New tab switching added for Firefox 3.1

As announced before, tab switching is getting a dramatic update for Firefox 3.1 in both visual and behavior.

Press Ctrl + Tab (or Shift + Ctrl + Tab) and you are presented with tab thumbnails and titles with the most recently visited ones first so you can more easily determine which tab you want to go, have the one you most probably want to go closer, and as a result get to it faster. Hold Ctrl pressed and keep pressing Tab to see the thumbnails smoothly scroll to the left while the status bar displays the tab web address.

If you need or just prefer the old behavior, pressing Ctrl + Page Up and Ctrl + Page Down will fit the bill.

While eye candy doesn’t hurt, I am not sure black is the right background color for all platforms. More tab thumbnails may also help find the one I’m looking for faster, as in earlier prototypes.

As said, there’s also a new behavior for Ctrl + Tab. Instead of just moving left to the next opened tab, now it switches between the current and the last viewed tab and I have to say I’m already loving it. I usually have to check several other pages while posting and to ease the tab switching I moved the reference tab next to the post edit tab to have it a couple of keystrokes away. There’s no need now: I just took the long way to the reference tab once and then it’s already at reach.

The new Ctrl + Tab behavior and look was originally planned for Firefox 3 but was put on hold due to time constraints.

Ctrl-Tab, a Firefox extension developed by Dão Gotwald, that has served as a prototype for this change is available from Mozilla Add-ons. The extension provides even more features including an all tabs preview with search tabs capabilities that replaces the tab list menus when pressing the List all tabs button in the tab bar edge, and an option to switch between tabs in all windows. At least the all tabs preview option is also being considered for inclusion in Firefox 3.1.

77 Comments

  1. asdf August 1, 2008 11:59 am 

    AARGH! What a complete waste of time and effort. This graphical tab switching is just more bloat on a ship that needs to be rehauled. How about working on a real issue, like reducing the massive amount of RAM this pig of an app consumes. And even more importantly, FIX ALL THE DAMN BUGS!!! For example: Firefox refuses to save some pages, when it that going to get fixed?

    Plus, going beyond FF but still staying on the bloated pig theme, the FF addons website needs to die. 1st, it’s piss slow, the java code makes it 10X to 20X slower than when I disable java. I would use it without java, but then some critical things don’t work. 2nd, I have to login to download and extension? Are you f-ing high? Thanks big brother for your nazi-esque clenched-buttocks freakoid authoritarian control, but you dirtbags are just getting a bunch of email addresses that go to disposable accounts. Which bring me to my final point: FF has just become a tool for profiting clandestinely off its users, like forcing certs through that evil dicksucking parasite verisign. With every new install it takes me 2 hours just to hunt down and turn off all the embedded phone-home tricks. Like microsoft, releasing that POS vista, mozilla looks like it’s head down the same hole.

  2. Exec August 2, 2008 7:43 am 

    @asdf
    I’ll try to answer some of your incoherent ramblings.

    “How about working on a real issue, like reducing the massive amount of RAM this pig of an app consumes.”

    How about you don’t install every single add-on and plug-in that asks you to?

    “For example: Firefox refuses to save some pages, when it that going to get fixed?”

    How the hell are they supposed to know about it if you don’t file a bug report? Oh, and WORKSFORME, as far as I can see.

    “1st, it’s piss slow, the java code makes it 10X to 20X slower than when I disable java. I would use it without java, but then some critical things don’t work.”

    Works perfectly fine without JavaScript here (Java and JavaScript are two completely different things). As I said before “don’t install every single add-on and plug-in that asks you to”

    “2nd, I have to login to download and extension?”

    Only if they are experimental.

    “Are you f-ing high?”

    Are you?

  3. Banalità » Ubiquity August 27, 2008 6:17 am 

    [...] è la progressiva duplicazione di elementi dell’interfaccia dentro e fuori dal browser. Firefox 3.1 avrà una nuova interfaccia per il tab switching, che probabilmente verrà adattata per renderla conforme a quelle già presenti nei vari sistemi [...]

  4. Scott September 17, 2008 7:24 am 

    To disable this feature, or change the focus from most recent to tab-order, browse on over to about:config then simply type “ctrlTab” in the filtering text field. Two options should pop right up:

    browser.ctrlTab.mostRecentlyUsed
    browser.ctrlTab.smoothScroll

    Set the first to false to use the tab-order. Set the second to false to disable the feature completely. Restart!

    Voila!!

    Cheers

  5. raajcena October 1, 2008 2:07 am 

    Well thanks for this article but Can someone help me to find out the solution of this problem as I wanna add Tab Effect in my mozzila for 3. higher verson

    If you have solution please let me know

  6. J October 22, 2008 6:40 pm 

    Thanks, but no thanks. I disabled this immediately. about:config browser.ctrlTab.mostRecentlyUsed = false!

    Sorry, but I am used to the work flow of being able to move through my tabs. In order to go through all the tabs now, I either have to mouse-click, or click tab a lot more than I used to… This actually decreased the browsers functionality for me, rather than increasing it. Frustrating!

    I can see where some people may like this. I think it should be an available option. But, make it something changeable under preferences – rather than about:config.

  7. Color Management and Firefox 3.1 at freakified November 1, 2008 11:32 pm 

    [...] than Google Chrome (which is an accomplishment, to be sure).  Other notable changes include a new tab-switching interface, and built-in support for OGG video and audio [...]

  8. Dade November 8, 2008 4:49 pm 

    yay now i can disable this stupid task switching thing i hate it, i open tabs in a specific order so i dont need to go back and forth and what not to the last tab and i dont need thumbnails i know what i want ;) that being said

    its a NEAT feature, some preferance options would be nice to disable or whatnot they shouldnt have everyone going into about:config

  9. Firefox 3.1 preview (a blog post on Plutor.org) December 16, 2008 10:07 am 

    [...] the first 3.1 beta in October, but it was unstable, and some of the features were jarring. The tab switching behavior was a special challenge to my productivity, and the new JavaScript engine (TraceMonkey) [...]

  10. Andy December 27, 2008 8:37 pm 

    I don’t like the feature, it conflicts with the style formatting of Google Docs which works with Control 1-6. I’d much rather style my Google Doc headings with the key stokes than pressing what number of the tab I want to switch to in Firefox.

    How can I turn it off?

    • BSide January 5, 2009 8:36 pm 

      Did you try 3.0b2? It seems to work fine there, as long as you have focus inside the doc when you hit the ctrl-key. (Also the release notes for b2 say something about undoing some tab shortcut behaviors…)

      If that’s broken with the release FF3.1, you can bet it’ll get fixed from one side or the other — too important a shortcut to get broken.

  11. matt December 30, 2008 4:30 pm 

    okay, im running firefox 3.1 shiretoko, which used to be called minefeild, but i press ctr+tab and get the same old behavior, do i have to enable this in about:config or something?

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