Mozilla rethinks the behavior of new browser tabs

Posted on March 7, 2009. Filed under: Internet, Software World | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder,


A few months ago Mozilla embarked on a quest to determine a way to make new browser tabs more useful. Right now, when you open a new tab in Firefox you get a blank page. Compare that with Google Chrome, Safari, or Opera, which show you a list of shortcuts to your bookmarked or frequently visited pages.

Today Mozilla’s Aza Raskin shared some of the team’s conclusions, based on user feedback. Basically, most of the time when you open a new tab it’s because you’re going to load a web page or conduct a search. The image above shows a screen that tries to help you accomplish these things without getting in your way or requiring much user interaction.

Along the right side of the window you’ll find a list of frequently visited web sites. The list is generated automatically, much like the shortcuts that pop up when you launch a new tab in Google Chrome. So there’s nothing too new there. But the cooler stuff takes place on the left side of the screen.

When you open a new tab to start a search, there’s a decent chance that you’ve highlighted and copied some text from another tab. So if you’ve already copied some text to your clipboard, you should be able to conduct a search in the new tab with a single click. Ultimately this action would be tied to your default search engine. Likewise, if you’ve selected URL, you’ll be able to open it in a new tab with a single click.

You can take this new tab feature for a spin by installing the latest development build of Firefox 3.1 and then installing the New Tab proptype plugin.


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