Please Mozilla, Let Me Disable Firefox Panorama

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 11, 2010
Updated • Feb 26, 2015

I may be a bit old fashioned when it comes to changes in new versions of my favorite web browser Firefox. This can be partly attributed to years of working with a particular feature, only to find it completely revamped in a new version.

Don't get me wrong, if a feature makes sense from a usability point of view I'm all for it. But the Firefox developers lately seem to have concentrated much of their energy on making changes to the graphical user interface and the interaction within the browser.

Tabs on top, removal of the menu and status bar come to mind. All have in common that it is up to the user to use the new layout or switch back to the old one. Even the removed status bar can be replaced with the newly invented add-on's bar. Users who like to keep things as they are are satisfied and as are users who embrace the change.

Firefox Panorama on the other hand is completely different. The new feature was renamed twice already, from Tab Candy to Tab Sets to Panorama. What does it do?

Panorama allows the user to create groups of tabs and work solely with those groups in the browser.

Instead of 10 open tabs all the time, a user could create two groups with five tabs each. This obviously makes the most sense if tabs can be distinguished in groups. Users who work on one project, and users who do not open more tabs than they have visible space in the tabbar may not profit that much - if at all - from Panorama.

Panorama can be a great feature if you open many tabs in the browser (so that the tabbar shows scroll controls), to switch between different projects in the browsing session.

But Panorama is active all the time. Even for users who do not want to work with it. Some might say that those users should simply ignore Panorama and live with it. The problem with that is twofold.

First, there is the chance that a user accidentally launches Panorama with Ctrl-Space. That may not happen very often but the possibility is there.

Second, it happened that I accidentally activated Panorama in the browser without pressing the hotkey. It was for instance triggered after I restored a previously closed tab. What happened? Only the previously restored tab was shown in the browser window. All other tabs that I was working with were hidden by the feature and I had to go into the configuration of Panorama to merge the tabs into one group. I have no idea how those things happen. It may be related to the beta state of the browser.

An option to disable Panorama however would prevent all the problems associated with it right away. Panorama for me is a nice gimmick, like jumplists in Windows 7 or Ctrl-Tab to show visual thumbnails of all open tabs in the Firefox browser. And as such, I would like an option to disable it permanently as I will never ever use it (unless I'm forced to, if it can be triggered accidentally).


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  1. sk said on September 20, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Eh, all the big name browsers are crap now, so bloated with useless ‘features’ that are so wonderful the designers don’t even bother to build in ways to disable them.

    It’s gotten so bad that I honestly think I would pay for just a basic browser.

  2. Ted said on June 12, 2012 at 11:25 am


  3. nmn said on August 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I start to become tired by the new crappy “features” firefox adds every release. Maybe it’s time to go back to Opera.

  4. axan said on January 24, 2011 at 7:26 am

    i consider myself somehow “a geek” and i absolutely do NOT like panorama – it’s a headache for me. i use multiple browsers so i too often accidentally hit ctrl-E what until now worked just as ctrl-K. this gets me to another issue, shortcut configurability – why not configurable?!
    also, the ctrl+shift+t undo closed tab opens in new panorama view BUG didn’t help much (it will be fixed in b10 i think).
    tab grouping seemed like a good idea, but doesn’t make sense to me if there is no information about my other groups onscreen all the time and moreover i didn’t found an ability (yet?) to switch between groups via keyboard shortcut (mouse kills my workflow in this respect). so for me panorama – it’s absolute annoyance in the end.

  5. Jauhari said on January 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I like Firefox Panorama

  6. Gavin said on January 3, 2011 at 7:07 am

    I love Panorama. I just seem to accumulate many open tabs, and it’s nice to be able to put them in groups and forget about them until later. Firefox is running faster for me than it ever has, so I don’t think anyone can complain about it being a resource hog. It will be much more efficient in the core than it would in an extension.

    Go Firefox!

    1. Tim said on January 10, 2011 at 5:55 am

      I really like the look of Panorama. Time will tell though as a I begin to play with it. But I currenly have 137 tabs open in Firefox 3 (in multi-row format using a tab add-in). That’s typical for me, so I think I really need Panorama !

  7. Adam said on December 30, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    I am 100% agree with the article and almost everybody: Martin, Venkat, Yoav, Transcontinental, Anónimo (October 12, 2010), smaragdus, etc.

    Ideally this function comes out and if somebody want it, can to add it the extension.

    I think Panorama is something unhelpful, only a toy for play and not a improves real to usability, rather the opposite. Not to mention the increase in resource consumption. Rather we should want a Firefox lighter, not a heavier Firefox.

    Mozilla should correct the course, seems very focused on the interface, in the ornaments and not what really makes missing.

    I hope there is no problem because I say these things here. Say it in Mozilla forum was reason to be banned.

  8. Alan said on December 20, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I like Panorama, but now I need all my tabs in a single Window for a while. How do I temporarily turn off grouping?

    The Panorama button should have a context menu, allowing choice of any existing group (wihtout going to the layout window) and allowing suspension of grouping (i.e., display all tabs).

  9. McFly said on December 18, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    If Panorama is forced upon me in the final release, then byebye Firefox it is.

  10. GreenReaper said on December 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Actually it’s pretty clear that TabCandy does use quite a bit of memory per tab:

    I think it should be made possible to disable the feature, even if just through a switch.

  11. dF said on November 12, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Give me CTRL+E back!!
    Or Mozilla give us ability to modify shortcuts to our needs!!!

  12. dude said on November 11, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Hear hear. I’ve taught myself to use CTRL+E because that’s what IE uses, and now Firefox throws this crap at me.

  13. Leslie Satenstein said on October 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I rather they fixup the short lockout problems when a site is responding, but not fast-enough. In that case firefox input is stacked. Also at times a long time is spent on compacting memory after a few websites have been visited.

    So annoying,…

    PS I have dual core e7300 Intel processors and same problem is with Windows or Linux

  14. evenorbert said on October 16, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    I have an average computer, and I’m using Mandriva Linux with Firefox 4 nightly for about a month now.
    It’s fast, one time I used it with 50 tabs and about 6-8 groups without a problem. I think it is a great and useful feature.

  15. BalaC said on October 13, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Martin, the problem your are facing might be a bug in panaroma itself. Already i have seen so many bugs under their bugzilla report which shows the tabs gets vanished under different circumstances. I am so much used to panaroma (This is my personal view as i used to see more than 20 tabs and i have a small screen resolution and this feature saves me from opening more windows). But, what you expected is a perfectly valid point. There must be a option to disable/enable things which gets added.

  16. Lester said on October 13, 2010 at 3:11 am

    Hmm… Not much of a Panorama hater myself but still FWIW… Have you tried fiddling with the tab entries in about:config? There’s quite a few of them and they’re not all very well documented [since this is still beta stuff] but they apply immediately so changing them 1 by 1 should be doable.

    My 0.02Eur.

    1. Martin said on October 13, 2010 at 10:42 am

      At least in Beta 6 there does not seem to be any. It may be a new one that you have to add manually, but a search did not reveal anything.

  17. Mark said on October 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    FYI Panorama will NOT slow down firefox by any measurable or noticable amount
    It does NOT generate tumbnails while you are browsing.
    Open firefox
    Open 7 (or more) tabs, (all displaying a different website)
    Click the Panorama button
    Panorama starts generating the tumbnails.
    If it generated the thumbnails while you are browsing then it wouldn’t have to do this.

    If you are concerned about accidentally clicking the panorama button then just remove it from the tab bar.
    Right click toolbar > Customize > Drag button into window.
    You can do the same thing with other buttons like the new tab button and the “all-tabs” button (the drop arrow) because the tabbar is now just another toolbar that any button can be placed on.

    Also, a multitude of Panorama bugs have been fixed, and it has become faster since Beta 5 came out. (Beta 6 was just Beta 5 repackaged with a single bugfix)

    It’s interface has improved as well. (Button to escape from it, search, etc)

    1. Martin said on October 12, 2010 at 11:19 pm

      While that is reassuring Mark, I have to say that it slows me down. Happened today again that some tabs vanished from my tab list after restoring a closed tab. I had to open the damn Panorama screen to move them back into the group. Again, it may be a bug that has been fixed, but unless Mozilla starts releasing new betas I’m not going to upgrade. Lets hope the issues get fixed, or that they add the disable option. What’s so hard about that anyway?

  18. Some Guy said on October 12, 2010 at 2:32 am

    Just in case you all forgot what beta means before complaining of bugs.

    Whine about it when its released, and still misbehaves.
    Honesty, i do wonder about the mentality of some readers here.

  19. smaragdus said on October 12, 2010 at 1:58 am

    New Firefox4 is just terrible, terrible interface, terrible functions (Panorama is the worst one), crashy, heavier, slower, highly uncustomizable, uglier. The Firefox developers are doing their best to force users switch to Opera, Chromium, Safari. I wonder why they have decided to ruin the best browser. I will export my bookmarks and switch to Opera or Chromium. Firefox 4 is a disaster and very soon its market share will diminish radically.

    1. anon said on October 12, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      That is why it is called a beta. The idea is to let you tell them directly what you do or don’t like about it before the declare it final. Might be more productive if you send them a comment directly.

    2. ReX said on October 12, 2010 at 2:52 am

      So you’re complaining about beta/trunk versions crashing? Is that right?

  20. Ethan said on October 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Knowing how much complexity can be added to the code just to implement a preference to disable Panorama so that people don’t sometimes, maybe, accidentally activate it, I don’t think it’s worth it. I think a better option would be a small extension to disable the hot key.

    No malice or ill-feelings intended here, but I am baffled how something that has absolutely revolutionized my browser can be seen by others as a “nice gimmick.” I put myself through the pain of using very early developmental builds of Firefox with Tab Candy just so I could make use of it as soon as possible. It renewed my faith in Mozilla, and brought my attention to the fact that they have taken Aza Raskin on as Creative Lead, which bodes well for Firefox’s future.

    1. Anonymous said on October 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm

      For those of us that will never have a need for something like Panaroma, it is just extra bloat, A.K.A nice gimmick.. I can’t even see a place were it would be needed really. If I have tabs open I want them available instantly, which is why Panaroma, tab controls, sliding tabs are all bad ideas to me, thus I use a tab extension to keep all tabs visible in stacked rows. If need separately grouped tabs for a project that is what a second browser instance is for.

  21. BobbyPhoenix said on October 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I agree also. If you make a new feature you should at least tell people about it first, and give the option to turn if completely off. Panorama I would never use. Nor do I use CTRL+Tab, but I do use the jumplists in W7 very often. I have all my stuff pinned. Saves me a ton of time looking for a document. Very useful feature. Nice write up.

  22. Transcontinental said on October 11, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with the absurdity of imposed choices, which moreover have grown God knows how in the mind of programmers motivated by God knows what. To take into consideration what is obviously successful in other browsers is one thing, it’s called respect of progress, but to elaborate complicated gadgets for the fun of a few is nonsense, in my opinion. We are talking of browsers, not of space shuttles, keep things simple and reserve elaboration for what we all want : speed, little cpu, little RAM. Let extensions do the remaining.

    1. Jake said on October 29, 2010 at 8:40 am

      Actually I was thinking how to totally delete it instead of disable it. Can anybody do that since it’s open source?

  23. Yoav said on October 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    If I want to work on 2 different projects I just open 2separate windows. That works pretty well.

  24. venkat said on October 11, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    @ Martin
    keyboard shortcut for Panorama is changed Ctrl+space is old one new one is Ctrl +E in Windows Cmd+E on Mac and Linux :)
    Panorama is too deeply integrated in Firefox 4 that if Panorama doen’t function properly there will be huge problems for Firefox .
    Anohter reason to disable tab Candy it may well turn out to be resource hog and will be added burden for Firefox it does need to live update thumbnails of all opened tabs.
    Mozilla should reveal from the feedback they got through feedback button from beta users that how much percent of users actually used Panorama.
    Panorama may be for much useful for geeks and users who opens more than 20 tabs in firefox
    What do you say?.

    1. Martin said on October 11, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      Venkat, thanks for that. I’m running the latest beta and its Ctrl-Space there. They may want to consider to add an option to change the shortcut. I agree that it is likely that only a minority of Firefox 4 users will make use of Panorama.

      1. venkat said on October 11, 2010 at 3:13 pm

        Actually new shortcut presently works in nighties and will work in upcoming beta 7 also confirmed by Aza Raskin also
        sorry I can not explain all this in comment :)
        check this

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