Moving Browser Tabs To The Sidebar

22 Lug/10

I just stumbled upon Rarst’s post over at his blog about moving browser tabs to the right, and felt intrigued. I have tried to move the tabs to the sidebar before but quickly reverted the changes, mainly because it takes some time to get adjusted to it, especially after working for years with tabs on top.

The benefit of running tabs in the sidebar, either left or right, is the same as running the Windows Taskbar at the left or right side of the computer screen: Space.

A vertical placement can display more information and more tabs openly than a horizontal tab bar can.

firefox tabs sidebar

firefox tabs sidebar

This is especially obvious if the computer uses a widescreen monitor, as most websites do not make use of the full screen width, especially on large resolutions such as 1920×1200. This resolution for instance often means more than 400pixels of white space on the left and right side, if the browser is running in full screen mode. The display width is usually sufficient to display all website contents on the screen, the height however is not. More horizontal space means that the website has more space to display.

Rarst has already mentioned how to switch to a vertical tab bar in Opera ( Right-click tab bar > Tab Bar Placement). I have decided to take a look at the Firefox browser instead.

Firefox does not offer vertical tab placements out of the box. Add-ons have been created that can move the tabs to a sidebar. One of the add-ons is Tab Kit.

The add-on automatically moves the tab bar to the left sidebar upon installation and restart of the web browser.

The colors that are initially displayed can be deactivated, the position of the bar switched to the right side, top (default position, or bottom.

The display can be further customized in the options. It is here for instance possible, and advised, to display a close button next to each tab. By default, the close button is only displayed at the bottom of the screen, which is not very functional to say the least.

tab kit

tab kit

Tab Kit supports mouse gestured to quickly switch between tabs, and it is of course still possible to display the first ten tabs by pressing CTRl-[1-9] on the keyboard.

The benefits of running tabs in the sidebar

Below are the benefits of running tabs in the sidebar, the disadvantages or situations where you should not do that are listed in the next paragraph instead.

  • If lots of tabs are often open at the same time, especially if that means that not all tabs are displayed all the time in the horizontal bar.
  • If width is not a issue, e.g. on widescreen monitors.
  • If every pixel of height is of importance.
  • If you prefer to have the page titles visible all the time

When you should not run tabs in sidebar

There are situations where it is not advised to run tabs in a sidebar.

  • If the computer monitor is only capable of small resolutions, e.g. 1024×768.
  • If only a handful of tabs are opened all the time
  • If the sidebars are already occupied
  • If the user likes to align windows on the screen so that the web browser is only displayed in part of it.

There is one last thing to address. Should you place the tab bar in the left or right sidebar? This again depends on a few factors. If the left sidebar is already occupied you may want to move it to the right. The right side has the additional advantage that the scrollbar is there as well, which usually means that the mouse is often located in that area to navigate the page.

The left sidebar placement on the other hand is closer to the browser menus and the url form. It is however more distracting on the left, especially in the beginning after making the switch.

Where is your tabbar located? Are you using a vertical or horizontal placement, and why?

© Martin for gHacks Technology News, 2010. | Permalink | Add to, digg, facebook, reddit, <a href=" Browser Tabs To The Sidebarstumbleupon, twitter
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