Firefox 3.1 gets tab tearing

The latest Firefox 3.1 development release features the announced option for tab tearing: drag a tab out of its current window, and it is removed and opened on a new one, providing a more intuitive way to organize your web browsing.

Alternatively, you can right-click on a tab and select Open in New Window.

The feature, that mimics Google Chrome’s behavior, had been requested and planned several times in the past.

Tab tearing is the latest in a long list of tabbed browsing improvements that already included a new tab button, a tab preview panel, tab reparenting for true tab moving across windows, tab cloning, and visual tab switching. Some of the changes follow a design shift to make the tab bar visible at all times, which has also got the throbber out of the menu bar, as it is now redundant with each tab’s activity indicator.

Animations for moving, opening and closing tabs was also mentioned for Firefox 3.1 but it’s still unclear if will make it.

As usual with new features, tab tearing has introduced a few new bugs, but, hopefully, they will all be ironed for Firefox 3.1′s next development release, Beta 2, due within the next couple of weeks.


  1. Abel November 17, 2008 3:20 am 

    Noooooo!!! When I drag a tab out of the window all I want is to create a link in my desktop. Who wants two instances of Firefox runing at the same time?

    • Percy Cabello November 17, 2008 9:11 am 

      You can still do that by dragging the site button icon (next to the location bar) instead of the tab.

      • Nox November 17, 2008 5:57 pm 

        How about alt+drag? Isn’t that a de-facto standard for creating links?

        • Rioting_pacifist November 22, 2008 5:20 pm 

          Not under linux, alt+drag will move the window about.

          • Nox November 22, 2008 9:59 pm 

            Oh, right. I always forget about the alt+mouse button shortcuts for some reason -_-

  2. Wikzo November 17, 2008 6:29 am 

    Cool. But I think that Chrome’s way looks a little bit better and more intuitive because you instantly get a full new window to drag around and not a small preview like showed in the video.

  3. orlando_ombzzz November 17, 2008 7:49 am 

    “The feature, that mimics Google Chrome’s behavior”

    not really, IMHO

    the “spirit” of this Chrome feature is that you get a kind-of-application window, so your page actually looks like an *application* window and not a *browser* window. For example, you can use it to give an application-look.

    Firefox keeps the tab and menu bar in the new window, so Firefox don’t share nor achieves Chrome’s goal at this time.

    • Percy Cabello November 17, 2008 9:15 am 

      orlando_ombzzz, they are two different features. This is just about tab tearing.

      What you’re describing is stand alone web apps, which is provided by Prism, currently available as an stand alone app (like AIR) and a Firefox extension ((

  4. Damian November 17, 2008 9:22 am 

    Abel: I’ve been dying for this feature for years, I didn’t even know people made internet shortcuts on their desktop still :/

    Everyone else: There’s loads and loads of spin-off bugs from this, it’s going to get ‘more intuitive’ but I think it won’t be as flashy as Chrome does it haha.

  5. szh November 17, 2008 9:42 am 

    > tab cloning

    Where is tab cloning ? I can not find it anywhere!

    • Percy Cabello November 17, 2008 9:48 am 

      A limited implementation is already available in Firefox 3: press Ctrl key while dragging a tab.

      In Firefox 3.1 you will be able to do this without triggering an automatic reload. Also, you can clone a tab pressing Ctrl and the reload button.

    • Damian November 17, 2008 10:51 am 

      You can ‘tab clone’ as long as your willing to lose back/forward history by middle clicking on the refresh icon.

      • Percy Cabello November 17, 2008 12:00 pm 

        Damiant, you’re right: Ctrl + Refresh doesn’t really clone, as the new tab loses the original’s history. Ctrl + drag seems to be the only way then.

  6. Kinexy » Firefox 3.1 incorporará ‘tab tearing’ November 17, 2008 1:16 pm 

    [...] gente de Mozilla sigue trabajando de cara a la versión final de Firefox 3.1 que incorporará una nueva función llamada tab tearing que nos permite separar alguna de las pestañas que tenemos en una ventana de Firefox para abrirla [...]

  7. MacTech November 17, 2008 2:11 pm 

    I hate to point this out but Safari does this and has been doing it for a while now. Certainly since Safari v3 was released which precedes Chrome by many months.

    • MR Lizard November 17, 2008 2:30 pm 

      You’re right – and it does it with a cool little animation too!

      I agree with Wikzo – users should see a ‘mini’ browser window appear when they drag the tab off the parent window. The video above makes it look like the user has dragged an image off the page.

      I look forward to seeing what this will look like on OS X :-)

    • PsiGuy November 17, 2008 2:54 pm 

      So did Safari beat Opera to this, or did Safari get it from Opera? Because Opera has had it for a LONG time

    • jt January 28, 2009 6:31 pm 

      Who cares? Safari isn’t available for Mac or Linux.

      • Damian January 29, 2009 3:48 am 

        I’m going to take a wild guess here and say your thinking of Chrome. I think you will find that the majority of the Mac browser market is Safari :P

  8. Jonathan Hensley | The Blog » TiVo Pizza, Slydial, FireFox 3.1 Tearing November 17, 2008 3:38 pm 

    [...] Firefox 3.1 gets tab tearingThe latest Firefox 3.1 development release features the announced option for tab tearing: drag a tab out of its current window, and it is removed and opened on a new one, providing a more intuitive way to organize your web browsing. [...]

  9. Dr. Steve November 17, 2008 4:22 pm 

    Who cares who did it first? What is this a race where whoever doesn’t come up with a feature first can’t use it at all? I don’t even USE tabs, but this would be a nice feature if I ever click a tab by accident.

    But seriously, grow up people. Firefox doesn’t always come up with an idea first, and it still have lots of features I’d like to see implemented, but this is what they do do.

    1. Allow Add-Ons
    2. Come out of beta

    And thats good enough for me.

    • Emil Ivanov November 17, 2008 7:33 pm 

      Well I prefer developers to innovate and make the browser better instead to wait for competition and then start implementing forgotten features like Private Browsing.

    • PsiGuy November 18, 2008 4:57 pm 

      I’m glad other browsers get ideas from one another, but i hate that every time Firefox adds a feature, the web blows up about it like it’s brand new.

  10. Eric November 17, 2008 4:44 pm 

    Sweet, this is the feature I’ve been wanting ever since Firefox was released.

  11. JimP November 17, 2008 5:51 pm 

    I use the session saving capability of FF3, but it fails to work with more than one window of tabs. Unless this fixes that problem, it is just plain useless for me, as is the current facility to use multiple windows. Fingers crossed…

  12. dt November 17, 2008 7:22 pm 

    Seems like I’ll be using cookiepie addon for a long time until mozilla team incorporate it in the main branch.

  13. Robert MacEwan November 17, 2008 10:25 pm 

    I just wish they’d allow us to place the damn new tab button somewhere other than next to the tabs. It’s why I went back to using Flock 2.

  14. Sudhakar November 18, 2008 6:00 am 

    Opera has this feature already…is that a big thing ?

  15. Tab tearing feature in Firefox 3.1 Beta November 18, 2008 6:50 am 

    [...] November 18, 20082:50 am Tab tearing feature in Firefox 3.1 Beta Mozilla added a option for tab tearing in Firefox 3.1 beta: “drag a tab out of its current window, and [...]

  16. Firefox 3.1 beta 2, con pestañas drag and drop | Incubaweb November 20, 2008 12:39 pm 

    [...] Mozilla ha añadido características significantes en su versión de firefox 3.1 beta 2, permitiendo que las pestañas cambien de una ventana a otra de firefox y también si solamente tienes una ventana, pues soltar una pestaña fuera de la ventana y se crea otra nueva. [...]

  17. Chris November 21, 2008 12:33 am 

    Something I really like about Google Chrome is that when you close a tab, it also closes the in-page search box. Same with clicking on a link. Is there an extension that adds this to Firefox, and/or is it planned for Firefox anytime?

  18. toby November 27, 2008 9:55 am 

    This is a great feature and will prove really useful. Firefox is getting better all the time.

  19. Pepsi November 29, 2008 5:05 pm 

    I really feel confused about this new feature. It is really annoying when I just want to switch between tabs but if just a little “drag”, a new window pops up, that is not what I want. So I would like to have an option to choose to enable or disable this feature in the Tools->Options->tabs.

  20. eXtreme December 1, 2008 9:44 am 

    I dont need this feature, how can I disable it?

    • Damian December 2, 2008 7:43 am 

      It’s an integrated part of the Firefox code without a toggle built in. Your sort of like asking “I don’t need bookmarks, how do I disable them?”

    • Jon Baker August 19, 2009 10:54 am 

      Disable tearoff tabs plugin:

      This really should be in the preferences to turn it off. Even with the latest build, going from another app to Firefox using my Wacom tablet _always_ tears off the tab. I’ve been a strong supporter of Firefox but this “feature” nearly made me go to another browser. Fortunately this plug-in saved the day.

  21. Dwight Stegall December 10, 2008 10:49 am 

    An ideal browser to me would be one that allows you to open several tabs at once and have all of them visible at the same time. I mean you could resize each tab so that they all would be visible like you can with your Windows Desktop.

    This type of setup would useful when you have content in a tab that is constantly updated by the server and other tabs for surfing and searching etc.

  22. David December 10, 2008 3:05 pm 

    This “feature” is driving me crazy. A disable option would be greatly appreciated. Or at least reduce the sensitivity. It opens new windows when all I wanted to do is select the tab, if my mouse slipped a pixel or two while clicking on it. It’s happened like 10 times in 3 days.

    • Alex March 17, 2009 8:17 pm 

      Yeah I googled to see if I could disable this and it took me to this page. I couldn’t find anything.

  23. Brad December 15, 2008 7:39 pm 

    Please! I need a disable feature before I go MAD!

    • Damian December 16, 2008 12:31 am 

      Easy, stop BETA testing.

      • Brian December 19, 2008 12:50 pm 

        Isn’t the idea of beta testing to get us to test features and refine them. Would you rather have this feature go out live, as is, and drive people away from FF?

        • Damian December 19, 2008 8:57 pm 

          No, that’s why I helped triage this bug:

          And reopened it when the developer working on tab tearing had closed it as fixed. Actually get involved in the testing community if you want to refine features, bugzilla, newsgroups, irc, forums etc.. If your just beta testing to see what’s new then go back to the stable release if a bug is driving you nuts.

          To start off with you could vote for that bug and bug:

          Those please no “me too” comments, they already spam mine and many other e-mails boxes enough :/. If you should think there should be an actual disable option then write a bug :) (though do a search beforehand).

        • sw developer February 19, 2009 6:39 am 

          Very nice idea but absolutely untested by developers and with no option to disable it — I just hope that this is not caused by bad application/architecture design…

  24. Kirk July 3, 2009 11:22 am 

    Aargh! While it’s an old post, this is a “today” issue for me. I found this post after upgrading to FF 3.5 from 3.0.10 and noticing that now “drag to desktop” is “drag to window.” I use D2D all the time (actually D2folder) and always hated the fact that IE required one to find a context menu (sometimes inadvertently disabled by lazy programmers) in order to create a shortcut on the desktop.

    I’ve been scanning the comment stream to try to figure out how to either put this back or find a workaround, and it took this 25-year IT guy a bit too long to effectively “guess” how to do it…that “location” icon next to the address bar (referred to above, it’s helpful to think it’s actually *part* of the location bar) on the left of the address, for those of you who have never thought anything of it, as I was wont to do.

    For what it’s worth, developers (and I’m one, too) it can be helpful when changing subtle features to detect a person’s first use of the changed feature and then overlay the interface with “here’s what’s up, and oh–and here’s a checkbox to turn off these helpful hints.” A company that does this quite well is Cooliris…anytime there’s an update, the first time you launch Cooliris, large, colorful block arrows show you what’s changed. It’s boorish if there are a lot of successive updates, but I’d rather turn them off than struggle to find them. While it might be obtuse to do this in Firefox, the first time I use something that’s silently changed (should ALL of my users read your change logs too?) and I get a little helpful fade-in tip…that would be fantastically nice.

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