Finding tabs with the awesome bar?

If it’s not rare for you to have 20, 30 or 40 tabs opened at a time, you know how much of a burden it can be to get back to the one you need: you have to remember where it was in the tab bar and scroll it accordingly, or scan the List All Tabs menu.

An approach to this problem, and currently in development for Firefox 3.1, is displaying thumbnails of all your tabs so you can visually identify the one. The obvious limitation is that tabs may look alike, specially when you have too many tabs so the thumbnails get really small.  To see how this works check the Ctrl-Tab extension review.

Mozilla’s Madhava Enros proposed a couple of months ago including tabs in the location bar search space. If an open tab matches the entered keywords, options are presented to either switch to the already opened tab, or open a new one with the same page. This approach also helps avoid undesired tab duplication, a somewhat common situation when you are working with dozens of tabs at a time.

Aza Raskin has posted some updated mockups of possible implementations of this concept Mozilla will explore for Firefox 3.1.

From top to bottom:

  1. option to open in a new tab or switch are presented as different items in the autocomplete menu;
  2. open in a new tab is presented as a “sub-item”;
  3. and, my favorite, communicate the user how to open a new tab with a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + click/Ctrl + Enter), which of course works the same almosteverywhere in Firefox: bookmarks, back, links.

Share your opinion on the proposed behavior in this quick poll and your thoughts in the comments, or at Aza’s blog post.

[poll id=”21″]

4 thoughts on “Finding tabs with the awesome bar?”

  1. Cross posting from aza’s blog.
    Looks good to me but i have serious concerns about its usability.
    When awsome bar was introduced it was really good to have it. Especially for geeks like us. But look at oldbar[link][/link] addon statistics. Some people really didn’t like it at all. And might be few of thm all together dumped FF3. Might be more reviews and usability test is required. And disabling option is must. 🙂

  2. For me it really isn’t uncommon to have 25+ tabs open at a time but I can’t see an average user doing that. Using a great number of tabs is most definitely a choice that power users make and so an add-on or hack would be the most appropriate.

    Just because Mozilla has the ability to cram even more data into the location bar doesn’t mean that it should be done. If it is to be done, then we start hearing the word bloat come up.

    It is absolutely essential to the growth and retention of Firefox’s user base that Mozilla only implements new features and options that a very clear majority is calling for and that is certainly not the case when it comes to the location bar. I’ve seen more negative responses to Firefox 3’s Awesome Bar from all over the Internet that it has probably taken the place of the old Firefox memory usage complaints.

    Microsoft dictates what its users get and the results from that have all of us reading this article and using another browser.

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