Tab Utilities is a Firefox add-on that helps you to control the behavior of different links from different locations to the smallest detail. You can determine how tabs will open or close, where links from external applications open, change the appearance of various tab states, and determine what different mouse clicks on different types of links will do.
If this sounds like a lot of features, you’re right! And that was just a brief overview of everything you can do with Tab Utilities.
Accessing Tab Utilities Options
After installing Tab Utilities and restarting Firefox, you can access its options in two ways – by adding the icon to your toolbar or through the Add-ons Manager.
Adding The Tab Utilities Options Icon To The Firefox Toolbar:
- Right-click your Firefox toolbar and select Customize… from the menu;
- In the Customize Toolbar window, find the Tab Utilities Options icon, then drag and drop it to your toolbar;
- Click Done and access the Tab Utilities options via the respective icon in your toolbar.
Note that it makes sense to have the icon in your toolbar initially, as you will probably be playing with the options a lot, until you have found the perfect settings for you. Once you have completed the initial testing phase, I recommend removing the icon.
Accessing The Tab Utilities Options Via The Add-Ons Manager:
- Click the Firefox button in the top left and select Add-ons from the menu;
- A new tab with the Add-Ons Manager will open;
- Scroll down to find the Tab Utilities entry and click the Options button to configure the addon.
The most essential feature of this app is to control how links from various sources will open.
This add-on, however, has turned around the logic. Instead of setting the behavior of different links, you define which types of links will open in a new tab, where that tab should be located, and whether it should be focused. You can also determine what page will be loaded when you open a new tab.
Almost as important as opening tabs is closing them and what happens thereafter.
Tab Utilities provides an interesting solution for which tab to focus on after closing a tab that was previously in focus. You can either jump to a related tab, an unrelated tab, or an unread tab. You can also let the tab to the left or right come into focus, or simply the first tab, last tab, or last visited tab. You cannot change the order of these items, but you can uncheck the first and second if none of the available behaviors is desirable.
In addition you can make unintentional blank tabs auto-close, change the number of restorable tabs (0 to 999), and enable keyboard shortcuts for navigating tabs.
The Links section provides a few basic features, see an overview in the screenshot below.
In my opinion it is lacking one key feature: being able to determine whether or not opening a link from an external application will bring the browser into focus. This is especially disappointing, since to my knowledge Firefox is the only major browser that has the ability to support this setting natively. If opening external links in the background is a feature you are looking for, have a look at this article: How To Make Links Open In The Background With Firefox & Chrome
In the Mouse section you can control some highly advanced settings for various mouse-only clicks or clicks together with keys, such as [CTRL] or [SHIFT].
Finally, under Appearance you can change the look of the tab bar, individual tabs, tab right-click menus, and status bar buttons. The options are plentiful and intuitive.
Since the available options are so complex, you can export settings to back them up and import settings to restore your preferences. The respective button can be found in the bottom left of the Tab Utilities Options window.
Also note that Tab Utilities comes with status bar buttons that are located in the bottom right of your browser. You can use these buttons to temporarily force all links to be opened in a new tab, in the background, or in the foreground.
Taken together, Tab Utilities offers a comprehensive list of options to control the behavior of links and tabs in almost any imaginable situation. It’s a must-have for people who go through a great number of websites every day and desire different behaviors for links opened from different sources.
Does Tab Utilities satisfy your needs in regards to controlling tab and link behaviors?