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Tabbed Browsing

Tabs - Just Say NoDouglas Adams once wrote, "Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things."

Well, I must be a little advanced, because I'm already not understanding why it is that the kids do what they do these days. I won't even get into the silliness of using a cell phone to send text messages. No, my rant for today is on tabbed browsing. What's the point?

In my opinion, one of the best things Microsoft ever did was to implement the taskbar, and to make programs like Word give each document its own icon on the taskbar. Say I'm editing a document, and I'm pulling in sections from a few different documents. All I have to do is glance at the taskbar and click once to get to the document I want to copy from, and click once more to get back to the document I want to paste to. And it doesn't matter what any of those documents are. I could be pulling from web pages, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, pdf's, etc. And vice versa, I could be pasting into any of those types of documents. It puts the focus on the documents, making the applications themselves almost transparent.

Now, enter tabbed browsing, and all of a sudden, web pages are organized differently than everything else. It's no longer a quick glance at the taskbar to see what I have open. I have to switch to the browser, first, and then use its interface to see what I have open. I've now increased the number of clicks to get to documents, increased the time to find the documents, and, worst of all, reverted back to a mindset concentrating on applications instead of the documents.

Maybe some people push their browsers harder than I do. I've read of some people who have dozens of tabs open at once to handle the web sites they're visiting. Me, I typically only have between 20 to 30 documents of any kind open at one time. When I start doing some serious browsing during my lunch break, I seldom have more than half a dozen instances of IE open at once, and it's never seemed to be a problem.

I guess I should also mention that I use a handy utility called Taskbar Shuffle. It allows you to drag the icons around on your task bar to organize them however you want. I have no idea why it took a 3rd party to do this, and why it isn't just built into the OS to begin with, but at least it's a simple fix. I also use a pretty big monitor (1920 x 1200), so making my taskbar 3 lines tall doesn't really detract much from the real estate available to programs.

Oh well, to each their own, I guess. I just don't understand all the hubbub over tabbed browsing, when to me it's just an annoyance.

Update 2010-12-04 Okay, fine, I've finally come around. I use my browser now almost exactly like Eric described - related sessions as tabs in the same main window.


I personally like tabs, but I have been using them for awhile now. I generally use them to keep all the pages for a particular topic grouped together. For example I might have one Firefox window open with 5 tabs all relating to tree rings, another window open with 4 tabs that are all blog related, and then another page open with tabs relating to World of Warcraft/gaming.

I also like it because to open a new web page, I just hit the new tab button and then my mouse is already right up at the top to enter the webpage. If I'm opening a webpage from my bookmarks toolbar I just click open in new tab.

One thing I do like about the taskbar is in Vista if you mouse over a taskbar tab it shows a little thumbnail of that window. It's very easy to see specifically which window is which. I was thinking that in vista you can organize the taskbar by clicking and dragging, but maybe its my tabs that do that. I'll have to check when I get to my home computer.

Of course if they bother you then you could always disable tabs. It will just go back to the way you were doing it before. Are you using Firefox yet? I like it because it's so customizable. My favorite addon gets rid of all advertizements on the page. Never even loads them. I actually get a little disoriented when webpages have adds on them now.

*when I use another persons computer.

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