MileWideBack Firefox extension saves you from “complex hand-to-eye coordination”

In: Mozilla

24 Oct 2004

The MileWideBack extension ( listing) for Firefox popped up recently on and with a name like that I had to check it out. And whaddya know, it turns out to be yet another essential extension (as far as I’m concerned). The premise of MileWideBack is simple: you use the left-edge of the Firefox window to navigate back and forth in your tab history.

This extension allows you to navigate back and forth without requiring complex hand-to-eye coordination.

“Complex hand-to-eye coordination” may sound amusing at first, and while I can certainly hit the back and forward buttons without a thought, but if you think of it these buttons are really, really small compared to the vast wasteland that is your maximized browser window. Particularly for my case, where I like to “Use small icons” for the buttons in the Firefox toolbar to save on vertical screen real estate.

Screenshot of Firefox Back and Forward buttons

These little buttons take up really minimal space in the browser, as the screenshot below shows:

Screenshot of full Firefox window pointing out relative smallness of buttons

Fitt’s Law would suggest that it will take a long time (“long” in relative terms) for someone to find and hit those small buttons (but somehow I get by because I’m probably on the computer way too long for my own good). MileWideBack in a sense throws Fitt’s Law out the window by allowing you to navigate back and forth by simply “throwing” the mouse to the left and then right-, left- or middle-clicking. (I say Fitt’s Law doesn’t really apply because it takes constant time to move to the extreme left of the window when no aiming is needed.) You right-click to go back, left-click to go forward, and middle-click to reload the page.

Neat little extension, isn’t it?

12 Responses to MileWideBack Firefox extension saves you from “complex hand-to-eye coordination”



October 24th, 2004 at 8pm

Agreed, this extension is really sweet; the only reason I don’t use it is because of my need (yes, its that good!) for Synergy. However, I installed it on my brother’s computer, and he finds it very useful. Thanks for the great find!



October 24th, 2004 at 9pm

What’s the advantage of this over the standard mouse gesture of “hold the right button and click the left to go back” [and vice-versa for going forwards]?

I forget if some mouse gestures come by default with Firefox [as they do with Opera] or if they are all a part of an extension, but I would think it’s a lot easier to use the gestures than this extension — in particular when browsing back through, say, a photo gallery’s images: with the gesture, the pointer can remain fixed over one portion of the screen as you navigate back and forth.



October 24th, 2004 at 10pm

This is one of the many ways in which Microsoft have improved my browsing experience – they sold me a mouse with a back button that works in Firefox :-)

Of course, All-in-One Gestures allow one to draw a short backwards or forwards line, or to rock the mouse buttons. The only reason the forwards and back buttons are still on my tool bar is for the little menu. I am very tempted to scare my colleagues with the spasmodic side-flipping required by this extension though :)



October 24th, 2004 at 11pm

Mouse gesture is good enough. My friends are amazed when they see me navigating with a single hand (although this may not be good to my health :-P).



October 24th, 2004 at 11pm

By the way, if you like Fitt’s Law, you should make the buttons super large! (just kidding)

You should also get yourself a Mac if you like to have menu/buttons on the edges of the screen (boyett’s law)?


Cheah Chu Yeow

October 25th, 2004 at 12am

David: Mouse gestures can be added into Firefox with an extension (i.e. they don’t come by default). I never really got used to mouse gestures because they didn’t seem to work all the time and I found it hard to remember the gestures.

But you do make a good point on the photo gallery browsing example.

minghong: Erm, do you normally navigate with 2 hands without mouse gestures? Hehe ;) As for a Mac, I am actually thinking of getting one, but only when I have a bigger (much bigger) paycheck. I’d want to try out a Linux desktop machine with either KDE or GNOME first.



October 25th, 2004 at 2am

Try using the easyGestures extention – the extention pops up a pie menu each time you click on the middle button.
all you have to do to move backward in the history is click down on the middle button, move a little to the left, click up on the middle button.

for each of the 8 directions on the pie there is a different action with another set available on a right click.


October 25th, 2004 at 5pm

MileWideBack Firefox extension
Yet another potenti And whaddya know, it turns out to be yet another essential extension (as far as I’m concerned). The premise of MileWideBack is simple: you use the left-edge of the Firefox window to navigate back and forth in your tab history.



October 25th, 2004 at 11pm

Cheah Chu Yeow, yup, 2 hands are needed: left hand for keyboard shortcuts (e.g. Ctrl + O, Ctrl + T) and right hand for clicking.

By the way, this bug need to be fixed if Firefox has to fulfill Boyett’s Law.



October 26th, 2004 at 3pm

Great idea, but this is why I buy 5+ button mice where there are already buttons on it for me to just click to go back and forward. :D



October 27th, 2004 at 5am

Agreed with Nick… I have an MX510 (blue). I simply hit the thumb buttons when I need to navigate back and forth. Saves my Firefox some bloat.



November 18th, 2004 at 11pm

For those who’ve mentioned mouse gestures… I liked them so much in Firefox that I got StrokeIt.exe. Yes, it’s one of the worst-named pieces of software ever, but it takes the mouse gesture idea and applies it _to every application_ on your computer.

Imagine tracing a ‘C’ to close windows, tracing a ‘reverse C’ (i.e. a C written from bottom to top) to close individual Word or Excel or whatever windows. Imagine tracing an E to open Explorer, a D within Explorer to view files by details, an N to view by icons, &c. Endlessly customizable, StrokeIt’s gestures free you up not just in Firefox but everywhere else.

Try it! Talk about freaky cool. Get rid of All-in-One gestures and go for StrokeIt