Bring the old style tabs back!!

User Help for Mozilla Firefox

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Post Posted October 28th, 2006, 7:27 pm

rikyo wrote:here are two pictures

.. if you use Alt + PrintScrn only the active window is captured.

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Post Posted October 28th, 2006, 9:55 pm

Okay, I am saying again again that I am NOT arguing for which is more efficient. Rather, I am seeing things from the perspective of GUI design. The problem with the old tab behavior is that:

1. It gave no immediate indication as the purpose of the close button. At first sight, it looks like it's a redundant window close button. Only after they click on the button, its function becomes appearent. This is an example of bad UI design, no matter how used to it you are.

2. It did not let you close inactive tabs.

The middle click logic as a solution to #2 is not desirable because

a. Unlike the sub (right) click, both the main (left) click and middle click behaves in the same fashion in that it interacts directly with the graphical elements on screen and that it induces immediate reaction from the computer. This leads to the next point:

b. Not only is there no visual cue that indicates different behavior, making one is impossible because computer can't predict which click the user will use next.

c. Not everyone has middle click ability. Most of those who do has it in a form of a click wheel, which does not : 1. look like a button at all 2. unnatural to click on.

because of a, b, and c, middle click should only be a sub feaures. It should not be a replacement in and of itself.

I've said it before and I've said it again. The single main purpose of GUI is to provide users with a straightforward, visual fix on its fuctions. Convenience should come afterwards.

What people should opt for instead of using yet another mouse button is to utilize mouse gestures, which assigns meaning to the gesture, not the interaction with elements on the screen itself.

To sum up - this was a decision to remove "UI inconsistancy/ambiguosity", not a "function or feature". There is a difference, and it does not "dumb up" the application. It makes it more consistant and easier to get used to for both beginners and advanced users.


Post Posted October 28th, 2006, 10:08 pm

Mouse gestures are not the solution. Jerking the wrist around in defined patterns can lead to injury.

However, it is true that a close button on each tab is more obvious to a first-time user, and in most cases that is the best design, or at least the best default.

But in this case, closing say the last 5 tabs out of 10 you opened is so much harder with a close button that is in random places on the screen that it would be with a button on the right. Because of this, the button on the right option should be included as an option in the UI for expert users who prefer it or people who have an extra button that they like to use to close a single tab.

By the way, if you want to make the browser functional for users who do not have a middle click button, you need to add an option that makes left click open a link in a tab. Ctrl-click is a two hand operation, bad. And opening the menu, then choosing "open in tab" is very slow and annoying if you have to do it dozens of times. The browser is a real pain without TabMixPlus unless you have a middle-click, because opening in tabs is too hard. Adding this option would make using a no-middle-click mouse workable. As it is now, a middle click mouse is an essential for decent browsing without extensions.

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Post Posted October 28th, 2006, 11:38 pm

Thanks dickvl. Now I will have to remember all that and i will probably by habit turn back to the old keyboard combinations anyway. :-)


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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 12:01 am

You're welcome *lol*
If you forget then you can find them in:
Help > Help Contents > Keyboard Shortcuts
Help > Help Contents > Mouse Shortcuts
That shouldn't be to hard to remember :wink:

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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 12:16 am

following your message, I installed Vertigo. It is pretty nive but the problem is that the close box has disappeared (I still have and no one appeared on the tab sidbar. Is there a way to get the close box back? Also I agree with you that I would be more confortable with the sidebar on the right side. Would you tell me how to do that?


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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 4:11 am

Hmmm ... my ideal solution would be to have only one close box - on the ACTIVE tab!

This would seem to answer the new user/intuitive GUI objections to the previous scheme at zero sacrifice of screen real estate. It would also assist in differentiating the active tab - which can be a problem in some themes. And would be considerably less annoying to existing users.

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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 4:13 am

mathman wrote:Hmmm ... my ideal solution would be to have only one close box - on the ACTIVE tab!

Then use browser.tabs.closeButtons 0 ;) (Or maybe it was 1... I'm not sure) :D


Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 9:08 am

I don't know the closing tab aspect has got me thrown off, I actually loved the fact it only had one close tab button, the tab you were on was highlighted so I never had a problem with closing the wrong tab! Maybe you were just rushing to close all those porn windows and mistakenly closed one you didn't want to? Either way you can rearrange the order of tabs simply by drag and drop which could have helped with that problem. The new tabs take up way too much space, the scrolling is terrible having to search for an open window now.... I just prefer the old tab system a lot better, if I wanted tabs like this I would have just stuck with Opera! years ago... Come on they should have at least given us an option of which tab layout we would like to use.


blackwizard wrote:Um...guys, consider that FF1.5 had been the ONLY browser out there with a single close button to the right. ALL other browser that I am aware of have had close button on each tab since the very beginning of their implementation of tabs. Are all the other guys simply crazy to be implementing their tab close button so? I don't think so. They do it that way because from UI perspective, it's MUCH more efficient straightforward to use.

First of all, having close button on each tab removes any doubt as to which tab the user is closing. Mouse's primary advantage over the keyboard was the visual straightforwardness it offers. If you want to close tabs in rapid succession or something to that effect, you should be opting for the keyboard shortcut anyway. Mouse's primary function should not be compromised for something that can be achieved through other basic devices.

Having a single close button, as pointed out by an anonymous guest, makes tab management very cluttersome as well. Those two favor the middle click approach, here's a reason why that's something to avoid when designing any sensible platform independent UI.

There's nothing visible ANYWHERE that indicates the middle click induces such behavior. NOTHING. How should ot occur to an average user that middle clicking would close the tab?

Also consider:

1. There are people who don't have a scroll wheeled mouse. Heck, over in Mac platform, many users don't even have a right button.
2. The wheel itself doesn't look like a button at all. I've met dozens of people who didn't know that the wheel had such a function.

I myself have a scroll wheel mouse, but despise any application that forces me to click on it. Wheel's function is to scroll, and it usually has MUCH more resistance than the other buttons on the mouse to prevent accidental clicking while scrolling- making for a very unnatural clicking experience.

Also, I've mentioned that EVERY other browser that currently has any considerable user base has close button on each of its tabs. This means for everyone except the hardcore firefox users, that's "the way it's always been" for tabs - making the switch to firefox is that much easier if they choose to do so. Why should they deny newcomers of familiar interface when old interface was so illogical from UI perspective?


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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 12:48 pm

This pref determines when close buttons on inactive tabs are removed:

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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 3:13 pm

Well, from an UI point of view, the fixed position of the close button (like the old FF) is actually not bad and possibly even the best solution. The main focus of the eye is first and foremost the web page. If the page is to be closed, you only have to look 1 place and it will be the same place always, no exception. You learn this position of this button extremely fast and wont expect it to move. Downside is if you want to close a random page; then you have to select the tab and move to the very right to close it. In my experience, this doesn't happen often at all so not really a big problem. Closing the last opened pages on the other hand happens quite often and is easily don't without moving the mouse more than once.

On the other hand, when you want to close the active web page in FF2.0 with default button placement, you will have to search on average half the tabs for the close button (highlighting the tab helps the search but it is still a search). The button will move according to how many tabs are open. That requires more mouse movement for those who search while moving the mouse (lots of people do) which in turn leads to more stress. If lots of pages are open, close the last bunch will be similar to the above case. The upside is of course that each tab has its own close button which looks smart and intuitive (and it is) but it adds stress (you never know where it is before you look for it).

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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 7:24 pm

The problem with the single close button on the tab bar - in addition to its ambiguity as to which tab it's going to close - is that it's easily confused with the close button of the window. It looks the same, and is located roughly at the same location. Which is, as I have said before, the same problem that plagues the MS office suite of applications. A little less so, since there's no double behavior of the main close button, but it IS a problem.

Removing the close button from each tab, by extension, would be the same as removing the close button from each individual window and have one close on the taskbar. It's not as smart an approach as you might think it is. Just becuase you're used to something doesn't make it good.

The issue, I stress again, is not with the distance the mouse travels - I'm stating again and again that my beef is not with the efficiency. GUI is, sadly, not meant for efficiency. It's meant for ease of use and straightforwardness. Whatever efficiency they can squeeze out will have to come after recognizability, not before.

But! I did some thinking and I think the best approach to cater to those who want the old tab close behavior is to add another button to the title bar of the window that closes the current active tab and looks different from the X that closes the window. That way, people will not confuse it with the traditional window close button and close will stay in a "same" location relative to the window. If closing only the active tab had been their goal, this is what they should have done, instead of adding something to the tab bar itself.

As for the mouse gestures,

1. I only said that it is more intuitive than the middle click, which gives no indication whatsoever to the user until the deed is done. At least with mouse gestures, you have some idea what's going to happen before it actually does.

2. Neither mouse gestures nor middle click should be the default, or only method to do ANYTHING. That would be a UI nightmare. Neither gives a clear visual cue - none for middle click, and mouse gestures only has a little display on the staus bar.

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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 7:52 pm

Hey guys, great to come into the forum, unfortunately the first time I'm posting is for a negative reason :(

I installed FF2 the moment I saw it, and though "minimize to tray" extension didn't work anymore, I was willing to support FF2, but I have to say, I'm quite disappointed, as with the rest of you guys with the new UI. :(

I saw some of the solutions on the tabs problem, I'll give it a try when I get home(and the internet connection is working again).

I think the close button on the tabs itself is a step forward, but I realli think there should be settings where we would be allowed to chose from, which would probably end the complaints thead(and open a new one where people debate which is better :p ).

I hope this gets sorted out soon, love Firefox too much to lose it :D

Btw, does anybody know:
- How to get "minimize to tray" to work on FF2?
-Where I can get an installer of FF from(official)? (I downloaded it from, but not sure if thats ok)

Cheers, and much thanks in advance.


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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 8:46 pm

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Post Posted October 29th, 2006, 8:57 pm

Whoos. Overlooked skal's post.

, I had no idea vertigo did that under 1.5.. I had Tab Mix Plus installed and set to have close on each tab long before I installed vertigo. My apologies.

I did some tinkering and found out that single close button does NOT work well with vertical tab bar. It places a long dead space that's about the width of the close button down the entire height of the screen. Looks REALLY ugly, and it's too much of a space-waster.

That's probably why the author moved the function altogether in Vertigo. It will only let you have close on each tab, or not at all. I would advise using Tab Mix Plus or Tab Browsing Preferences to add close on each tab.

that being said, there are other ways to get vertical tab bar through userChrome edit. See

for details ((Firefox) is part of the URL). With this, you can add a single x to the tab bar by removing this

/* remove the close-tab button */
.tabbrowser-tabs > stack {
display: none;

code from the page mentioned. Be warned that it's extremely ugly, and wastes space like there's no tomorrow. If you want vertical tabs, you probably want buttons on all of the tabs. The page also tells you what you need to add if you want the tab bar to be on the right hand side. If you want to use vertigo+TMP or TBP combo, enable the the option that normally sets the tabs on the bottom to place tab bar on the right. On TMP, it's Display>Tab Bar> Position : bottom.

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