7 Ways to Become More Productive With Firefox Tabs

Ann Smarty 14-02-2010

I remember the very first reason why I started using Firefox which was its “tabbing” feature (it was long ago and Internet Explorer didn’t have tabs then). It seemed so handy that I was amazed.


Now I still use Firefox (even though all other browsers have tabs now) and I am still pretty excited at the ability to open links in new tabs. Sometimes I have dozens of them opened and this is when it stops being handy (and usable).

Luckily Firefox is awesome and there are plenty of addons that make it even more awesome, so this post lists 7 most useful (for me) ways to get productive with Firefox tabs.

1. “Tabbing” Shortcuts

The best way to navigate through your open tabs is to learn related Firefox shortcuts. I am listing them below in a somewhat easier-to-digest way:

7 Ways to Become More Productive With Firefox Tabs tabbing shortcuts firefox

2. App Tabs

This is an amazing productivity enhancer: this addon allows you to “app tabs” you want to refer to a bit later. “Apping a tab” means moving it to the left side of the tab bar and shrinking it to the size of its favicon.

App tabs

Note: for some reason the addon is not on official addons resource, I got it from here and have had no problems with that version so far.

I’ve been actively using the addon ever since I discovered it. The only issue with it is that the number of “apped tabs” is hard to control (like the number of regular open tabs), and sometimes they become too much.

3. Find In Tabs

Find In Tab is another great Firefox addon that I am constantly using. It adds an alternative option to the CTRL+F command to search through all open tabs:

  • Clicking the “Find in Tabs“ button on the find bar will search for text in all open tabs, and show a list of search results.
  • Clicking any of the results will jump to the tab on which it was found, and scroll directly to the highlighted text.

Find in Tabs

4. Next Tab

Next Tab is another time-saving Firefox extension that adds another option to your right-click menu allowing you to open the link right next to the current tab. This way, if you have multiple tabs open you won’t have to scroll to the last one to find your new tab. The link will open in the next tab to the current one:

Next tab

5. Tab Preview

No more clicking through dozens of open tabs looking for the one you need: Tab Preview shows you the preview of the page in each tab on mouseover for you to find the one you are looking for.

I’ve been using the addon for quite some time now and never noticed it slow down the browser performance. In fact, it works amazingly fast:

Tab preview

6. Tab Navigator

TabNavigator is a Firefox addon that allows desktop style tab navigation. What it basically means is that you can navigate between your active tabs using a shortcut {ALT+R}. Moreover, it allows you to guess the target tab by showing you the domain favicon.

Tab Navigator

7. Rights To Close

This addon saves time immensely by making closing tabs really fast and easy: just right double-click anywhere on the webpage to close the current tab.

Rights to close

More FireFox Tab Productivity Tips To Enjoy:

What productivity tips do you have for more effective Firefox tabbing? Please share them in the comments!

Image Credit Mixy

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  1. Carl - Web Courses Bangkok
    April 3, 2010 at 4:18 am

    Really useful especially how to tab through your tabs, so to speak.


  2. Naruto Episodes
    February 28, 2010 at 6:56 am

    thanks for the useful tips, much appreciated.

  3. صور بنات
    February 27, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Firefox is one of the most and greatest app in the world.

    Not to mention how the company gave us and provided us this app for free :)

  4. Master Zukhruf
    February 26, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I like Mozilla Firefox, and this article is very nice. Thanks.

  5. Kolin
    February 20, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Perhaps I am not 'Geeky' enough but I don't see the use of all these 'clever' 'control' F things. I have a curser and I click to open, click to close. It works!!

    If that is not considered abusive, nit-picking etc let me also say that the annoying 'share' thing that stops me looking at what is beneath is a bloody nusience. Is there a super add-on that I can use to stop it? ...or maybe a 'control' F code to do so.

  6. 3rn3st0
    February 19, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Ctrl + PgUp == Ctrl + Tab
    Ctrl + PgDn == Ctrl + Shift + Tab

    Thx from Venezuela, your posts are axcelents :-)

  7. sofie
    February 16, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Tab Mix Plus doesn't seem to get enough respect. it's the only tab add-on i use. it gets it right. The Firefox folks and devs seem to be ignoring it and/or working around it or trying to imitate it and failing imho. bloggers seem to enjoy touting all the imitators. thanks TabMixPlus folks for getting it right.

  8. Simon
    February 16, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Personally, I find "Tabs Open Relative" does a better job than your number 4 tip. It just does what it says on the tin, there's no extra button to press.. Just a middle click to open in a new tab and it opens relative to the tab you were on...

  9. DJaVuPixel
    February 16, 2010 at 2:32 am

    Nice article. You should put Tab Mix plus addon also because it makes what other plugin here do and more and you only need one plugin.

  10. George Serradinho
    February 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing all these tips, it makes my life easier now as I'm way more productive knowing them. I only knew a few, but have added a few more to my list.

  11. Jesstern
    February 15, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Nice article! I use FaviconizeTab and Tab Mix Plus. With the latter you can colour code your tabs and in a glance know which tabs are still loading or not yet visited.

  12. Web Design Kent
    February 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Now I do like a good shortcut, must start committing some of these to memory

  13. Kevin
    February 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

    The [CTRL]+number does not work to switch tabs at all.

    • Michael A. Vickers
      February 15, 2010 at 8:29 am

      I wonder if you have something interfering with it... still works for me as of 3.6.

      • Kevin
        February 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm

        I'm using 3.5.7 with a couple extensions and the LittleFox theme. I suppose that something could be preventing it from working there, but none of my extensions use those keyboard shortcuts. I'm also using it on linux. I'm wondering if this is a feature of the Windows build that the Linux build doesn't have (or doesn't have enabled by default).

    • Ann Smarty
      February 15, 2010 at 9:23 am

      Works here as well

  14. ttasterisco
    February 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

    check out Read It Later addon. it's a must for uncluttering firefox with tabs. you can save the tab for later viewing (and works offline too)

    • ttasterisco
      February 15, 2010 at 7:58 am

      also it's a shame mozilla disabled the ctrl-arrows for moving tabs around.

      it was a must for tab organizing..

  15. Simon
    February 15, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Using [CTRL]+[Page Up] you change to the first tab to the left, with [Page Down] you go one tab to the right

    • Ann Smarty
      February 15, 2010 at 9:28 am

      Doesn't work with me. Probably some of the addons I have are changing this behavior. Thoughts?

      • Michael A. Vickers
        February 15, 2010 at 9:31 am

        Under Tools menu check to see if you have the KeyConfig option. If you do, select it. See if the CTRL+Page Up/Down keystroke is mapped to another function.

  16. Arun Basil Lal
    February 15, 2010 at 7:10 am

    App Tabs is available in the official Add-on repository here:

    • Ann Smarty
      February 15, 2010 at 9:29 am

      Oh thanks much. I wasn't aware of that one.

  17. Michael A. Vickers
    February 15, 2010 at 5:09 am

    Tab Mix Plus anyone?

    It has a bazillion options for managing tabs. One of my favorite options is the ctrl-tab feature which works like the Tab Navigator add-on listed above but shows both the icon and title text of each tab/web page.

    I also used the already-mentioned FaviconizeTab add-on and have put my "app" based sites into the options to automatically iconize when they are loaded.

    Another helpful tip that everybody probably already knows about -- hold the shift key down and click on a tab to lock it. This will keep the tab from being closed (you'll receive a warning message first), even when you try to close FireFox. This is useful for some of my "app" tabs where I'd want to make sure everything is saved on the page before it's closed.

    Good article, thanks for sharing.

  18. kellyburby1
    February 15, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Thanks for sharing such useful tips.

  19. Ann Smarty
    February 15, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Just tried enabling it and it looks really useful - thanks

  20. Diabolic Preacher
    February 15, 2010 at 1:18 am

    The tips are old. The easy to digest cheatsheet is nice idea. tip for visual tabs feature in 3.6 is much appreciated. am still using ctrl-tab extension for that alongwith the fact that it can show all open tabs on a overlay and lets you close tabs without activating them.

    Contrary to opening lots of tabs that slow down (at least) old machines, I recommend trying out Interclue which lets you preview link contents in the same page which you are previewing from. Its got loads of features and it all helps to speed up browsing through a page.

  21. felipe1982
    February 14, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    It was Opera, IIRC, that introduced tabs to web browsing

  22. John
    February 14, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Horizontal tab bar is definitely useless, as Lupin says. Personally, I use Tab Kit (, which looks pretty much the same as "Tree Style Tabs".

    Mouse gestures are also a great way to go, as Johnny D says. I use StrokeIt (, which is a Windows app that lets you customize mouse gestures for any application...

  23. Mel
    February 14, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    I agree with Johnny D. Mouse gestures handle some of those things faster and easier. I recommend "Firegestures" over the other gesture add-ons. I also recommend TabMixPlus which does many of those things the seperate add-ons do, plus a whole lot more.

  24. greyfade
    February 14, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I've been using Vimperator for a long time. It has a number of features that, while initially hard to use, end up making the browser a much more powerful tool. Anyone who's used Vim will find it very familiar.

  25. ph
    February 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Rather than "Next tab" addon, I use "Tabs Open Relative" .. it does pretty much the same thing, but for all new tabs rather than just those you right-click on.

    • June
      February 22, 2010 at 2:54 am

      FF 3.6 automatically opens the new tab next to the current one. You can change this setting in the About:config section of FF.

  26. johnny d
    February 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    you should definitely check 'mouse gestures' or 'all-in-one gestures' these are great enhancers to your everyday browsing. basically the majority of things you presented here, each requiring separate add-on can be done with simple mouse gestures. i hope that helps.

    • Ann Smarty
      February 15, 2010 at 2:54 am

      I'll check them out - thanks!

  27. Ted
    February 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I use Firefox addon "lasttab". It changes default tab order to last used one, like in Windows Alt+Tab, or in Opera. And it shows nice page preview. If you want to work with two tabs, and there is opened 20, no need to move thorough 19 tabs to catch your previous. Ctrl+shift+tab is uncomfortable for tight use.

  28. Lupin
    February 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Most of the things listed here just try to hide the fact that a horizontal tabbar is always useless above a certain number of open tabs (even a widescreen monitor gives you space for just a few more tabs)

    If you talk about "productivity" with tabs, some vertical tab extension should definitely have been included. Look at "Tree Style Tabs" for example ( ). It shows tabs in a hierachy, where links opened in new tabs are shown as subelements of the current tab. I didn't fill the whole tabbar and counted, but even with 40 - 50 open tabs you can read the title of every tab without scrolling. If you still need more tabs, you can collapse subtrees to keep only the ones visible you are currently using.

    Another advantage: it only takes horizontal space. Hardly any page needs more than 1000 pixels in width, but almost every page scrolls vertically. So on every screen that's 1280 or more in width, the best position for tabs would be on the left or the right side (especially useful on laptops that are 1280x800).

    Combine it with "Tab Mix Plus" and you get an even greater "productivity" boost.

  29. WebDevHobo
    February 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    My Favorite: Tabgroups Manager ->

    Real handy that you can just make it disappear via the right-click menu(right-clicking on the home/refresh button area).

  30. Dave Brown
    February 14, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Faviconize tabs + permatabs mod = Pure win. I constantly have gmail and google reader open and because I've also got the Better Gmail and Better Greader add ons I can see how many unread items are there.

    Also the newest version of Firefox already opens new tabs to the right of the current tab by default. It can be altered in the about:config menu to how it used to be. But seems kinda redundant to disable it and then have an add on that does the same thing.

  31. Andy
    February 14, 2010 at 11:17 am

    #8 Use Opera, one of the first tabbed browsers and has since done a lot more with them.

    • Rajeeva
      February 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm

      Opera is nice, it has "in-built" several of the "firefox add-on" features discussed here

  32. Friday
    February 14, 2010 at 10:37 am

    My favorite Firefox tab-related addon is MileWideBack -

    When your window is maximized, you can move your mouse to any spot on the left edge of the screen and then either use the scroll wheel to move through open tabs or click to go back or forward pages. I use it constantly and recommend it to anyone (except for Mac people.. I haven't been able to get it to work since Mac's don't maximize in the same was as Windows).

  33. Andres
    February 14, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Great tips.
    Tabs shortcut is my favorite. :P

  34. Tiana M. Sanders
    February 14, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Regarding problems with App Tabs...why not use FaviconizeTab instead?

    • Ann Smarty
      February 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm

      Good question. It's just that I wasn't aware of that one - thanks!

      • meteora
        February 15, 2010 at 9:41 am

        I like your productivity tips. I will definitely give a try to all of it. But I think you should give a try to foxtab( [Broken Link Removed] ). I use tabscope( instead of tab preview. Foxtab will allow you to browse/navigate your tabs visually in cool/stylish manner. It also allows you to open recently closed tabs visually. I also liked duplicating tabs but now I don't find it.

  35. JK III
    February 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    App Tabs is actually available on Official Addons site. [Broken Link Removed]

    But unfortunately it did not work for me. Someone reviewed (on the addon's page) that it does not work with Tab Mix Plus. As it is still an experimental addon, I expect this would be corrected soon.

    Then I tried Faviconize Tab, recommended by Tiana; it works great. (Though it would be nice if the tabs would be pinned to one side of the tab bar, as suggested by App Tabs)