Chrome: If Chrome's built-in new tab page looks a little plain to you, or if you like the look of Microsoft's Metro UI, MySites is a Chrome extension that changes the new tab page into a start page decorated with a web search bar and colorful tiles that you can click to go straight to your most commonly accessed sites and favorites. More »
What about all us Windows, Mac, and Linux users? Well, now we can get in on the action, too, even though the Chrome Web Store loudly proclaims ** THIS APP REQUIRES A CHROME NOTEBOOK **!
When Google made the decision to introduce an in-tab bookmark manager for Chrome, it only made sense that other personal pages -- like your settings -- would move to tabs as well. A tabbed options page for Chrome began taking shape in July 2010, when we shared a video of the feature working in Chromium. Now, it's become the default in Chrome Canary.
It's just as easy to get around in the tabbed settings page and perhaps a little easier, since the search field allows you to find specific settings instantly -- and we do mean instant. As with Google Instant in the Omnibar, Chrome will load settings which match your input in real time in the righthand pane. The search function will even pull in portions of separate settings pages, which you can see in the screenshot after the break.
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."
Google Chrome extensions can be truly handy, but there's at least one feature power users have been clamoring for since the beginning: the ability to hide an extension's browser action button. Good news, Chrome Geeks: the Canary build now lets you hide extension buttons.
Just right-click the icon you want to disappear and select hide button, and it's gone. If you should happen to get removal remorse, just head to chrome://extensions and you'll find a show button link next to any extension you've previously hidden.
Yes, you could already drag-to-resize the entire browser actions area to hide any buttons which happened to be on the right-hand side -- but now you've got full control over which extensions get space on your toolbar and which don't.
At last, extensions which you can call from the context menu or invoke with a hotkey don't have to chew up valuable toolbar real estate in Google Chrome.
There's only four weeks to go until the next IE9 developer preview, and it looks like Chinese leak site Cnbeta might have got its hands on the new build already.
I'm not quite sure what to make of the screenshots, nor the Google translation. The Developer Previews (Internet Explorer Test Drive) are not meant to have a user interface -- they're just there to show off the Trident rendering engine. That means we're probably looking at the beta version of IE9 in these screenshots. Does that mean the private beta has begun -- or are these simply fakes?
As you can see above, IE9 seems to gained a proper download manager. After the break there's a couple more images -- one of the very Chromeish 'new tab page', and one that hints at restartless add-on management.
Very Chromeish, eh?
'Stay Fast'? Are these really from a beta build...?
One feature I like being able to toggle in Firefox is tab thumbnails -- not the ones on the Windows 7 taskbar, mind you. I'm talking about in-browser thumbnails which get displayed when switching tabs. Chrome OS has that snazzy, Cover Flow-style switching interface, but that's not part of the Chrome browser on other OSes.
There are, of course, options available in the Google Chrome Extensions Gallery for those of you who enjoy a visual reminder when looking for that tab you misplaced -- or if you just want a little eye candy!
This one might be the closest the Firefox's built in interface. Tabs Plus presents tab thumbnails in three columns and provides a search box at the top -- which might come in very handy for those of you who open more tabs by the truckload. Multiple windows are supported, and their contents are separated by a horizontal rule. Incognito windows will display as well, provided you've checked the box to allow access.
You can also merge everything you have open into a single window, bookmark everything, and close everything with a single click.
While Tabs Plus is nice, it's static. If you're really jonesing for that animated Cover Flow action, you've got a couple options. The three mentioned here all work the same way: click the browser actions button and a popup window lets you arrow through your tabs.
I don't usually pick on apps for memory usage, but I might make an exception for Visual Tabs. With a modest 13 tabs open, Visual Tabs wolfed down a supersized 240MB memory. That's actually more than Chrome, my tabs, and all my other extensions were using at the time.
The Light version keeps things simple: it's a more lightweight version of what Visual Tabs does with no extended options -- just six background colors to choose from.
TabsPreview, on the other hand, is loaded with options. You're not limited to a simple horizontal flow for your tabs: choose from a grid view, Vista-esque diagonal layout, carousel, or a simple horizontal display with zoom effect. Tabs Preview can also show your closed tabs, and you can set any background color you want and add a linear or radial gradient effect.
There's also a search option and a grouped display which limits the preview display to tabs from a specific domain. Tabs Preview is a very good visual switching extension, but I would like the option to use a popup instead of its own tab -- and I'm also not so keen on the bouncy effect on the toolbar icons in the bottom left.
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.)
It's entirely possible you didn't even know Google Chrome had a bookmark menu -- a compact drop-down to access your favorite websites which was a nice alternative to the bookmark bar. I've seen plenty of gripes in our comments on Chrome posts from users wishing there was one there... when it's been there for ages, hidden behind the --bookmark-menu flag.
But now that you know about it, don't get too excited. The bookmark menu option has been nixed in a recent Chromium source code update and could very well disappear in the next round of updates to Chrome's official channels. I've got to think that more Chrome users would've utilized the menu if there had ever been, say, an option under the wrench menu or in the options tabs.
The good news is it's working for now on the beta and stable builds, so enable away and enjoy it while you can -- here's how to do it!
A while back, I'd reported that changes were likely on the way, in the form of a single, unified menu. Google pitches minimalism as a central theme in Chrome, so it certainly makes sense to use as few UI elements as possible.
Take the jump to see the unified menu, which has just landed in the Chromium snapshot builds!
In truth, I barely notice the page menu is there. Why, they might as well just figure out some way to roll it in to the wrench menu and be done with it... And that's precisely what might happen.
In the Chromium nightly source code, a command line switch has been added to enable a new iteration of the wrench menu. When turned on (on Linux only right now), the page menu disappears and the additional options are rolled into the wrench menu.
The code revision ends with "Note how long the unified menu is." It's longer, obviously, but not distractingly so -- and I think it's a good trade-off. Visually, you're only looking at a couple pixels difference -- but the subtraction makes perfect sense for Google Chrome's minimal UI.
Hey, if your browser is going to boast the simplicity and intuitiveness of a unified address and search bar, why muck about with two separate application menus?
The new 'tabbed bookmark manager' currently looks like what you see in the screenshot. Rather than spawning a new application window as Google Chrome does, the new version opens alongside your current set of tabs (like the new tab page). Items can be dragged and dropped and you can create new folders and items via the tools menu. You can also sort and search your bookmarks.
The manager can also be accessed by typing chrome://bookmarks in your Omnibar, though I wasn't able to set it as my new tab page -- Chromium simply loaded the default one instead.
While the update is a welcome one for Windows, Mac, and Linux users of Chrome, it is an ideal feature for Google Chrome OS. Spawning additional windows isn't the best UX decision on a browser-based operating system.
Like most new additions to Google Chrome, the new bookmark manager is only currently available in the Chromium buildbot releases. Download a current snapshot build and try it for yourself, or check out a screencast after the break!