Beautiful tab switching for Firefox 3

Among Firefox 3 pending improvements it a cool tab preview feature that shows actual thumbnails of the currently opened tabs. The feature is currently available as an experimental extension developed by Dão Gottwald, but could make its way to Firefox 3 final code.

First, the List all tabs button in the tab bar is replaced with a button that opens a black window with thumbnails and the active tab highlighted in a slightly bigger size. Tabs can be located by inspection or you can enter a few letters from the tab title you want and thumbnails are quickly filtered out.

Firefox 3 tab switching

Switching tabs with the Ctrl + Tab (Cmd + Tab on Mac) brings a black bar across the whole screen with thumbnails of the closest tabs with the site’s favicon overlayed for easier identification.

As you can notice from the screenshot below, the selected tab is shown slightly to the left (instead of the  obvious center) and may seem odd at first glance. However this position allows to see the most next tabs at a time.

Firefox 3 tab switching

To be honest, I didn’t see the benefit immediately. But after using it for a while I realize it’s really easier and quicker to reach the tab you are looking for when you can see how much apart it is. Filtering may be too much though.

Performance-wise, CPU usage spiked from 2-3% to 45-50% during high speed tab switching (that is, I kept Ctrl + Tab pressed for a while), but immediately went back to previous cool 2-3% usage.

Firefox 3 Beta 1 is expected within the next couple of weeks.

Get Ctrl+Tab from Mozilla Bugzilla.

50 Comments

  1. David November 7, 2007 2:10 pm 

    Hmm… my first thought was if this wouldn’t lead to very high CPU usage… will be interesting to see if it affects tab-switching performance. Are you saying it doesn’t? What’s your computer?

  2. Lim Chee Aun November 7, 2007 2:35 pm 

    Looks cool. But I do hope that the UI in those screenshots is not final.

  3. Ivan Ičin November 7, 2007 2:40 pm 

    This is stupid… Why would I get the tab preview with ctrl+tab when I can get real tab contents pressing the shortcut immediately?

  4. Percy Cabello November 7, 2007 2:51 pm 

    Ivan: “it’s really easier and quicker to reach the tab you are looking for when you can see how much apart it is.”

  5. Percy Cabello November 7, 2007 2:54 pm 

    David, nothing dramatic: Core 2 Duo 2GHz, 2 GB, with Mobile Intel 945GM at 1280×800.

  6. David November 7, 2007 4:18 pm 

    Hmmm… I just tried the extension in Firefox 3… so far I’m *very* sceptical to this, but maybe it’ll grow on me. We’ll see. :)

  7. Ivan Ičin November 7, 2007 8:58 pm 

    Percy, you can see that from the tab bar. If the sites are same, then their preview is also likely same, so I can’t see any value.

    Also, even if I see how far apart tab is, I will press ctrl+tab the same number of times, actually wasting time in finding how far tab is.

  8. Bob November 8, 2007 9:36 am 

    Isn’t this just something that’s already available in IE7? Maybe not to the same extent, but IE7 has the ability to tab switch based on viewed thumbnails.

    In the end, I hope all this bloatware they are adding to Firefox 3 doesn’t kill the app for me. I really hope they continue to have ways of turning off all these unwanted (by me) extensions that are now part of FF3.

  9. Firefox 3 Tab Switcher November 8, 2007 6:51 pm 

    [...] Mozilla Links noticed that work has already begun on Ctrl+Tab replacement system for Firefox, and it might make its way into the final release of Firefox 3. The great thing is that a preview is currently available as an extension which can be installed on any pre-release version of Firefox 3. [...]

  10. Max November 9, 2007 4:02 am 

    I’m currently use Firefox2 on 600 MHz VIA EPIA system. Firefox is _very_ laggy and slow comparing to other browsers. Sometimes it eats all my CPU for about 20-40 seconds and almost hangs… And they continue to add more and more unneeded fancy things, instead of optimizing internal engine and performance.

    Some day I will switch to something else.

  11. Denis Cheremisov November 9, 2007 4:12 am 

    Great idea. When working with macosx+expose and ubuntu with compiz-fusion+scale I realize, that to have preview when switching is a very good thing. But previews looks like jpeg now, can you fix this “feature”?

  12. John November 9, 2007 4:35 am 

    Stupid jerks!
    Instead crappy and useless features you’d better:
    - make libgecko to significantly decrease memory usage for firefox, thunderbird and sunbird running at the same time (now there are 3 identical copies of gecko in memory)
    - fix bug with broken hotkeys in non-english layouts
    - allow using url like ../../../../../ for testing
    - remove “a ping” property for links which violates both privacy and standards

  13. kost BebiX November 9, 2007 7:04 am 

    > […] a MozillaLinks, esta nova funcionalidade consegue por a trabalhar o seu processador a mais de 45 – 50%, mas depois […]

    In English, блядь!

  14. Andrej November 9, 2007 7:13 am 

    I’m not need this. I need a fast and good browser. I hope that, i kann deaktivate this.

  15. qw354 November 9, 2007 8:34 am 

    it is no good, imho. use hotkeys

  16. Alexey November 9, 2007 9:23 am 

    I think it for idiots, where scalable svg, x3d and others w3c standarts?
    Where normal memory use? Now firefox on my windows machine use 104 Mb RAM and its not limit, Usually i restart firefox then it use more than 200 Mb?

  17. ark November 9, 2007 9:24 am 

    Hmm.. Is it possible to switch off this “cool” function?

  18. Yozg November 9, 2007 10:07 am 

    Idiots will be happy. I’d like some usability improvments, but not a ‘glamour’ tab switcher. Isn’t it possible to reduse memory usage? Or add menu item to switch off images, just like in opera? If you want visuals – make simple clear redisign without ‘heave’ improvments and it will be cool.

  19. Denny November 9, 2007 10:58 am 

    Bells and whistles! Hey, developers, you have no more unclosed bugs? Your browser have passed last ACID tests or web standards? Fix russian hotkeys first, for example, this bug has opened for years.

  20. vasdi November 9, 2007 11:41 am 

    Whistles, whistles, but still no russian hotkeys…

  21. Nuss November 9, 2007 3:12 pm 

    Looks kinda sweet. Thinking of it, I don’t understand why it hasn’t been implemented ages ago. After all it’s fundamental for alt+tabbing in any major OS out there!

    And for all you whiners above: MoCo is working on reducing memory usage. Google it if you don’t believe me!

  22. PC Tips and Tricks - Improved tab switching set for Firefox 3 November 10, 2007 9:41 pm 

    [...] Mozilla today reported on an experimental extension developed by Dão Gottwald looks set to make it’s way in to the release of Firefox 3. The tab preview feature shows actual thumbnails of currently opened tabs. With the click of a button a black window opens with thumbnails and the active tab highlighted in a slightly bigger size. Tabs can be located by inspection or you can enter a few letters from the tab title you want and thumbnails are quickly filtered out. [...]

  23. Sajith November 11, 2007 12:52 am 

    Great.. wait till FF3 release..

  24. Kinexy » Blog Archive » Previsualización de pestañas en Firefox 3 November 11, 2007 10:02 am 

    [...] filtración) siguen llegando funcionalidades que tendrá la nueva versión de Firefox, como es la previsualización de pestañas al pulsar Ctrl+Tab, aunque habrá que esperar si esta funcionalidad trae cosas más buenas que malas por el tema de [...]

  25. Tom November 11, 2007 11:53 pm 

    I hope there’ll be a way to disable that. It looks nice, but I kind of like it the way it is now.

  26. Craig C. November 13, 2007 10:28 am 

    Umm, you guys know that OmniWeb has had this feature (and many others..) for years now?? Just sayin..

    I’m interested in checking out v3.

  27. Firefox 3 beta « Rm 45 November 13, 2007 1:16 pm 

    [...] Beautiful tab switching for Firefox 3 : Mozilla Links [...]

  28. mike November 13, 2007 3:44 pm 

    Cool and all but this idea is stolen from Opera basically.

  29. Sundi Taniwan November 14, 2007 5:14 am 

    My favorite browser all the time..
    Nice Improvement. So beautifull

  30. Firefox 3 Tab Switcher | Firefox.hk November 14, 2007 10:17 pm 

    [...] Mozilla Links noticed that work has already begun on Ctrl+Tab replacement system for Firefox, and it might make its way into the final release of Firefox 3. The great thing is that a preview is currently available as an extension which can be installed on any pre-release version of Firefox 3. [...]

  31. Matt November 15, 2007 1:32 pm 

    There is already an existing plug-in for Firefox 2 that does roughly the same thing. I don’t remember the name of it, and since I’m at work and I only have it on my home PC I can’t give you more details about it, but its a plug-in that puts an icon on the lower right corner of the screen along with the FasterFox, AdBlock, and all those other fun icons. And basically it opens all of your tabs in an additional tab with small windows, so you can see the contents of every tab in one window.

    I don’t operate with more then 3 or 4 tabs open at any given time, and usually its less then that, so this is really of no concern to me, but I just wanted to inform that there is something similar already in the wild.

  32. Matt November 15, 2007 1:38 pm 

    Update:

    Five minutes of searching the Firefox Extension page yielded extensions like Tab Catalog and Viamatic foXpose (which is the extension I have) which do the same things.

  33. jorge November 15, 2007 6:37 pm 

    i’ll use that add-on as soon as it’s available.
    However my concerns is the same as others: cpu usage.
    And additionally: since it’s working on FF that means no matter what SO you’re using it will work, isn’t it? i would like it to see on ubuntu.

  34. David Mackey November 15, 2007 10:09 pm 

    Mmm…It does look beautiful.

  35. anon November 15, 2007 10:10 pm 

    The Shiira browser has been doing something quite similar to this for a while. Small tab previews instead of just tab names. And an option to view larger previews that looks a lot like OSX’s Exposé feature.

    Not saying its a bad idea. It just isn’t so new.

    http://shiira.jp/screenshot/en.php

  36. anonymous November 21, 2007 10:41 pm 

    Great, more flair. Who cares? Fix the damned memory hole!

  37. robert April 19, 2008 9:57 pm 

    tabs need to give the functionality of tabmixplus especially mouseover switching. add firefox would be very much improved by thunderbird intergration.

  38. Mathew Hartnell April 24, 2008 11:55 am 

    Mmm…It does look beautiful.

  39. exlibris September 9, 2009 2:39 am 

    I just would like to see two tabs at the same time. Example: Google Mail Tab and Google Calendar.

Comments are closed.