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firefox 4 app tabsFirefox 4 has been impressing users since its release, offering many useful improvements and tweaks. In fact, MakeUseOf readers recently voted Firefox 4 as the most improved browser Which Browser Do You Think Improved Most In The Last Version? [MakeUseOf Poll] Which Browser Do You Think Improved Most In The Last Version? [MakeUseOf Poll] Last week we stirred a little trouble by making readers tell us which operating system is best: Mac or Linux. We deliberately narrowed it down to just the two operating systems so we could get... Read More for its latest upgrade. That really says something about how much it has changed.

One of the new features of Firefox 4 which is incredibly useful is the idea of App Tabs. Basically, this lets you add the websites you visit all the time to a permanent position in your browser. So you don’t need to create special bookmarks or re-open these sites anymore. They will just sit there ready for your attention when required which is fantastic.

For those of you who have played with many Firefox add-ons in the past, the reality of the new App Tabs is precisely like the use of the Faviconize extension, mixed with the Permanent Tabs extension. Your App Tabs are kept open on the left hand side of your current tabs, with just an icon to indicate the service.

Set Up Your App Tabs

To create your own App Tabs, go to the website you wish to use as an App Tab. When the site is loaded, right-click the tab and choose “Pin as App Tab“. You’ll see the App Tab appear as a small tab to the left of your normal tabs, with just an icon for identification.

firefox 4 app tabs

If you want to keep adding App Tabs, open a new tab then navigate to the page you want and repeat the process. When you’ve got a few App Tabs created, you can rearrange them by dragging them left and right, as with any other tab. Note that these App Tabs will automatically load on the left whenever Firefox is started, even if you don’t normally have the rest of your tabs reload with Firefox.

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Getting Rid Of App Tabs

If you’ve had enough of your App Tabs, simply right click on the tab and choose “Unpin Tab“. You can also drag the tab back into your normal tabs and it will revert to a normal tab itself.

Why Use App Tabs?

So, now you know how to set these App Tabs up, but you might still be wondering what use you could have for them.

Here’s a few good ideas for App Tabs:

  • Gmail, Google Calendar and other Google Docs services (or equivalents) you use.
  • Your favourite online to-do list manager, eg. Remember The Milk.
  • Facebook, Twitter (or other favourite social network).
  • Your favourite news services, eg. Google News, Google Reader, Reddit, etc.

An ideal set-up would be to use your favourite Twitter lists, Facebook friends lists and sub-Reddits in App Tabs in order to keep track of the most important information only.

Other reasons for keeping App Tabs are more practical. Since you can’t accidentally close an App Tab, you can avoid losing emails and Facebook messages you’re in the middle of writing.

App Tabs will also change colour when there’s an update on the page, for instance when you’ve received email or your Facebook news feed has updated.

The App Tabs are essentially a permanent addition to your Firefox set-up and will always open when you open Firefox, so it could potentially save you quite a bit of time with your morning coffee routine, checking email, news and updates from friends.

App Tabs can also be used within Tab Groups The 5 Best Firefox 4 Addons For Tabbed Browsing The 5 Best Firefox 4 Addons For Tabbed Browsing Read More , so you can keep your tabs nicely organised, while enjoying the benefits of these permanent tabs.

More Firefox 4 Reading

If you’ve decided to upgrade to Firefox 4, you might want to check out some of the other new developments we’ve covered at MakeUseOf:

What do you think of Firefox 4? Will you be using the App Tabs? Let us know in the comments!

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