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Web Browser Guide: Exploring the Tab

Web Browser Guide: Exploring the Tab

The greatest thing to happen to web browsing was the invention of the Tab. It makes the whole process of exploring the web easier, more fun, and definitely more convenient. As part of this ongoing series on the Web Browser Guide for Bloggers, let’s play with tabs.

For those unfamiliar with browser tabs, made them the fashion in web browsing and now Internet Explorer 7 also offers them. They are windows within a window, in the most simple of descriptions.

Instead of opening multiple windows, thus multiple versions of your browser, to access more than one web page at a time, you open each web page in a tab, a window within the browser accessible via a tab at the top or bottom of your browser screen.

Here is how I use tabs as part of my blog post research and writing.

  • From my feed reader, I scroll down the list of the new posts.
  • See something of interest, middle button click on the link to open the link in a new tab.
  • Keep going down the feed list.
  • Find another, middle click and keep reading the feed list.
  • When I’m done with my feed reader, I can now move through each tabbed web page, reading, saving, writing about, taking notes, or closing the tab as I move through the list.

Instead of chasing clicks, backwards and forwards and hitting the History panel to find out where I’ve been, I have the pages waiting for me to read at my leisure.

As discussed in Web Browser Guide: Working Offline With Your Browser, I could at this point disconnect from the Internet and go through the tabs offline. Web pages I want to save for reference later, I can bookmark or save the page for later viewing.

My research and blogging time has dropped by over 50% just by using the tab feature instead of constantly opening new windows, waiting for the program and the web page to load, and then having my computer slow down with all those open windows. The tabbed web pages load in the background, so I can keep working on my feed list then read through those opened tabs when it’s convenient to me.

As a blogger with multiple blogs, I keep tabs open for each blog. Before the latest version of WordPress, I had two tabs open for each blog, one for the Administration Panels and one for the blog itself. I could quickly add new posts and check comments in one tab, and use the other to make sure everything was working on the blog visually, and reply to comments in recent posts as it’s tedious to reply to comments from the Comments Panel currently.

With the new and frustrating step backwards in removing the built-in post preview in WordPress, I now have three tabs open for my most popular and active blogs. One for the Administration Panel, one for the post preview, and another for the view of my blog. Hopefully, they will fix that poor decision and allow us to turn on or off the Write Post panel post preview by choice, not force.

So how about a few Tab tips and tricks?

Tab Browsing Tips and Techniques

Opening and Closing a New Tab: To open a new tab from the keyboard, use CTRL+T or double click on any empty space on the tab bar. To close a tab, click CTRL+W. In Firefox, Middle Mouse Click on a tab closes it, too. Accidentally close a tab? Right Click and choose Undo Close Tab or CTRL+Shift+T.

Opening New Links in Tabs: To open a link in a new tab, you can Right Click and choose Open in New Tab, or click the center button of your mouse. Firefox will open the tab in the background automatically depending upon how you have the tab options set in Tools > Options > Tabs.

In Internet Explorer, to open a link in a new background tab, use CTRL+Left Mouse Button. To open a link in new foreground tab, use CTRL+Shift+Left Mouse Button or CTRL+Shift+Middle Mouse Button.

Moving Through the Tabs: Moving from tab to tab, in Firefox, CTRL+Page Down moves to the next tab down and CTRL+Page Up moves to the tab to the left, or “up”. In Internet Explorer, CTRL+TAB moves down and CTRL+Shift+TAB moves up the tab queue. The most recent versions of Firefox also use these. In Firefox, use CTRL+1-9 (choose a number) and jump to that specific tab in order from the beginning of your tab queue.

Bookmarking Tabs: Firefox Bookmark all tabsYou can bookmark tabs just like any web page. In Firefox, from Bookmark > Bookmark All Tabs or CTRL+Shift+D, you can save all open tab web pages in a bookmark folder. In Internet Explorer 7, you can save a “group” of Tabs into a Tab Group. You can also open all bookmarked tabs or Favorite tabs in a group.

Set a Group of Tabs to Open on Startup: You can configure Internet Explorer 7 to open a Tab Group on startup. Firefox allows you to use the Tools > Options > Preferences to set the Current Pages to be your “home pages”, loading these tabs each time you click the HOME button or start Firefox. In Firefox, you can also just add the URLs to a list in the Home Page form with a pile (|) between each URL such as:||

Tab Right Click Menu: Right Click on the Tab of a web page and check out your options. Depending upon the browser, you can close the tab, open a new tab, copy the tab URL, reload or refresh the tab or reload all the tabs, undo a closed tab, and much more.

Set Tab Options to Open Tabs in the Background: For years, if you click a link, it would load in the page you are viewing. With tabbed browsing, you can open any link in a new tab, but often, your view is switched to the new loading tab, the foreground, and not the one you were reading and want to keep reading. It is now in the background of your view. To change tabs to automatically open in the background with Firefox, select Tools > Options > Tabs and select New pages should open in a new tab and uncheck “When I open a link in a new tab, switch to it immediately” or, depending upon your Firefox version, uncheck “Select new tabs opened from links”.

In Internet Explorer, to open a link in a new background tab, use CTRL+Left Mouse Button. I haven’t found an option to set all new tabs to open in the background by default, have you?

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Change Positions With Tabs: I keep all my blog tabs together. You can move your tabs by clicking and dragging them to a new position any time you want, creating an arrangement that works for you. I also find it easier to work between two web pages, such as my Write Post panel and an article I’m quoting or using links from when they are side by side and not lost in the tab list.

Change Tabs Between Browser Windows: If you are working with two or more Firefox browser windows, you can move one tab from one window to another window by clicking and dragging the tab to the new window. This makes it easy to group tabs related to projects and to help you save all the tabs in a bookmarked folder.

Non-Active Links Can Become Active: If you find a non-active link, a link to a site that isn’t in a hyperlink HTML anchor or “not live”, you can select the link and drag it to a tab to open that link in a tab in Firefox. If you want to open the link in its own tab, drag the text link between two tabs and let go, It will open the link in a new tab. You can see a video on how this works from Digital Inspiration.

Firefox Tab Preview Extension exampleInternet Explorer Quick Tab View: Internet Explorer 7 introduced the Quick Tab view which allows viewing of all the open tabs in the browser. From the keyboard, use Ctrl+Q to open a web page with thumbnail views of the open tabs. You can open and close the tabs from within this page as well as switch to the tab. Firefox has the Showcase Extension and Viamatic foXpose which offer similar features. Opera features thumbnail tab preview pages automatically when the mouse hovers over a tab, and Firefox has the Tab Preview Extension.

Customizing Tab Options: Check out the tab options for your browser to find out how to customize your tabs down to the finite web page handling detail. You can set tabs to load in the foreground, background, links to open in a new tab or new window, and more.

Open multiple tabs in Firefox

How Many Tabs is Too Many: I abuse the tab feature in Firefox on a daily basis. I’ve found that with 1 gig of RAM, crossing 125 open tabs begins to slow Firefox down, as well as the computer. Depending upon what else is open and running on my computer, about 200 tabs, I start getting Javascript errors and things slow to a crawl. I haven’t opened that many tabs in Internet Explorer, but so far, it takes less to slow things down on that browser.

This is just a sample. What tips and tricks do you use to get the most out of your tabs, especially for blogging?

Web Browser Guide Article Series

Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on and is the author of Blogging Tips, What Blogger’s Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

View Comments (8)
  • This is driving me nuts. Both on my home and work computers (both are XP Pro SP2 and IE7) when I have a browser window open already and go to open a new browser window it opens momentarily, then disappears behind all my other windows. In other words, it opens in the background.

    I have to click it twice from the tab at the bottom of the screen to bring it to the foreground, or minimize all my other windows. Sometimes I start typing thinking that the page has opened, only to look up and realize I’m typing in another browser session.




  • I don’t use IE anymore, but I vaguely remember somewhere that you can make your settings response “per program” on how they are to appear in the various “layers” of your desktop. However, this is not the place to ask as I’m an expert in using browsers with blogs, not browsers or Windows in general.

    You can check the Properties of your IE icon to make sure it is set to open in a “normal” or “maximized” window.

    Windows XP: Want to open a new window in IE maximized and Screen Not Full Size When Going To Next Screen look like they are the solutions you are looking for.

  • In order to set all new tabs to open in the background or foreground by default

    Tools>Internet options>General-Tabs-Settings

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