October 24th, 2006

  Firefox 2.0 tab usage and tips

Greetings,
I’m with Lorelle on tab usage. I regularly have between 2-5 windows, each with 30+ tabs. I do it because I’ll be reading an article on something I want to know more about, and I’ll run across an interesting link in the article, but not want to lose the flow of what I’m reading. I’ll middle-click, and continue reading. Once I’m done with that article, I move on to the next link, and the next… I also keep a baseline of about 20 tabs of personal and work stuff (gmail, financials, calendar, development reference, etc.) which never closes.

I used to do this with ‘new windows’ in Netscape 4.x, and I got into a long discussion with a Netscape engineer about my usage patterns (having 40+ Netscape windows open tended to crash it badly eventually), and they acknowledged that the program was unstable under that kind of usage. 🙁 Worse, was that the email reader ran in the same process as the browser, so crashing the browser crashed my mail. Tabs (and Firefox, as a lighter browser) saved my sanity.

I try to never close my browser, and I reboot my computer only every couple of weeks (and that’s only if it’s my Windows box). Happily with Session Saver, I never had to worry about shutting down my browser, as it preserves my tabs and windows. (I miss Session Saver in Safari…)

If you find that Firefox 1.5 is unstable under too many tabs (it worked pretty well for me), get a session saver. It’s a life-saver when your browser crashes and you would otherwise lose 100+ tabs that you clicked to look at later, so you don’t know what the URLs were…

Firefox 2 ships with (x) on each tab. Bleh. Fix it by browsing to:
about:config
Filter for:
browser.tabs.closeButtons
double-click it, and set the value to:
3
You can create it if it doesn’t already exist.)
I recommend the FF2 extension ‘Restarter’, until they add the Restart option into the menu standard, in order to deal better with adding extensions. For the IE7-ish ‘preview’ mode, I’d suggest the extension Showcase, or Reveal if they update that plugin to 2.0.

I’d also suggest turning on session saving for all sessions, by adding configs:
browser.startup.page=3
browser.sessionstore.resume_session=true
Now if only I could revert to the old ‘shrinking tab’ behavior, at least down to a certain width.

Update: You can set this by changing your config options as follows:

browser.tabs.tabClipWidth=35
browser.tabs.tabMinWidth=25
This will set your tab width to 25 pixels minimum, which will let you see a LOT more tabs than the old setting of 100. I chose 35 for the clip width, based on having divided the minWidth by 4, I divided the clipWidth (default of 140) by 4 as well. However, my tab usage often means that I need nothing more than the favicon in the tab to know where I’m going, or I never random-access the tabs, closing one to continue reading at another page.

Anyhow, these have been some power user tips from a dedicated Firefox user.

— Morgan Schweers, CyberFOX!


2 Comments

  1. On Melvin Says:

    Help me please…
    I just installed Firefox 2.0, and all of a sudden, my username/password isn't being inserted in the signon window (it always was before). I tried the usual suspects–I did not mistakenly tell FF not to remember the password for this site; and I also tried the remember password bookmarklet, but all to no avail–FF will not ask me to remember this password. What do I need to do to get around this?


  2. On Cyberfox Says:

    Greetings,
    It’s possible for sites to avoid password autofilling by tricky Javascript and such.

    If it’s happening across all of your login sites, then I’d start by checking Tools | Options and look for the ‘Remember passwords for sites’ checkbox. It might have gotten cleared in the upgrade.

    Then go to the Show Passwords button, and take a look to make sure the site (and the URL) shows up in your password list.

    If none of that works, the only thing to do is gross hackery. Create a Javascript bookmarklet that fills in the password information for you, so it’s at least a single click away. I had to do that for one site for a while, because they used two password fields, and one of them got modified during submission, so even if it remembered it on submission, it wouldn’t work quite correctly.

    I also use the Web Developer Toolbar, which includes a ‘Forms | Enable Auto Completion’ menu item, which sometimes helps.

    I hope this info is useful!

    — Morgan Schweers, CyberFOX!