You are here
Becoming a Tab Ninja with Firefox
Having recently switched back to Firefox, I've found some secret ways of becoming a Tab Master. Okay, so maybe "secret" is a little bit of an overstatement; but, though I had heard about them, somehow they had disappeared from the default appearance and common mention in the current versions of Firefox. One of them is so utterly useful that I can't believe I never knew about it. The other exists in Chrome as well, but is excellently implemented in Firefox and works beautifully in conjunction with -- how could you expect to be a Firefox Ninja without them? The shortcut keys!
Although Panorama was billed as a feature a few versions ago, I never tried it. And then it seems to have gone away. Actually, it is still there in Firefox; but they've taken it off the default toolbars and, essentially, you have to go looking for it.
How do I use this Panorama thing? Well, as you know, I prefer the shortcuts; and you can use those right now. Within your Firefox window just hit CTRL+SHIFT+E. You will see it "zoom out" to box that includes all your tabs. At the top of this box you can type in a name; this allows you to make persistent tab groups. To create a new group, just drag a tab from that main box out into the open; do the same with any of its kin. You will no longer see the other group's tabs from within the first group, but clicking on them here from the Panorama window will switch to them. The shortcut for switching groups without bringing up the Panorama window (although it looks so cool) is CTRL+` and CTRL+SHIFT+` (that's the little quote on the tilda key, to the left of your "1").
Enabling the Panorama Icon. This can be useful to keep things straight in your mind; the icon does the same thing as CTRL+SHIFT+E. Just right-click on your tool bar (not on the location bar part, though) and choose "Customize". In the resulting window you can see an icon labelled "tab groups"; you can drag-and-drop that to your tool bar, or to your add-on bar at the bottom, to insert it.
Other uses of Panorama include being able to close a whole group of tabs at once when you are finished with them, and being able to use Panorama Mode to be reminded not only of what tabs are open, but of what is on those pages (it gives a nice graphical preview). Enjoy!
Now, we mentioned those tabs you always keep open, like Gmail or Twitter (okay, I know, most of my acquaintances don't have much to do with Twitter). These, in Firefox as well as Chrome, can be pinned as App Tabs. An app tab appears as a mini-tab, showing only the site icon. It has no "close" button on the tab so you don't accidentally close it, and any link you follow within an app tab will open in a new window so you don't mess up the app page. Because they are small, they only minimally encumber your tab bar. So, try it: take that always-open page and right-click on the tab and choose "pin as app tab". It will go to the left of the bar in a miniature form. (If anyone has a shortcut so I don't have to use the mouse to create app tabs, that would be the best). When you need to close an app tab, right clicking on the tab and choosing close, or using the CTRL+W shortcut, will do that for you.
Using app tabs full speed and with Panorama. These tabs work great with Panorama mode because they will be carried to every group; in the Panorama mode (CTRL+SHIFT+E) they appear as small icons on the right side of the Panorama box. This means that the shortcuts you use to get to your Apps will always work. Wait, what shortcuts, you say? I guess I didn't mention those yet. In Firefox you can use CTRL+(number) to move to a tab in Windows, or Alt+(number) in Linux. So, if my gmail is always pinned as app-tab #1, I press CTRL+1 to switch to that tab in Microsoft Windows. This works up to tab #8; if you (as you well may) have more tabs than that open, not only do you not want to count which number you need to get there, but you might as well click. CTRL(/alt)+9 is very useful, though, because it switches to whatever the last tab you have open in this window is. These shortcuts work very nicely with the app tabs.
You are now on the road to becoming a Firefox Tab-browsing Ninja! Of course, this wouldn't be a post of mine if I didn't give you a quick run-down of the shortcuts to let you get the max out of these features. Enjoy!
|Next Panorama Tab Group||CTRL+`|
|Previous Panorama Tab Group||CTRL+SHIFT+`|
|Switch to Tab 1-8 (using Windows)||CTRL+[1..8]|
|Switch to Last Tab (using Windows)||CTRL+9|
|Switch to Tab 1-8 (using Linux)||ALT+[1..8]|
|Switch to Last Tab (using Linux)||ALT+9|