New tab control similar to popups

Much has been done to corral popups but new tabs get trashy quickly, then problems can arise on closing when focus is reselected. An optional tooltip to allow a new tab when default behavior is preferable would be great - just follow the link like browsers used to do. Otherwise, when it’s suspected, you have to Copy Link Location then Paste and Go to thwart the profligate tabbing. Open most anything in New Tab is available, this is the contrapositive, maybe.

(Note: this comment is for desktop versions of Firefox - Windows, Mac, Linux)

Firefox has preferences to divert new windows to new tabs instead (new tabs instead of new windows). Firefox also can bet set to disregard sites’ instructions to use a new window and simply open a link in the same tab. In that case, you can still direct a link to a new window or tab using the right-click link context menu. If you would like to experiment, take a look at the following:

(1) In a new tab, type or paste about:config in the address bar and press Enter/Return. Click the button promising to be careful or accepting the risk.

(2) In the search box above the list, type or paste neww and pause while the list is filtered

(3) Review/Adjust the preferences as follows:

(i) - for links in Firefox tabs

This is the one that has a checkbox on the Preferences page:

  • 3 = divert new window to a new tab (default)
  • 2 = allow link to open a new window
  • 1 = force new window into same tab <= Try this one

(ii) - for links in Firefox tabs

By default, if a page sets width, height, or toolbars for a popup, Firefox will let it be a separate window. To force those into a tab as well, you can change this preference to 0:

  • 0 = apply the setting under (A) to ALL new windows (even script windows with features)
  • 2 = apply the setting under (A) to normal windows, but NOT to script windows with features (default)
  • 1 = override the setting under (A) and always use new windows

(iii) - for links in other programs

If you set all internal links to overwrite the current tab, you probably want to set the preference for external links to use a new tab or new window to avoid external links replacing the current page:

  • -1 = apply the setting under (A) to external links (default)
  • 3 = open external links in a new tab in the last active window <= Try this one
  • 2 = open external links in a new window
  • 1 = open external links in the last active tab replacing the current page

To return to normal if things go haywire, right-click each “modified” preference and choose Reset.


Configuration excitement should be restored to the popup issue also. It is dreadfully boring to answer that a site should receive popup service or that it should be shown this time, when a trip into the configuration at every turn would suffice just as well!

Opening links is lifeblood to the web and shouldn’t involve frequent configuration changes. When a link is written to open a new tab, the mouse pointer could morph into a tooltip similar to the arrow often seen that indicates a link opens a new window. Clicking normally would play through, clicking the context button, defaulting to right-click, would execute the new tab suggested by the page author. Occasional per-page reversal would be appropriate for email, where in-message links usually open a new tab so as not to wreck the skyscraper that is a browser email page. Simple? Click-through with standard click even though there’s the tooltip, or “right” click in the presence of the tooltip, et voila the new tab opens the link as written. Why is this an issue? Some sites write every link to open a tab, just as some used to always popup until that was thwarted. Still, right clicking on a standard link would bring up the well-known context menu. The tooltip feature could be suppressed in toto in the configuration by default or offered by default, by choice of the committee. As with popups, some specification of site(s) should be available to reverse the behavior, as with an email behemoth, so as not to crash the china shop.
Currently, without this feature, the gut feeling that “This guy is getting trashy” has to be honored so one “right” clicks to Copy Location and visits the address bar to Paste and Go to suppress all the tab openings.

preferences => configuration

Hi Mozilla Firefox and JScher2000.
Re the “Open links in a new tab” control on Firefox pages and related discussions.

  1. I PROPOSE Firefox adds a switch in Settings/General:Tabs to set the Default (On or Off) for the “Open links in a new tab” control. I find this control works ok if used, but is annoying that it’s current default is On. [If I knew how to make this a development proposal easily, I’d have done that, but Mozilla seem to have made that Very messy and inaccessible!!! ]
  2. The “fix” offered using about:config and etc… is too long and messy to use in practice.
  3. In my view, whether links open in a new Tab, Window or etc. should Always be the choice of the User, regardless of any server side code. It’s never the right of the web developer to dictate to the user how they prefer to use their browser!
    Regards, IanBJ

Firefox generally follows web standards in supporting the target attribute on links and in the script function. The ability to divert new windows to new tabs instead (which is enabled by default) and the popup blocker, are the standard exceptions that Firefox and other browsers offer.

As noted earlier in this thread. Firefox does have an option to override those standard features and force links to open in the same tab ( => 1) but in my experience doing support for over a decade, hardly anyone asks for this. For that reason, I don’t think it will be added to the Settings/Preferences page.

Hi JScher2000, and thank you for your response.

“Hardly anyone asks for this.” : Not surprising - it was for many years the default that Firefox opened links within the same page (unless you deliberately selected otherwise). The “Open links in a new tab” control that now appears on the Tab top is pretty new. And I’m not the only one who’s said they don’t like the new behaviours. Some have even suggested they’ll change browser!

Web standards tend to be developed by developers – not Users. I assert again that the behaviour of the browser should be owned by the User, not the web page developer. I.e. in this scenario the User should decide whether links open in their current tab or a new one or a new window, not the web developer.

Actually, no, following web standards has been consistent from the start. You may have edited the preference in about:config, or you may have been using Tab Mix Plus or another extension that override the target attribute and/or