One of the truly nice thing about modern computers is that design has given us wider screens than ever. That’s beautiful for watching movies and somewhat better for web browsing. The screens now seem to be wider than taller.
If you look at the top of your screen right now, there’s probably a menu bar, the title of the webpage that you’re browsing, a tab bar, and the URL of the webpage that you currently have open. All are necessary for the full browsing experience. Sure, you can turn a couple of them off or go full screen but it’s not just the same. I always feel like I’m missing something when I do that.
If you look to the left and/or right of the webpage, you’ll see that there’s probably quite a bit of wasted space. What if you could do something about that?
Some browsers will allow you to move your tab bar to the left or right of the screen. That’s helpful and something that I’ve done for a while. On other browsers, also, you can move your cursor over a tab at the top of the screen and a quick thumbnail preview will appear of the website that is associated with that tab. That’s helpful and productive as well.
Would you be excited if you could get both?
You can now if you’re using the Firefox browser and have “Test Pilot” enabled. One of the features is called “Tab Center“. Enable it and you’ll get the best of both of the above worlds. Tabs move to the side of the screen, enabling more real estate from top to bottom, and there’s a preview of the tab continuously available.
Welcome to a glimpse of what I’m currently doing. You’ll undoubtedly recognize the icons – from the top down – Tweetdeck, Facebook (I have a notification!), Inbox, Flipboard, and this blog (which I’m editing so it’s side-lighted). There’s more, far more, other things that are open. I don’t know what the record is for open tabs but I’ve got to be in the running!
There’s a + to add yet another tab; and icon to move the tabs back to the top, and a right click on each icon gives you the familiar set of options that you can apply to the tab. If you’re not a right click person, the traditional keyboard shortcuts work as well.
Place your cursor on the divider between the tabs and the workspace and you can drag it open to get more details, as well as a search feature.
If Firefox is your browser, give it a shot and see if it doesn’t change the way that you think about tabbed browsing. I can see this being added to all browsers in the future. Right now, it’s being tested in Firefox; there are bound to be replicative extensions but you can’t beat a feature like this being baked right into the way things are done.