Another call to “fix” “Open in Tabs” in Firefox

In: Mozilla

30 Sep 2004

You may or may not have noticed this neat little “Open in Tabs” feature in Mozilla Firefox that lets you open bookmarks in a folder in tabs. Just to be clear, here’s how it looks like:

Screenshot of Mozilla Firefox "Open in tabs" menu option


And here it is again in the context menu when you right-click on a bookmark folder:

Screenshot of Mozilla Firefox "Open in tabs" context menu option


“Open in Tabs” is also featured in Why You Should Switch to Firefox, the official “Why switch” (to Firefox) write-up. Well, this would be all fine and dandy and a plus point to the tab browsing paradigm of Firefox (and Opera, etc.), except for what appears to be a near fatal flaw in my eyes.

Here, try this in a new Firefox window. Open up 4 tabs. Make sure that there’s nothing in these tabs that you want to remember to come back to later, especially the last 2. Now try using “Open in Tabs” on a bookmark folder with just 2 bookmarks. What just happened? Firefox has closed the last 2 tabs and loaded the first 2 tabs with the first 2 bookmarks. Well, actually this is not so bad for the first 2 tabs, because you can use the “Back” button to go back to your page should you want to, but the tabs that were closed are lost.

Destructive action without forewarning? I’d think so. Bug 258244- ‘Open in tabs’ command does not respect close multiple tabs warning, reported by Thomas Rutter (who happens to be the forum admin for SitePoint Forums), asks for this to be fixed by either displaying a warning first or opening the new tabs in addition to the current tabs. I’m not to sure about displaying a warning dialog myself, as Mike Connor feels too, but appending the new tabs to the existing ones seems like a damn fine solution. Sure, you can go to about:config and set the browser.tabs.loadFolderAndReplace preference to false. But even better would be that this was the default preference in the first place. Would have saved me a lot of cursing during those times I accidentally middle-clicked a bookmark folder. And it is easy to make those accidental middle-clicks when you’re not thinking straight or not aiming properly (seriously – aren’t guys notorious for not aiming properly in the toilet?).

Bug 175124 – implement Chimera style opening tabs replace as necessary functionality also suggests another (non-destructive) way of dealing with this problem. There are also several other (at least 10) bug reports on the same issue, mostly marked as WONTFIX, with Mike Connor or some other person saying that this is “by design”.

Personally, I still feel that appending the new tabs is still the best solution, because it is what’s consistent with what you’d expect from middle-clicking – something opens in a new tab when you middle-click. Does anyone feel the same way or have a better solution in mind?

27 Responses to Another call to “fix” “Open in Tabs” in Firefox

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Jafe Mourner

September 30th, 2004 at 11am

Agreed 100%. The default behavior should be switched, with the option in about:config remaining.

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Alex

September 30th, 2004 at 11am

Yep, I also agree with you, this has annoyed me since long time ago. I also think that since one of the main features of firefox is the use of tabs, there should be a separate preferences section in the options for the behavior of tabs.

Alex

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Jeff Walden

September 30th, 2004 at 12pm

Alex:
There will be such a section in Firefox 1.0 — there’s some small reorganization going on in a bug right now that will eliminate Multimedia and introduce Tabbed Browsing (which really makes sense, because Multimedia was underused and most of the Browsing prefs were for Tabbed Browsing anyways).

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Peter Lairo

September 30th, 2004 at 3pm

Appending tabs was the default for a while and i didn’t like it at all. Whenever i open tabs, i want THAT set, and not that set plus the previous set. Whenever i want to keep the previous set, i open a new window and open the new set of tabs there. This keeps things simple for the majority of usage cases.

I use tabs and bookmark folders EXTENSIVELY and have NEVER accidentally middle-clicked a bookmark folder.

In the UNLIKELY event that someone opens fewer tabs than were there, AND had critical info on the tabs that were closed, couldn’t he retrieve then from history?

PS. I initially thought your article was going to be about how the “ope in tabs” is in inconsisten locations in you screenshots (i would have disagreed with that too). ;-)

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Shantanu Oak

September 30th, 2004 at 5pm

>> And it is easy to make those accidental middle-clicks
>> when you’re not thinking straight or not aiming properly.

or are browsing at midnight…
I remember clicking on “Close other tabs” instead of “Close Tab” to loose all the important tabs.
I do remember one night when my co-worker accidentally clicked on “No” to the question “Do you want to save” while closing word.

I really tried to remove the “Close other tabs” option through extentions. But now I save all the important tabs by adding all the tabs to bookmark folder by checking the “Bookmark all the tabs” option. Then I use “Close other tabs”. It’s much faster than closing one tab at a time when there are 20 tabs open.

I have since then, never clicked on “Close other tabs” by mistake. I think the current design for “Open in tabs” is right and logical. We need to get used to it, the way we got used to microsoft products like excel.

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Manuzhai

September 30th, 2004 at 5pm

Somewhat off-topic: what Windows or Firefox theme are you using here? I like the Office 2003-style menus a lot.

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Andy Mason

September 30th, 2004 at 7pm

On the subject of Firefox behavior, I love using tabbed browsing and wonder whether it is possible to set Firefox up in such a way that when I click on a URI in Outlook it will display the web site in a new tab of the current window instead of opening a new window?

I would much rather have one window with 8 tabs than 8 one tab windows.

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selda

September 30th, 2004 at 8pm

I would much rather have one window with 8 tabs than 8 one tab windows

Try Opera :) Tabbed browsing works much better in Opera, IMHO.

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pkmk

October 1st, 2004 at 4am

i support your view!

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Chris Neale

October 1st, 2004 at 5am

Opera doesn’t have Tabbed browsing, it has an MDI interface.

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Mike

October 1st, 2004 at 8am

What about opening them all in a new window? I browse using windows for clusters of related tabs, and opening all tabs in a single new window would work perfectly for me.

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Charles Miller

October 1st, 2004 at 9am

In Safari, if you open a bookmark group in tabs, it blows away all the current tabs in that window, and replaces them with the new set of tabs.

However, if you then realise your mistake and hit the back button, the tab group you opened will vanish, and all your previous tabs will return.

Quite neat, really.

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Thomas Rutter

October 1st, 2004 at 10am

Thanks for the mention :)

A concern is that in its current state, there is a ‘Warn when closing multiple tabs’ option which doesn’t cover this particular scenario and thus gives a false peace of mind. I’m more likely to accidentally close multiple tabs using ‘Open in Tabs’ than when closing Firefox.

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Bernie Zimmermann

October 1st, 2004 at 1pm

Opera doesn’t have Tabbed browsing, it has an MDI interface.

What was that guy smoking?

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Joel Kitching

October 2nd, 2004 at 6am

Somewhat off-topic: what Windows or Firefox theme are you using here? I like the Office 2003-style menus a lot.

I’d also like to know what theme you are using.

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Cheah Chu Yeow

October 2nd, 2004 at 1pm

Peter (Lairo): Well, sure, you can retrieve from history (I almost put that in my blog entry), but most of the time I can’t even remember what were in those tabs. I guess that’s because I have a long history list and a less than perfect memory.

I’m not asking for a big fix, I’m just asking for consistency (by making the browser.tabs.loadFolderAndReplace preference false by default). “Open in Tabs”, to me, carries the implicit meaning that the tabs will be new tabs and will be non-destructive. Especially when you can do the same with a middle-click, I find it very important not to surprise the user with a different behavior. At the very least, middle-clicking a bookmark folder should append tabs.

Charles (Miller): Hmm.. that sounds really neat. That would be a nice way of implementing “Open in Tabs” (so long as the middle-click thing is consistent like I said just now).

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Cheah Chu Yeow

October 2nd, 2004 at 1pm

Manuzhai, Joel (Kitching): It’s not a theme, but done through a change to the userChrome.css. I can’t find the original webpage where I got my CSS rules from, but I’m sure this Office 2003 userChrome.css Skin Release thread will do just as well.

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Peter Lairo

October 4th, 2004 at 6pm

Cheah: “I’m just asking for consistency (by making the browser.tabs.loadFolderAndReplace preference false by default).”

When you open a bookmark, it *replaces* the previous web page. Consistent, to me, would be that when you open bookmarked tabs, they should *replace* whatever web page(s) were there.

IMO, the BACK button should restore all previous tabs (bug#?); or the the BACK button’s dropdown could have an item: “Restore previous tabs”. That would solve your problem, without causing inconsistency. :-)

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Cheah Chu Yeow

October 4th, 2004 at 6pm

When you open a bookmark, it *replaces* the previous web page.

I think you misread – I was saying when you middle-click a bookmark, it opens in a new tab. So if you middle-click a bookmark folder, it should open the contained bookmarks in new tabs.

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Scott Ventura

December 17th, 2004 at 9am

Many thanks for the about:config tip. I’ve been using Mozilla heavily for a year, but have recently been given incentive to switch to Firefox. As I frequently leave a browsing session open for weeks at a time, it’s of vital importance to me that I be able to open my daily reading link folder without trashing existing tabs.

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Ed

March 4th, 2006 at 1pm

oh my god, i’ve been searching all over for a solution to this problem which has plagued me forever

this was a retarded decision by mozilla, and i’m glad to have fixed it and never have to deal with losing important information because i accidentally middleclicked on a folder instead of the tab right below it

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Alex

May 30th, 2006 at 4am

Thank God for this user tip.

Actually, even changing the setting to false is not enough for me. I would like to disable “Open in Tabs” altogether. I suppose that might be heresy as it is a touted “feature” of firefox but I really do more harm than good with it (slip of the finger and, oops, 30+ tabs start opening up – Esc, Esc, Esc, Ctr-F4, Ctr-F4, Ctr-Alt-Del).

Thanks,
Alex

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SanBaldo » Blog Archive » Open in tabs (firefox)

July 9th, 2006 at 7pm

[…] If you ever tryed to use the “open in tabs” command in firefox, you saw that all the new opened tab overwrite current tabs. So here the fix: go to about:config and set the browser.tabs.loadFolderAndReplace to false (thanks to codefront.net permanent link […]

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Peter Buck

December 5th, 2006 at 3am

In case anyone’s still listening to this old thread, I vote that “Open in Tabs” opens tabs in included folders as well. This is probably the wrong place to reuest features–plz tell me at pbuck at his.com where to send my request. Thx – Peter

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Darius

December 21st, 2006 at 1pm

you can go to about:config and set the browser.tabs.loadFolderAndReplace preference to false

thanks for this. I went searching for bug reports about the destructive behavior after it recently happened to me, and I agree, the default behavior should be changed, but for now your solution is great.

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protocol7 » Blog Archive » del.icio.us "Open in tabs" issue

January 17th, 2007 at 6am

[…] The del.icio.us developers take bug reports and feedback on a Yahoo Group so I posted my problem there. And, a few days later I got this reply saying that this actually happens due to a change in a Firefox update. Workaround provided and tested to work as expected. While I certainly don’t agree with the default behavior, it’s at least nice that you can change it. […]

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Jay Valatka

February 10th, 2007 at 8pm

For Firefox 2.0, add this to the userChrome.css file in your profile directory:


menuitem[label="Open All in Tabs"] {
display: none !important;
}

You may have to create the userChrome.css file by making a copy of the provided example file and editing that.