LiveBookmarks more like RssFeeds readers? -- PeteHardie

Yes, they are RSS feed readers. And, of course, which pages you load up together is user-selectable in mozilla too, as you can open a directory of bookmarks in separate tabs (or the sidebar), or start up with different pages on different tabs.

Some Pop-up calendars don't work right in Netscape 8.1 because of tabbed browsing and I could not find a way to turn it off. The closest thing is an XUL pluggin that allegedly disables tabs forever, but I would rather temporarily turn it off rather than outright kill it.

It is difficult to implement an MDI-style interface if tabbed browsing is activated. Small pop-up dialogs cannot be built the standard HTML way. This is another reason why we need a new kind of "GUI browser" that has real widgets and a desktop-like feel.


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