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organize tabs firefoxOne of the main reason why Internet Explorer lost its popularity back then was the lack of tabs. If you wanted to open two sites, you had to open two browser windows. Twenty sites equals twenty windows. This reason alone was enough to make people switch to IE’s archenemy at that time: Firefox.

Nowadays, every browser has a tab feature and internet users have changed their old habit of visiting only few sites at once in different browser windows to loading all that they can in just one window but in multiple tabs. You could easily have 30 or more open tabs at once. Managing them becomes our new problem.

Survival Of The Fittest

It seems like the fate of Internet Explorer is also happening to Firefox. The browser that everybody used to love begins to lose its ground to the competitors. Users complain that as time goes by, Firefox has become more and more bloated.

To win back its fans, Firefox tries to innovate. They tried by proposing a solution for the tab management problem: a concept called Tab Candy Tab Candy - A Firefox Tabs Test Feature You HAVE TO Get Tab Candy - A Firefox Tabs Test Feature You HAVE TO Get Read More – then renamed as Panorama. The feature is already built into the latest beta release of Firefox 4.

To understand more about Panorama, you could watch this short video:


Firefox Panorama: How To from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

If you prefer to wait until the final release of Firefox 4 but your hands are already itching to try Panorama, you could try a similar feature on Google Chrome with the help of an extension called Tab Sugar. So let’s have a look at this one first before going to the real thing.

Pour Some Sugar On Me

To install the extension, go to Tab Sugar site using Chrome and click the “Try Tab Sugar” blue button. You will be brought to the Chrome extension page for Tab Sugar. Click “Install” on the page and click “Install” one more time on the confirmation page.

organize tabs firefox

The extension will reside on the top right area of the window, next to the URL field.

tabs in firefox

Click on the icon to start using it. A new tab called “Tab Sugar” will open. Inside the tab is an unnamed group with all of your open tab inside. Start by naming the group.

tabs in firefox

Then click on the expand button below the group to view all the open tabs.

tabs in firefox

You can then drag out member(s) of the group to create a separate group, drag and drop web pages from one group to another, resize and move the group windows and arrange them to your preferences.

When you click on a group, only the pages within the group that will be opened in tabs. Other pages from other groups will not be opened. This will create less tab clutter in your browser. To open other groups, you have to go back to Tab Sugar.

There’s an “Options” link at the upper right of Tab Sugar interface. You might want to tinker with some of the items like assigning keyboard shortcuts to open Tab Sugar and disabling the latest news update.

firefox tabs

The Sweet Panorama

And for those who feel a little adventurous, why not check Firefox 4 Beta and the Panorama concept? Since all that Tab Sugar does is trying to reproduce Panorama, you would find these two to be similar.

The Panorama button is located next to URL field. You can open the panorama mode by clicking this button or by using the shortcut key assigned to it: Ctrl + Space (Windows) or Alt + Space (Mac).

firefox tabs

A quick introduction video (similar to the one we have above) will open in the panorama mode. You can just close it.

Group or regroup open tabs by dragging and dropping them on top of each other. Resize the thumbnails and rearrange them to your liking.

organize tabs firefox

And The Verdict Is…

After trying both Tab Sugar for Chrome and Panorama in Firefox 4 Beta, I can conclude that the Firefox version is more stable. The grouping and re-grouping process is much smoother. And as a bonus, you can snap the group windows to grid, so everything looks neat and tidy. I think Firefox could make a comeback with this one.

While for Tab Sugar, I think we should wait until a more stable build is released (it’s still in alpha at the moment of writing). But I like the option to assign our own of shortcut key combinations and the possibility to use the news update for other news feed (it’s not applied yet but I think it’s possible. One can dream, can’t he?).

And as a tab junkie, I also hope that this kind of tab organization method will find its way to other browsers.

Have you tried Tab Sugar and/or Panorama? Do you have your own way to organize tabs in Firefox or Chrome? Share using the comment section below.

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  1. TLW
    September 17, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Ooops. I stand corrected, Jeffry :)

    • Anonymous
      September 17, 2010 at 10:44 pm


  2. TLW
    September 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Aza, I think I'm going to wait for F4 to come out of Beta. I loaded it shortly after its release. It was quirky and more unstable than I am :)

  3. thenonhacker
    September 16, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Tab Sugar and the one I saw in Firefox 4 Beta -- I think it's very OCD, and it's meta-work.

    I open tabs, read them, close them. But organizing them into nice groups? You must have a lot of time in your hands!

  4. thenonhacker
    September 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Tab Sugar and the one I saw in Firefox 4 Beta -- I think it's very OCD, and it's meta-work.

    I open tabs, read them, close them. But organizing them into nice groups? You must have a lot of time in your hands!

    • Mario Dusbane
      September 17, 2010 at 6:57 am

      many people have 20-40 open tabs on a regular basis. Addons like these make it very easy to navigate and manage open tabs.

    • Ethan
      October 6, 2010 at 12:55 pm

      On the contrary, it simply depends on your browsing habits. I've been using Panorama in Firefox 4 for a few months and it saves me loads of time.