Tile Tabs for Firefox: Letting You Use The Full Potential Of Your Wide Screen

Erez Zukerman 09-04-2013

There’s a reason the new Chromebook Pixel What Do You Think Of The Chromebook? [You Told Us] The Chromebook has been with us since the end of 2010, when Google introduced a prototype of the new form factor that was never put up for sale. In 2011 the first commercial Chromebook devices... Read More , an expensive high-end machine, uses a 3:2 aspect ratio rather than widescreen 16:9. It’s because the Web is vertical. Webpages scroll up and down, but most of us have widescreen machine these days. As a  result, most websites have generously proportioned margins – basically, just wide swaths of blank background, showing nothing.


Sometimes that’s nice, but sometimes you might want to use all of those pixels more productively. Tile Tabs [No Longer Available] is an add-on for Firefox letting you arrange tab contents side-by-side for maximum information density, making every pixel count.

A Word About Tiling

Tile Tabs for Firefox is far from the first to come up with the concept of tiling. I’ve been using WinSplit Revolution Divide Your PC Monitor Into Multiple Screens With WinSplit Revolution Read More for years now to tile my windows side-by-side in preconfigured layouts. We’ve also covered Notion Which Linux Desktop Environment Best Suits Your Personality? What kind of computer user are you? Do you leave icons scattered across your desktop? Do you prefer to work in one uncluttered application? Let's find out which Linux desktop environment suits you best. Read More , a tiling window manager for Linux, as well as several tiling tools How To Take Advantage Of Your Widescreen Apple Display [Mac OSX] I didn't realize until I unpacked my 27" iMac just how much screen real estate I had to work with. Sure, it looked large in the store, but opening numerous applications and windows on it,... Read More for Mac OS X.

In other words, if you’re looking to tile window in general, the tools are most definitely there. But if you’re looking for a Firefox-specific solution, Tile Tabs offers a compelling level of customization and power.

As Simple Or Complex As You Wish

In this tiny screenshot you can see Tile Tabs in its most simple incarnation, placing two tabs side by side:

widescreen monitor tips


The divider between the tabs can be dragged to resize the tile. You can create far more complex layouts, too:

using wide screen monitors

By playing with the context menu shown above, I was able to quickly create this layout:

using wide screen monitors


I certainly don’t recommend this sort of insanity for regular use, but the point is that you’re only limited by your creativity here. Actually, that’s not quite right – one of Tile Tabs’ few limitations is that it won’t let you drag tiles around. You can resize their borders, but lets say I wanted to drag the top-left Wikipedia tile above and put it on the top-right part of the window – there’s no easy way to do that. It’s possible by creating a new tile on the top-right of the window, moving the site there, and then closing the previous tile.

This clunky scenario can be avoided by a bit of forethought – by planning your layout in advance and keeping it visually balanced, you’d be able to avoid moving panes around.

Synchronized Scrolling & Other Goodies

The Tile Tabs menu offers a wealth of options, including synchronized scrolling:

using wide screen monitors


Synchronized scrolling (Sync Scroll, above) is a useful feature, but it’s a bit finicky: To synchronize scrolling, two tiles must share one full border. This setup works for synchronized scrolling:

widescreen monitor tips

But this one doesn’t, at least along the main vertical split:

widescreen monitor


The second layout does let you sync scroll between the top-left and bottom-left panes – again, because they share one complete border. Tricky, but once you get the logic, it becomes clearer.

Another neat feature is zoom-to-fit: By pressing Ctrl+Shift+< once, you can instantly shrink the current pane so that its content fits its width. Press Ctrl+Shift+< once more, and all panes will shrink to fit their dimensions. Ctrl+Shift+> reverses the effect. You can also expand the panes as needed.

If you’d like to quickly allocate some more space for a certain pane, just hit F2. The pane will expand to fill a larger part of the window (or the whole window, depending on your layout). If it doesn’t fill the whole window and you want to expand it even further, another tap on F2 would do the trick. And when the time comes to restore your layout….you got it – F2 yet again.

Saving and Restoring Layouts

Once you find a layout you like, you can save it for later:

widescreen monitor tips

You can save just the layout, or save both the layout and the content of each pane. You can’t assign shortcuts for layouts, but that makes sense as you likely won’t be switching layouts very often.

It’s An Acquired Taste

I can certainly see why Tile Tabs made it into our list of Best Firefox Addons The Best Firefox Addons Firefox is famous for its extensions. But which addons are the most useful? Here are the ones we think are best, what they do, and where you can find them. Read More . It’s powerful, flexible, and integrates well with the browser. That said, it’s not something every user is going to need. If you often find yourself wanting to fit more information onto your screen, it’s the add-on for you.

If you do give it a try, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Does it work well for you? What’s your favorite feature? Let me know below!

Related topics: Mozilla Firefox, Tab Management.

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  1. TornZero
    April 11, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Opera has this built in.

  2. Doc
    April 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    "There’s a reason the new Chromebook Pixel, an expensive high-end machine, uses a 3:4 aspect ratio rather than widescreen 16:9." The Pixel's screen is 2560 x 1700; from Google's page: "[A] 3:2 photographic format designed for the web puts every one of those pixels to good use."

    • Erez Zukerman
      April 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Thanks Doc! Post updated.

  3. Scott M
    April 10, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I'm using allinonesidebar and love it.This app has potential but I find it still buggy and look forward to a few fixes before I begin to use it.

    • Muz RC
      April 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      thanks for the information, gonna test it after the bugs has been fixed

  4. Nevzat A
    April 10, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Another excellent extension. I love quality extensions, first, "All-in-one sidebar", and now this! My firefox is getting stronger and more functional each day. Thanks Erez and MUO!

  5. Angi Grayham
    April 10, 2013 at 4:33 am

    Is there something like this for Chrome? I think it would be a good addition!

  6. Jeremy Garnett
    April 9, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    This is great!. I use dual widescreens, one of which is vertical, purely for editing documents and minimised scrolling of websites. In Firefox, I've been using 'Split Pannel' and the open in tab option in 'Download Manager Tweak' to display my downloads at the bottom on the screen. Split Pannel is limited in function, with a manual layout for every session. With Tile Tabs, I'll not only be able to have a downloads section, but also have tiles along the margins, with my procedural websites viewable. Is there a similar extension in Chrome? I run that on my other screen for browser comparison

    • Erez Zukerman
      April 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Not that I know, I must say. But that doesn't mean there isn't one. :)

      • Jeremy Garnett
        April 14, 2013 at 6:40 am

        Thanks anyhow

  7. Chris Marcoe
    April 9, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Just loaded up Tile Tabs. First thing I notice is: I have to scroll left and right to see the whole page. After looking through the settings, it doesn't look like I can set the size to "Fit to screen" like is, say, Word.

    Is there, by chance, a way to fix this that I haven't seemed to find?

    Great article, though. If I could get the fit withing the borders, It'll be a keeper.

    • Chris Marcoe
      April 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      And, when I scroll to the right on MakeUseOf, the top info bar (with my name points, and all that other stuff) does not scroll and I can't see my name or anything that is on the right side...

      • Erez Zukerman
        April 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm

        Hey Chris,

        When you zoom out (Ctrl + mouse wheel) does the page not shrink enough so you can fit it all in? There's also a keyboard shortcut for that: Ctrl+Shift+< (zoom-to-fit, above). Does that not work for you?

        • Chris Marcoe
          April 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm

          That did, in fact, fix it. Everything is pretty small now, though. But, I'm at school and the monitor is kinda small.

        • Chris Marcoe
          April 10, 2013 at 2:13 pm

          And...when I close down the tiles, the font pitch stays small. It doesn't reset. On pages that I haven't zoomed in on, it stays larger, but even after closing down the MUO page and bringing it back up, it still shows the small size from when it was tiled and fit the tile.