Organize Firefox Open Tabs With Tab Groups

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manage firefox tab groupsHow many tabs do you open in each browsing session? Five? Ten? Above fifty? Tabs might be one of the best features added to browsers, but some might argue that it’s also one of the worst.

It’s very easy to lose yourself amidst stacks of open tabs. The more tabs you open, the more difficult it is to keep track of them and to move between opened sites. Mozilla has tried to solve the tabs problem by adding a new feature called “Tab Groups” to the latest version of its popular Firefox browser.

Manage Firefox Tab Groups

To access this feature, click the small arrow on the very right of the open tabs (next to the “+” button). You’ll see Tab Groups above the list of sites currently open. You can also access the feature by using the shortcut key combination (Control + Shift + E for Windows or Command + Shift + E for Mac).

manage firefox tab groups

Activating Tab Groups will put Firefox into the “Group Your Tabs” view with all of your tabs stacked inside one container. You can give the tab group a name by clicking on the “pencil” icon at the top left corner of the group window. To add a new tab to the group, click the “+” button.

manage firefox tab

As the name suggests, the “Expand” button will expand the group window and display a preview of all the tabs inside. This feature is useful if you want to quickly see what’s inside a specific page. You can also close a tab by clicking the “X” button.

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manage firefox tab

You can also peek inside a page by resizing the group window. If you only have a small number of open tabs inside the group, the result will be similar to the “Expand” feature. But for bigger groups, you’ll get better previews using Expand.

manage firefox tab

If one of the groups has grown too big, you can split the group into smaller groups. Drag a tab out of a group to make a new group, or drag another tab on top of the new group to expand the group.

firefox tab groups

You can group tabs based on as many categories that you want, such as design, download, Linux, Mac, Windows, social, work, fun, gossip, news, etc. Clicking on one of the tabs in a group will open the tabs in that group in the normal browsing mode.

Arranging The Groups

Normal browser users with lots of open tabs will easily end up with several tab groups. But if you think your group area will be messy, you are wrong. The grouping feature comes with the ability to snap the group windows into grids. The grids are aligned to other windows.

firefox tab groups

You can neatly arrange the windows next to one another. Every time you bring two windows closer together, faint alignment lines will appear and you can “snap” the window to the lines.

firefox tab groups

Another neat ability of this feature is “Search“. Click the magnifying glass icon and enter your search terms. All of the area will be darkened and pages that match your search will be highlighted.

For example, I entered “answer” in the search field and the MakeUseOf Answers page is highlighted.

manage firefox tab groups

One Simple Quick Trick

What’s the advantage of using Tab Groups other than having your open tabs neatly arranged into groups? I found that this feature allows me to move between tabs quickly and easily using shortcut keys. Here’s how to do it:

  • From the normal browsing view, hit the Tab Groups shortcut key combination (Ctrl + Shift + E or Command + Shift + E).
  • Then navigate to the page that you want to open using keyboard arrow keys (Up-Down-Left-Right).
  • With the page selected, hit the Tab Group shortcut keys again to go back to the normal browsing view.

So if you are a tab junkie, the Firefox 4 Tab Groups feature will really help you improve your browsing experience. If you haven’t tried Tab Groups, now would be a good time to start. Then tell us what you think about the feature using the comments below.

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Comments (11)
  • GSB

    There is also seen a shortcut key – [Ctrl] + [`] which quickly switches between the last viewed tab of different groups.

    Does anyone know of an easy visual way to see if there are multiple groups set up in one window or am I missing something?

  • Nick Daws

    According to this recent blog post, you can save tab groups by going to about:config and re-enabling the Save and Quit dialog box.
    http://rosiechen17.typepad.com
    I haven’t tried this myself yet, but I will.
    In the longer term, it would be good if it was possible to save tab groups selectively, or in multiple configurations. Can’t help thinking there’s scope for an add-on here.

  • Nick Daws

    According to this recent blog post, you can save tab groups by going to about:config and re-enabling the Save and Quit dialog box.
    http://rosiechen17.typepad.com/blog/2011/05/save-your-tabs-and-panorama-tab-groups-in-firefox-4.html
    I haven’t tried this myself yet, but I will.
    In the longer term, it would be good if it was possible to save tab groups selectively, or in multiple configurations. Can’t help thinking there’s scope for an add-on here.

  • Ben

    Refer to this article to accomplish what you want:http://browsers.about.com/od/f

  • Saikat Basu

    I wish I could save multiple browsing sessions (with all tab groups intact). Presently, FF remembers the last open session only. I think a FF hack or an add-on should do the trick.

    • casey

      Try Session Manager (firefox add-on) to save sessions of open tabs. It auto saves open tabs every 5 minutes and you can go back to them at any time as it catalogs your tabs. NO MORE LOST TABS!

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.