Control-Tab: A New Feature for Firefox

As many of you know, Dão Gottwald has been working for awhile on his Ctrl-Tab add-on. Ctrl-Tab has two parts: a filmstrip that allows the user to quickly jump to recently used tabs, and a tab preview mode. These features have been widely used, and lately we at Mozilla have been working to give them a home as a Firefox feature.

Dão and I have been working on the design of a feature based on Ctrl-Tab, while Dão has been building patches. We’re happy to announce the filmstrip of recently-viewed tabs landed today and will show up in tomorrow’s nightlies as a new Firefox feature: Control-Tab.

Since this change will affect current Firefox users’ workflow, I want to describe briefly how Control-Tab works, why it is being added, and what changes you’ll see.

How does Control-Tab work?

Pressing Control-Tab in Firefox will bring up a filmstrip view of your recently visited tabs. Pressing Tab repeatedly with Control held down will cycle through thumbnails of the tabs you’ve visited in order, with each press of Tab going one thumbnail back in time.

Why Is Control-Tab being added?

  • Fast Switching between Tabs. Control-Tab will show thumbnails of the last tabs you have visited in the order you have visited them. This means that if you’re on Site A, pressing Control-Tab will take you to Site B that you last visited. Pressing Control-Tab again will take you back to A, and again to B, etc. This is useful if you need to quickly flip between two tabs that aren’t next to each other and makes it easier to carry out tasks which require multiple tabs.
  • Visual Navigation. Control-Tab shows thumbnails of your previously used tabs, so finding them by sight is fast. This is especially helpful if you’ve opened up so many tabs that some are obscured.

What’s going to change?

Pressing Control-Tab will no longer open the next tab (Control-PageDown still will). We know that expert users are used to this shortcut, and changing it will mean an annoying adjustment.  However, we’re creating Control-Tab because we feel the benefits it offers are greater than the drawback of having to adjust your workflow.

Control-Tab is a first step towards increased visual navigation and content organization features, and we would love to hear what you think. Usage and feedback of Control-Tab will help guide future designs and features, so please leave a comment here or in the forums to tell us your opinion.

141 Comments

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  1. Blair McBride says:

    Nice – have been waiting for this.

    Will there be an option to switch between tabs based on their order in the tab-strip, rather than visit order? Applications seem to switch between sub-windows/tabs using one of these two methods – and it adds a lot of cognitive friction to switch between the two methods based on what application is currently being used.

  2. air1 says:

    I’m one of the “expert” users used to this shortcut. I’ve played with the extension before but I prefer to choose my tab by looking at a full rendering of the page rather than a small thumbnail.

    So, how do we disable it? Is there an about:config pref for that?

  3. john says:

    I wish I could get that interface, but with it moving in the order I already have my tabs sorted. I generally open a group of tabs from one site and like using ctrl+tab to move from one to the next. With this it moves in almost the opposite order.

  4. Been looking forward to this for a while, too.

    The open-in-background case is interesting. When adding tabs without giving them focus, where should they be inserted into the MRU list? My feeling is that they should probably be added as if they were given focus, but it probably warrants experimentation.

  5. Dao says:

    Yeah, the “open tab in background” case is tricky. The tabs are currently added to the end of the list, so I’ve been using Shift+Ctrl+Tab (which, contrary to the old behavior, works even if the parent tab wasn’t the last one).

    air1:
    There’s currently no about:config pref, but I’m pretty sure there will be one eventually.

    By the way, on Mac I think there’s also {some modifier key}+{arrow key} for the old behavior.

  6. Dao says:

    See http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Keyboard+shortcuts for all alternative shortcuts for the old behavior (there are three on Mac!).

  7. monk.e.boy says:

    I love the fact that you acknowledge that you’re going to piss off the keyboarders. But I think this is exactly what firefox needs, so just let them moan. Also, why add more options to the about:config? Soon there will be an option to turn my bathroom light off. So much code used by so few people…. there are about 30 of use using firefox here at work and no one has ever touched the about:config…. I guess the vocal ‘experts’ tweek it a lot… but of the 30 of us working here I have fewest addons (approx 10) everyone else uses 15-20+ all day everyday.

    thanks for making firefox and continuing to make it nicer.

    monk.e.boy

  8. nogg3r5 says:

    If you realise this is going to annoy people, then dont do it :)

    At the least, add options to about:config to allow us to make changes.

  9. Jeria says:

    I tried the extension for a while and prefer the current default implementation.

    Could this extension stay as an extension?

  10. Karlosak says:

    Hopefully this could be easily turned off, otherwise I would have to stick with FF3.0 branch. Personally I hate black UI elements or those that abruptly darken (think password input in linux).
    I don’t get how you could release a minor x.1 revision with such a dramatic UI change. This really should stay as an addon IMHO.
    I’m used to setting Tab Mix Plus to open tabs next to current one with changed opening order. This ensures that my browsing session which has often complex “tree” structure is easily navigated in a linear fashion with standard Ctrl+Tab behavior (Ctrl+Tab moves to the right neighbor tab).
    Although switching to the most recently used tab has its merits, this would be a deal breaker for me, if weren’t user switchable. Hopefully TMP will cope with this nicely and there won’t be any need for whining ;-)

    P.S.: Who said that FF 3.1 won’t break any addons and that developers could rest quiet? I could already see wrinkles on the TMP developer’s face…

  11. Aleksej says:

    1. IMO the thumbnails should be larger.

    2. I am using Tree Style Tab, and would like to see which tab in the tree the selected thumbnail corresponds to. It gets confusing with some trees after they are unused for some time. Also in part caused by #1.

  12. N says:

    I can only hope this can be disabled. You acknowledge that it will annoy people… then you make it impossible to be turned off. What kind of decision braindead is that? Just because “most” (says who?) people like this feature it does not mean all of us like it. Make it possible to turn this thing off so we don’t need yet another extension which disables it. I mean, how difficult it is to make about:config setting for this? Can’t be too hard.

    monk.e.boy, I hope you are not serious. You can’t force all people to one mold. How would you like it if I were a high-ranking Firefox developer and I decided that from now on every single Firefox user must use theme/addon X whether they like it or not? And you could not even protest it?

  13. SlugO says:

    I generally have liked the Ctrl+Tab extension but the fact that it cycles through tabs in the last visited order has turned it into nothing more than a distraction to my normal work flow.

    It’s nice that you acknowledge that you’re making atleast 80% of Firefox keyboard shortcut users mad but what are you going to do about it? Just tell them “tough luck!”?

    This feature seriously needs an option to switch to the normal tab cycle order. Or atleast about:config entry. There are dozens of less useful entries there anyway.

    If Mozilla provides no way of switching to the old cycle order then they’re doing exactly what Microsoft does most of the time: forcing users to do things Their Way™ instead of the way that the users actually want.

  14. Armen Z.G. says:

    You are my tab hero!!
    I knew you were going to fix this just for me!
    Thanks!

  15. Exec says:

    You can still use ctrl+page up and ctrl+page down as it says in the article.

    Convert to Linux and you get a white one instead ;)
    http://phoenix.nox.googlepages.com/ctrltab.png

  16. jboriss says:

    Blair McBride, john, SlugO:

    I agree that being able to switch Control-Tab to physical tab order, rather than last used, would be beneficial to users who work better this way. The first iteration of Control-Tab probably won’t have the ability to switch, but there’s already a bug in place to hopefully make this available later.

    air1, Jeria, Karlosak, N, SlugO:

    There’s no way to disable Control-Tab yet, but there will be one very soon – likely as an about:config pref.

    Mike:

    That open-in-background tabs should be added to the MRU list is my first inclination too, since “opening” a tab seems akin to giving it focus. Perhaps some quick user studies could shed more light on if this action would fit users’ workflow.

    monk.e.boy:

    Can I assume you filed https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=445459 ?

    But seriously now, pissing people off happens with any change. It’s not that people’s concerns are petty – they’re the opposite. We’re making changes to a product people know, love, and (in some cases) spend most of their life on. Of course people will be upset. And while changes do need to happen which will make people upset, we’re not callous to them. We’re users ourselves, after all. Every change to Firefox undergoes a process of feedback and testing from the community so that we’re as sure as we can be that the benefits will outweigh the drawbacks. In user experience, it’s always a balance between keeping user’s happy and making them potentially more happy, and a path that needs to be trodden carefully with proof. I’d contrast our process with a redesign like Fark’s last redesign, where it was essentially dropped on user’s heads with a passing “you’ll get over it.” No offense if you’re listening, Jeff.

    nogg3r5:

    If you can think of any change that won’t annoy people, I’ll give my piano, one of my legs, and my wife.

    Aleksej:

    Since Tree Style tab is an add-on rather than a feature, any change relating it to the Control-Tab features would have to be from within Tree Style tab or another add-on. I’d try contacting the author of the add-on.

    Armen Z.G.:

    Actually, Armen, it was just for you. Please don’t tell any of the other users.

    Exec:

    Why do you have to be such a racist? ;)

  17. Sylvain says:

    I agree with Aleksej for larger thumbnails on a first impression.

    What about a visual feedback on the tab which matches the document being previewed in the filmstrip panel?
    I think that could help identify recently used tabs faster (in the “Visual Navigation” scenario above). I’m thinking of the situation when you remember that a document is “somewhere on the left” in your tab list. Seeing both the tab location and thumbnail can be helpful.

  18. jboriss says:

    Sylvain:

    I definitely agree that some visual language could better link the tabs with the tab previews. It’s likely you’ll be seeing a more shared visual language between them in the future. :)

  19. bp says:

    Yes, larger thumbnails are needed. Higher quality ones too, it currently resembles poor quality JPEG compression from the 90s.

  20. -=Ben=- says:

    I just created a style to allow you to customize the background of the Ctrl-Tab extension!!
    Found here is the link: http://userstyles.org/styles/8843

    Allows you to Customize the text and background image of Ctrl-Tab Firefox Extension

    Features:
    + Background image will be a faded white Firefox logo with shadowing (Fully Customizable)
    + Supports a huge list of Fonts (discussed below)
    + Image supplied in default code is hard-coded – allowing you to view the background, even when offline!
    + Background image is static and is centered on the popup.
    = Optional – Text color of the update details will be larger (must uncomment)
    = Optional – Bold text for easier readability (must un-comment)

    ________
    -=Ben=-
    http://userstyles.org/users/7858

  21. Ruach says:

    Ctrl+PgUp or Ctrl+PgDN requires the fn key on many laptops (Ctrl+fn+downarrow for PgDn). Please, please, please make sure people can keep what has been the default keyboard behavior since at least November 9, 2004!

  22. I really want to like this, but it breaks my expectations so badly. I’m just very used to dealing with tabs in the order they’re displayed in the tab bar, and this unfortunately makes that much harder for me. I know I can still use Ctrl+PgUp/PgDn, but Ctrl+Tab is a nice one-handed shortcut with my left hand, which matters a lot if I have my right hand on the mouse.
    :-(

  23. SirCrumpet says:

    Not mentioned so far in the comments (to my surprise) is the extremely poor visual quality of the favicons displayed with the page thumbnail. While a good idea, the tiny dimensions of favicons does not help when they are being almost doubled in size and turned into a blurry mess.

  24. David Naylor says:

    I agree 100% with Ted’s points above:

    – I want to like this
    – I’m very used to switching through tabs in the visible order
    – Don’t want to have to move my right hand to the keyboard

    Perhaps the new behaviour works well for most people and in most cases (I’d love to hear an explanation of how) but at work I often do the following, which requires the old behaviour:

    1. Open lots of tabs in the background.
    2. Flick through them in the order I opened them using Ctrl+Tab
    3. Right hand on mouse to interact with each page

    If I’m not mistaken though, the new behaviour would work if the newly opened tabs are considered “recently used”.

  25. ST says:

    Nice to see that all errors are repeated again and again. Now as Firefox accumulates cruft faster and faster it is time to look out for alternatives.

    My issues with this feature. First how do you suppose an average user discovers this? Most likely it is only found by people who already use Ctrl+Tab and are accustomed to the current behavior.

    Second why do you use preview thumbnails? At least for me tab-switching and rendering the new tab is instantly. For what is a preview needed? I know some other tools that does this and it is annoying as hell. Just switch to the damn tab.

    So for me to be acceptable an option to change the order and an option to disable preview must be added.

  26. Ferdinand says:

    Can’t you put this new behavior behind a new shortcut like CTRL+SPACE? I like it and like that it only shows recent tabs. What I would like to see is:
    – search(that kinda works like the awesomebar/launchy)
    – more tabs shown(maybe in a tabwheel)
    – when mouse is on the thumbnails:
    select them and when you click it activate that tab
    make the mousewheel scroll through the thumbnails
    highlight the tab that is currently selected

  27. Exec says:

    “For what is a preview needed? I know some other tools that does this and it is annoying as hell. Just switch to the damn tab.”
    Because the order isn’t the same as in the tab row. Which means that you might switch to tab far away from your current position, also when you switch to the next tab the previous one is placed on top of the “stack”.
    Also, this way you can use the escape button to cancel tab switching.

  28. Remy says:

    Have any usability tests been done on this UI element? I’m not sure if this will speed up a user’s workflow. Seems a little gimmicky to me. And I doubt a thumbnail of a page will help users find the correct page.
    Wouldn’t actual cycling through tabs with Ctrl+PageUp/PageDown work better?

  29. kwanbis says:

    I rather have this an option. Both features, specially the “Fast Switching”, i dislike.

  30. ted says:

    What are they thinking? Definitely need an about:config option to turn this off.

    If a proposed ‘feature’ doesn’t fall under the category of standards, stability, security or speed then leave it to an extension.

    Your idea of an improvement is my idea of a step backwards and visa-versa.

  31. Dao says:

    “First how do you suppose an average user discovers this?”

    By seeing others using it. That’s actually a crucial part of this: Control-Tab has big potential of being discovered by and useful to average users, while those who are more experienced and used to the old behavior can flip a hidden pref (bug 445476).

    “What about a visual feedback on the tab which matches the document being previewed in the filmstrip panel?”

    Bug 445779, but I’m not sure this will work well.

    “Yes, larger thumbnails are needed.”

    bug 445458

    “If I’m not mistaken though, the new behaviour would work if the newly opened tabs are considered “recently used”.”

    bug 446065

    “What I would like to see is:
    – search(that kinda works like the awesomebar/launchy)
    – more tabs shown(maybe in a tabwheel)”

    bug 436304

  32. Daniel says:

    In my opinion this is not a necessary feature and goes against the idea of a small, lightweight browser.

  33. Charlesdb says:

    I’m sorry if I appear thick, but apart from using the control button, what’s the fundamental difference between this and the “thumbstrips” add on.

  34. Pyrolupus says:

    I like the option–as part of Tools=>Options=>Tabs, not about:config!–to cycle through tabs in either visible or most recently used order. (Note that that how it is currently in Opera, with three options: Cycle in recently used order, Cycle in tab bar order, and Cycle without showing list.)

    Most other applications that I use don’t give me the option at all: they simply go in most recently used order (just like Alt+Tab). It would be quite nice for Firefox to follow the same paradigm.

  35. Mark says:

    This is the Alt+Tab equivalent, I want it very much.

  36. Matt says:

    This is a nice feature, and should certainly be included in Firefox, however, Ctrl-Tab is not the best implementation to use… Has anyone at Mozilla looked at Firefox Showcase? It’s MUCH, MUCH better… If this Ctrl-Tab is included in the next Firefox, I certainly hope there is a way to disable it, as I very much dislike the Ctrl-Tab extension. Firefox Showcase has much better useability. It is incredibly feature rich, and user friendly…

    Thanks,

  37. Tom says:

    I don’t much care for thumbnails, but I *hate* current standard Firefox behavior (tab order for Ctrl+Tab). I’ve been using LastTab for years to get “most recent” behavior for Ctrl+Tab. So I’m personally very happy with that part of the change.

  38. Ryan says:

    Why not make this “improved” UI–which was doing quite nicely as an addon, thank you very much–use the less-standard shortcut keys (like Ctrl-PgUp/PgDn), and leave the behavior of Ctrl-Tab (the almost-universal “switch tabs/documents” shortcut since time immemorial in many other applications, not just Firefox) as it is? Otherwise people will be installing a soon-to-be-developed-I’m-sure “Old-Ctrl-Tab” extension just to untweak this. Who thought this would be a good idea, anyway?

  39. Arno says:

    Totally useless in my opinion; should be an option given by an extension, or should be desactivated.

  40. I dislike the MRU sorting method but I really like the new visual design in the tab switcher.

    Is it possible to combine the design of the new tab switching interface with the old order – sorted by placement (left to right) in Firefox?

    // Lars

  41. jboriss: Yes! Thank you! I think that changing Ctrl+Tab to activate tabs in most-recently-used order is a huge usability and productivity benefit. The ability to quickly and easily switch back and forth between two tabs with Ctrl+Tab is very useful.

    As Tom commented above, I’ve been using the LastTab extension (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/112) to get this behavior in recent versions of FireFox, and I’ve been very happy with it.

  42. left handed person says:

    you know i just wanted to let you ppl (ff creators) know that ‘ctrl + tab’ are the worst possible buttons you vould choose for left handed ppl.

  43. I always loved to work on Firefox. It’s features always helps to me to work faster and as recent news Firefox made a new world record of downloads It’s mind blowing.

    web design

    http://photographyworld.wordpress.com

  44. Daniwl Walker says:

    I have a question. If you want to have an extension like this made available to all users by default, why not just add the extension to those shipped with firefox by default? Then everyone would have the feature anyway. Is there any technical or practical advantage to integrating a feature that already works as an extension?

  45. marcel says:

    not working for me on
    2.6.25.5-1.1-default SMP x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
    Ctrl-Tab just switches tabs as like before!

  46. klin says:

    sorry, I hate this feature. Not only is my workflow disturbed, but you can achieve this easily by moving tabs to where you want them.

  47. Matt Wilcox says:

    If it weren’t for the fact that this behaviour replaces the normal Ctrl+Tab I’d have no feelings on it at all. But, considering it DOES replace the behaviour I want, I do have feelings. Bad ones.

    I do not like “smart ordering” in any applications that use it. Never have, never will. Please include a preference to switch the tab-order sequencing back to the old style physical order (Ctrl+Tab to move forward Ctrl+Shift+Tab to move backward). I know the order I want – the computer does not. Nor do I think ‘page up’ ‘page down’ is a viable alternative.

  48. Ben Darlow says:

    It would be easy to dismiss this feature by picking at the use of superficial effects like glossy reflections, but instead I’d like to just ask: who does this benefit? The use of a keyboard shortcut to switch between tabs is one particular feature that expert users need, but providing visual previews of your open tabs is a completely different one, arguably more suited to newer users (or those unfamiliar with the web); rolling them into a single feature like this actually undermines both, since most expert users won’t want or need it, and inexperienced users won’t be familiar enough with keyboard shortcuts to even activate it. Also, by only previewing ‘recently viewed’ tabs, the feature is seriously gimped; what is the purpose of previews other than to give visual cues as to which tab the user wants to switch to? If I activate it, but don’t see the tab I’m looking for, what then?

    I don’t want to knock the hard work that has obviously gone into this feature, but like a fair few of Firefox’s recent ‘innovations’, it seems misguided.

  49. Fabien Meghazi says:

    Great ! I won’t use this feature. Will I be able to use Ctrl-Tab for old behaviour and Ctrl-PageUp/Down for the new one ?

  50. Ethan says:

    What was the rationale for rolling this extension into Firefox? Has smart ordering been a hotly requested feature?

  51. Steve says:

    An interesting idea, but not really a particularly creative one. I can’t imagine that the value added is much compared to the wow-factor and added resource usage.

    Digression: Please consider adding underlines to you hyperlinks. Telling them apart from the rest of the text is difficult.

  52. Opera says:

    Just like Opera, yet another feature stolen! :)

  53. philramble says:

    Prefer the eye-candy less conventional icon-based switcher, although this is cool! :)

  54. AlexR says:

    This looks like yet another solution looking for a problem.
    Rather than wasting time on a feature of dubious value how about doing something useful and adding the features of Tab Mix Plus into the fabric of firefox.

  55. After downloading and playing with Mr. Gottwald’s Ctrl-Tab extension for a little while, I’m a bit concerned about the usability implications of only showing 3 tabs on the screen at once while a Ctrl+Tab operation is in progress.

    Please consider showing more tabs available to select while a Ctrl+Tab is in progress (i.e. while Ctrl+Tab has been pressed, and Ctrl is still being held down). The existing LastTab extension (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/112) does an excellent job of this.

    Another reference implementation that may be useful for this are the Ctrl+Tab interfaces of the developer IDEs Eclipse and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008. (Depending on the Eclipse version you have, it may be necessary to remap the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab to the activate next/previous tab function.)

    I’ve disabled the Ctrl-Tab extension and switched back to using the LastTab extension for the time being, as I find it easier to work with.

  56. Lauri says:

    The preview images are a nice feature but as Ferdinand said there should be more than three. Maybe even let the user set the number?

    Maybe the user should be able to select the preview size from a couple of options in Tools->Options->Tabs not just about:config. And disable the feature as well.

    Ctrl-tab should cycle the tabs as before and
    the new behaviour could be bound to ctrl-space as Ferdinand also suggested. That way both methods are usable all the time instead on just the other.

  57. Mike says:

    This sounds like a clever tool, but no way this should be built in by default – I would rather have Foxpose instead.

  58. Royster says:

    Seems like it’s not working on Linux? Could someone verify this?

  59. Christian Sonne says:

    I would like to see the keys used for this feature configurable, but not for the same reason as most (if not all) others in this thread…

    If you are running KDE, one of the two largest desktop environments in linux, and thus a fairly large user-group, Ctrl-Tab is already being used to change between desktops.

    It would be nice to be able to configure firefox to use, say, Super-Tab instead (or indeed, whatever is practical for the user)

  60. gtnconcept says:

    jboriss:
    I’ll trust your judgement on this one…
    … because you seem to a Tim Minchin fan!

    If You Think Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out
    (Take My Wife!)

  61. MaXiMu$ says:

    Awesome guys!!!!!!!!!!

  62. Chris says:

    I’m against this change. Mostly because of my usage.

    I open 8-10 tabs in the background and let them load.

    Read the first page, then go to the next one.. i keep my left hand on ctrl tab, my right hand on the mouse. This way neither hand has to move.

    In the new system, i need to take my right hand off the mouse to press page up/down.

    I can use a mouse gesture, but i normally just use the scroll wheel on the mouse and don’t move it at all.

  63. Kira says:

    Hate the new style and will never use most recently used. Yes…you can always use the alternative keys.

    Ctrl+pageup/down have never been used and are a far stretch…some people have their hand on the mouse and not the right side of the keyboard while surfing, scrolling, changing to other programs, etc.

    You can always disable the option in about:config
    browser.ctrlTab.mostRecentlyUsed;false … and again, I will have to do that every time I install for testing.

    Please keep the order as it is for all known browsers. This will just annoy A LOT of people using the ctrl+tab and the lesser known ctrl+pageup/down.

    I doubt any newcommers will know the latter even exists as they are already accustomed to other browsers with tabs.

  64. Vaughan says:

    These changes definitely should not be enabled by default. It’s impossible to cycle through tabs using ctrl-tab as would be expected, and the tiny thumbnails that popup are useless when compared to actually switching tabs. Ctrl-pagedown, as at least one other person said, is not an option because many people keep one hand on the mouse and the other on the keyboard while browsing.

    These features would be better left as an extension. I would hate to have to disable a feature every time I install Firefox, especially if I have to use about:config to do it.

  65. Dave says:

    “Why Is Control-Tab being added?”
    * Fast Switching between Tabs.
    Seriously, this goes against every other browser. I currently have 38 tabs open and I can get to any one within seconds with Ctrl-Tab the way it is. If it changes to MRU, you have no idea which one you used when. It would make more sense to reorder the tabs themselves into MRU order whenever you click on one.

    * Visual Navigation.
    Errr. Hang on a sec. When I press Ctrl-Tab in FF3 I can “visually” see the whole tab instantly. Not just some thumbnail. I work on a few websites with lots of tabs of datasheets; the thumbnails will look exactly the same!

    This may have been a nice extension that some people install, but before FF3.1 lands I *really* hope they do some usability testing.

  66. David Naylor says:

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one opposed to this change.

    Now, the proponents of this “feature” will say that there will always be moaners, but I just beg you to do some real testing with real people before you release this in 3.1.

    “Visual Navigation. Control-Tab shows thumbnails of your previously used tabs, so finding them by sight is fast.”

    You would have thought so, but no – it isn’t! The thumbnails just make me stare in confusion. I end up thinking bleh and just use the mouse.

  67. David Naylor says:

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one opposed to this change.

    Now, the proponents of this “feature” will say that there will always be moaners, but I just beg you to do some real testing with real people before you release this in 3.1.

    “Visual Navigation. Control-Tab shows thumbnails of your previously used tabs, so finding them by sight is fast.”

    You would have thought so, but no – it isn’t! The thumbnails just make me stare in confusion. I end up thinking bleh and just use the mouse.

  68. taka8aru says:

    I think visual effect is beautiful, thank you for your good job.
    I also think it is not many enough that number of thumbnail is fixed to three.
    If I have more than five tabs opened, I easily be lost.

  69. A Square says:

    Control tab needs to show more than 3 tabs. Also there needs to be a way to navigate in the same order that tabs show up in the tab bar. Currently it is just frustrating and confusing.

  70. Peter says:

    It’s going to annoy me much. I hope it wont’t be implemented.

  71. Peter Lairo says:

    I’ll add my vote AGAINST this abominable “feature”. It’s a classic case of something that sounds cool and looks cool when you demonstrate it to someone who’s looking over your shoulder, but it is horrid when you actually need to USE it.

    All the reasons have already been stated above, so I’ll just summarize:

    1. Hard to remember MRU order
    2. No visual synchronization between actual tabs and tab preview
    3. Have to release mouse and use both hand for CTRL+PgUp / CTRL+PgDn

    Please get this out of the default code and make this an extension.

  72. martinus says:

    This feature sucks. I want the old style back. Tab switching is one thing that the Chrome does right and firefox wrong.

  73. jmn says:

    Please don’t include this feature in the Firefox release. On a 19″ running 1280×1024 the size of the thumbnails are far too small to be useful. It’s also lagging on my machine. I can’t fathom how this feature is even considered for release as most other UI design decisions so far has been sound.

  74. Charlie says:

    GAH, this is annoying.

    I agree completely with Peter Lairo.

    We used to have 100% LIFE SIZE tab switching. Now we have itty bitty unreadable out-of-order blurry text renditions.

  75. Since you have the ability to disable it (about:config ->browser.ctrlTab.mostRecentlyUsed->false close browser reopen it) I am 100% cool with it! Just never take away the disabling. It would screw up my work flow. Also for the previous comment about “only experts use this and they have more then 10 add ons”. I’d hardly call myself a firefox expert (though am a developer) and I have 6 add-ons: foxmarks, webdeveloper, adblock plus, firebug, hide menubar, and oldbar.

    Again, thank you for adding the feature to disable this.

    –Ray

  76. When I let go of CTRL it does not close the filmstrip or switch to the selected tab. I have to click on the thumbnail. Is this the expected behavior?

    Other than that, it’s pretty nifty!

  77. ches says:

    I echo Peter Lairo. Thank god for about:config so I can switch off this abysmal ‘new’ feature.

  78. Manu says:

    I am testing Shiretoko version, and I kinda like the new effect, plus the synchronized load of the site both in the browser and the Ctrl+Tab thumbnail. Nevertheless, the quality of the thumbnail is very poor, I hope it gets improved. Also I realize that there’s a little non-fluid switching movement between previews of tabs, and it’d be politically correct to add this as an option to Firefox, so the user can choose to use yo use this system or the classic one.

  79. Manu says:

    I forgot: another workaround would be a dynamically resized tabs bar, i.e: if I have, let’s say, 32 tabs opened, make Firefox show sixteen in a bar and another sixteen in a extended bar, right below the normal one.

    There shoulda have improvements to the idea, but I think it’d be another cool improvement.

  80. James says:

    I don’t care what you do with the ctrl-tab as long as you don’t break my LastTab.

  81. Allen Halsey says:

    I’ve been using LastTab for years to fix Firefox’s ctrl-TAB behavior to be consistent with my OS’s Alt-TAB behavior. I’m glad Firefox will finally have MRU Ctrl-T behavior built-in.

    I don’t need the fancy preview stuff, but don’t mind it as long as I can turn it off if I find that it introduces noticeable delay.

    Just make sure you’ve got the basic functionalities provided by LastTab, such as left clicking on the front-most tab will toggle to the most recent tab, just as the Windows task bar buttons do.

  82. Bob Nathan says:

    All I want is to be able to open new tabs with my right hand while my left holds a cigarette.

    I know this extension or whatever it’s called is available– just hold down the clicker and drag a link toward the tab bar where it magically opens without having to put down my cigarette and pluck that infernal control button with my left hand.

    Why Firefox is gaga about this goofy flip book extension or whatever it’s called and not giving a million dollars to whomever invented the extension or whatever it’s called that doesn’t make me have to put down my cigarette or my cocktail to press the control button with my left hand but rather sip or puff thoughtfully as I open tab after tab with just my right hand while listening to Itunes.

    Does anyone know the name of this extension or whatever it’s called. I want to add it to Firefox on my new Powerbook.

  83. Bob Nathan says:

    QuickDrag 1.0.5: That’s what I was looking for!! The best Firefox add-on for Mac EVER!

    Whew!

  84. shelly says:

    see how the small little new tab king for firefox extension has changed the new tab navigation experience. works for me.
    –shelly

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  86. Geir Smith says:

    This is a terrible idea. Hooray for breaking old things that work well so you can cram in misfeatures borrowed from IE and Vis7a. Do Firefox users a favor and LEAVE.

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    Is there any way for me to change this back to the way it was? I *hate* this system, and I very much prefer the way it worked before. I know I can use ctrl – pgdwn, but that’s not nearly as simple.

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Trackbacks for this post

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