Tabbed web browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Internet Explorer have specific orders in which tabs are opened and closed. Developers have to configure orders for opening blank pages and links as well as activation rules when users close tabs. The default behavior of most browsers opens blank tabs on the rightmost side of the tabbar, links to the right of the active tab and activate the last used tab after closing a tab.
Some users may prefer a different order of things. Someone with one hundred or more open tabs would not necessarily want a blank tab opened at the rightmost location of the tabbar as it is easy to lose the orientation this way.
The Google Chrome extension Tab Position Customizer empowers the user to select the tab order. In particular it is possible to select the tab opening position, the new tab behavior and the behavior after closing a tab in the Google browser.
Here are the available options:
- Tab Opening Position: Always first, Always last, Right of the current tab, Left of the current tab, Chrome default
- Activate Tab After Tab Closing: First tab, Last tab, Right tab, Left tab, In activated order, Chrome default
- New Tab: Activated (foreground), Not activated (background), Chrome default
As you can see, there are lots of options to configure the tab opening and closing behavior in Google Chrome.
Chrome users need to open the extension’s options via the Wrench > Tools > Extensions > Options menu first to make the changes to the tab behavior in Chrome. The changes made on the configuration screen are active immediately which is handy for testing purposes.
The Tab Position Customizer extension empowers Chrome users to pick the tab opening and closing behavior that they want. You may have noticed that the extension has another option under Miscellaneous which configures Chrome to open pop-up windows always as new tabs in the same browser window.
Chrome users can download the extension from the official Google Chrome Web Store.
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As with Google Chrome, your tabs will only move to the topmost area of the window when maximized. The feature has yet to be delivered to the Firefox 4 nightly builds, but you can download experimental versions from developer Bill Gianopoulos. Windows and Linux versions are available at the moment. Gianopoulos states "These builds are essentially the same as the corresponding Official Trunk Nightly Builds" but notes that his builds include "not yet landed fixes for some MathML issues, and User Interface changes planned for Firefox 4, as well as bugs that I am currently working on or find particularly annoying."
If you haven't played with Chrome OS yet, it has one fundamental niggle that harkens back to the DOS days of yore: windows don't exist, and it has no way of displaying multiple tabs on screen at the same time. This means if you want to refer to a document while you compose an email, you need to repetitively switch between tabs -- and I think we can all agree that tab-switching is one of the most important omissions from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Chrome OS does support one way of displaying multiple Web pages at the same time, however: panels. If you've looked through our Chromium OS galleries (or taken a quick look at the screenshot above) you'll notice some always-on-top panels across the bottom of the screen. Panels are handy things -- capable of being resized, or quickly popped down out of view. By default, the download manager, popped-out Gmail chat windows and the media player display in panels -- but, for some reason, there's no way to load custom websites in panels.
Which brings us onto our very first Chrome OS-specific extension: Panelize. With Panelize you can put anything into a panel, such as Gmail, Reader, or even Download Squad. In one fell swoop, having to switch between tabs is a thing of the past!
No worries, however, with the Spot extension for Google Chrome. Just click the magnifying glass icon and start typing something you remember about the page and Spot quickly returns a list of matches. Just click a result to be taken to the tab. The results list is also keyboard-navigable for those who eschew excess mousing.
Spot's developer also says he's working on integrating Chrome history and bookmarks in future versions.
Download Spot for Google Chrome
For Linux users who have been using the dev build of Google Chrome, you can now head over to the “about:labs” page and enjoy some Labs feature.
The “about:labs” page has been around for the Linux build for quite some time, but unlike the Windows version, nothing was available. In the latest update of Google Chrome, the “about:labs” now comes with several features like Tabbed Settings, Remoting, Page Info Bubble, Disable outdated plug-ins, XSS Auditor and Background WebApps.
Here’s a short breakdown of what each feature does:
Instead of a new window, the Chrome Settings is now opened in a new tab.
Allows Remoting Client support.
Page Info Bubble
The page info is now shown as an info bubble instead of a dialog window.
Disable outdated plug-ins
As its name implies, disable outdated plugins to reduce security vulnerability
Enables WebKit’s XSS Auditor (cross-site scripting protection). This feature aims to protect you from certain attacks of malicious web sites. It improves your security, but it might not be compatible with all web sites.
Run installed web apps in the background at system startup and even after all windows are closed.
Activating about:labs features
1. Ensure that you are using a dev build of Google Chrome (you can get the deb file here)
2. Open a new tab and type “about:labs” (without the quotes) in the URL bar.
3. Choose the feature you want and click the “Enable” link.
4. Restart Google Chrome
What does QuickShift do? It allows you to move your current tab to a different Chrome using a hotkey combination: Ctrl+Alt+Right/Left arrow . Often when I'm writing I need to pop a source article over to my secondary monitor, and this is an incredibly elegant way to do it.
QuickShift also adds Windows 7-style tab switching. In the same way that you can tap Win+[a number] to launch or switch to an application on your taskbar, QuickShift allows you to change tabs in Chrome by pressing Ctrl+Alt+[1-9]. Like most Google Chrome extensions which interact with your tab, you'll need to reload any active tabs before you can utilize QuickShift.
Now if only someone would pay me a nickel for every millisecond I save by not tearing tabs off and dragging them to my "reference" monitor...
We all know that Firefox 4 comes with plenty of interesting and useful features. However, there is one feature that really annoy me out of hell – the tab preview feature (only available for Windows 7).
Here’s what happen: Let’s assume that your Firefox browser is opened with plenty of tabs, but it is not currently your active application (you might be doing some work in Ms. Office). When you hover your mouse above the Firefox icon in the taskbar, it will show a preview of all the opened tabs. This is good and fine as I can now pick the tab that I want to go to. The bad part is, I don’t want to manually select the tab everytime. When I click on the Firefox icon, I would expect it to switch to the browser immediately and load my last active tab, not to make me select the tab.
It gets points for effort, but at this stage, TabSense definitely feels half-baked. Clicking the name of a tab doesn't actually activate it, but it detaches it from its current group (window). Dragging tabs from group to group does work, though, and it causes the tab to move between windows, which is pretty cool. The extension doesn't pop up a whole bunch of Chrome windows. Instead, you see only one window, and all of the others are hidden. That's nice, too.
There's a quick-search box in the top-right corner, which allows you to search tabs by name, and it does work (it highlights the tab that you're looking for). There are no thumbnails. Also, the groups are temporary and were not saved when I quit Chrome.
The main problem at the moment is with activating tabs; I was unable to actually show the tab that I tried to access. As I said, clicking it didn't work. But still, this alpha-grade extension shows some promise, even if it lacks most of Tab Candy's "wow" factor.
Like so many new Chrome features, side tabs are hidden behind a command line flag: --enable-vertical-tabs. As always, if you need help figuring out how to add a flag, have a look at our how-to post!
App tabs and pinned tabs appear at the top of the list and you can still drag and drop to re-order tabs and right-click them to pin, close, duplicate, or reload. As Martin points out over at Ghacks, there's some graphical weirdness when you first activate the switch. Give Chrome a slap by opening a new tab with ctrl+t or simply minimize and restore the window.
TabCandy is a bit like a full-featured virtual desktop manager -- think of Web pages as applications and browser windows as desktops. Install TabCandy and a button is added to your Firefox toolbar. Click it, and you'll see a view like the one above. You can group tabs, label them, and move tabs between groups with a simple drag-and-drop.
The layout is totally customizable -- resize group boxes however you want and reposition them, and the thumbnails automatically resize and re-order themselves. You can also add a new tab to a group by clicking the icon in the bottom-left corner. Click a thumbnail, and the page zooms into the foreground.
Want to see TabCandy in action? Check out my brief screencast after the break!
The extension is still unfinished, but TabCandy has come a long way since I first checked it out -- and it's definitely fun to play with now even if it's not quite ready for prime time. You can find the TabCandy.XPI on Mozilla's server (it's near the bottom of the list).
Who knows -- you could be looking at the tab management interface for Firefox 4!
(worth noting: Mozilla's Aza Raskin has gotten in touch with Sebastian and reports that the .XPI is somewhat out of date. Still, it's the easiest way to play with TabCandy if you're so inclined.)
Looking for nice, minimal tab manager extension for Google Chrome? Have a look at -- what else -- Tab Manager.
It's perfect for the number of tabs I usually have open (fifteen or less) but it may not be quite so well-suited to those of you who have dozens of tabs open simultaneously. Tab Manager only displays favicons and there are no tooltips to display a tab's title -- which make things a bit confusing when you've got multiple pages open on the same website.
For those of us who tend to keep tabs to a relative minimum, however, Tab Manager works nicely. Your Chrome windows are divided by a vertical rule, and you can drag tabs to re-order them in the current window -- or even drag and drop them between different windows.
Tab Manager will even work with your Incognito windows, provided you've checked off the box on your chrome:extensions page to allow it. They're outlined in red on the pop-up. Crossover isn't allowed, however -- you can't drag between Icognito windows and regular windows because Chrome doesn't allow us to do that.