Mozilla: tabs on bottom feature needs to go

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 26, 2012
Updated • Jul 26, 2012

If you have recently installed the Firefox 15 Beta version on a computer, you may have noticed that it does not ship with an option to display tabs on the bottom anymore. More precisely, an option to uncheck the tabs on top feature which has been the browser's default way of displaying tabs for a while now.

A tabs on top menu option usually becomes available when you click on the Firefox button, and then on the Options menu item in the main menu that opens up. If you do not display the single menu icon you can right-click a blank spot on a Firefox toolbar to see the same set of options.

tabs on top

The change does not affect Firefox users who have updated the browser or are using an existing profile with tabs on bottom. New Firefox users and those installing the browser on a new machine without migrating a user profile still have an option to restore the tabs on bottom feature.

This is now handled using the browser.tabs.onTop about:config parameter. It is set to true by default so that tabs are displayed on top in the browser. Just double-click the preference to set it to false and move tabs below the other toolbars in the Firefox browser.

You may wonder why Mozilla is making the change. According to Frank Yan, it is because of "maintenance costs and usability concerns in relation to current and future UI".

What key Mozilla employees often do not understand in their ivory tower is that these changes may look good on paper but affect users who do not want their browser to change fundamentally. Tabs on bottom has been Firefox's default way of displaying tabs for a long time and there are users out there that use the browser because it gives them the choice to modify the browser to their liking. And if that is tabs on bottom, Mozilla should provide the option as it has done so since the first version of the browser was released.

Taking that away from those users takes away another reason to stick with Firefox. After all, it will eventually look like Chrome with another theme. Firefox users want choice and customizations. Yes, that means that Mozilla has higher maintenance costs than Google has but it also means that Firefox users will keep using the browser because it gives them a choice and options to tinker with the browser UI. (thanks Ken for the tip)


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  1. mikebartnz said on January 12, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Quite frankly I think it was insane of the coders to remove the option to set it out how you want. By being on top it is less visible and as I use it frequently it means moving my mouse further.
    It is as insane as MS Word having ShrinkToFit on the print preview page instead of under the formatting menu.
    I sometimes wonder if some of these programmers ever use their programs in real life.
    I have just done a reinstall of Fedora and none of what previously worked does so now.
    I am getting very tired of change just for changes sake and not for a more usable program.

  2. DT said on April 11, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    Where’d the tabs on “normal” go? Yep, not just one thing would make most leave, but keep a check list of irritations and soon their looking elsewhere, even if it’s a fork like palemoon.

    Why should the address bar, the search bar, the pagination direction buttons, the home button, the menu button be considered part of each and every tab rather than something for all tabs? Seems a little conceptionally odd to me. But then, hey, I was only trying to “fix” someone else’s firefox. There was enough irritations ticked up and google embedded default spying I switched some time ago.

  3. AC said on April 29, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Well, you useless, incompetent, control freaks – you got rid of them. Even the browser.tabs.onTop config item is gone.

  4. Alex said on October 10, 2013 at 4:32 am

    Mozilla has already removed from the context menu option for tabs on the bottom.
    For the time being, you can still enable tabs on the bottom by setting “browser.tabs.onTop” to false in about:config; however, Mozilla is planning to remove that option too!

    If you want don’t want Mozilla to remove it, then PLEASE voice your opinion and write a comment at!topic/ or write an email to the developers who want to remove it:
    name [:IRC] (@twitter) [email-address @], role
    Jared Wein [:jaws] (@weinjared) [jwein @], Software Engineer
    Dão Gottwald [:dao] [dao @], UX Engineer
    Frank Yan [:fryn] (@frankyan) [fryn @], UX Engineer
    Jim Mathies [:jimm] [jmathies @], Software Engineer
    Gavin Sharp [:gavin] (@gavinsharp) [gavin @], Firefox developer
    Justin Dolske [:Dolske] (@dolske) [dolske @], Firefox developer
    Tim Taubert [:ttaubert] (@ttaubert) [ttaubert @], Software Engineer

  5. Frank Blank said on March 23, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I want Menu Bar > Address Bar > Bookmarks Bar > Tabs Bar: immediately above the web page, which is the easiest and quickest spot for my eyes and mouse to flick to. Here, in FF 8, I have it. I should still be able to get it.

    That I can’t, or that it’s become a hassle is simply one more in the 7.3 million demonstrations of developer idiocy. I truly believe that most developers and their product managers have a narrow talent: their minds work well running down one path but it’s extremely difficult for them to see anything not on that path. In other words, talented but a bit stupid.

  6. Andy Mercer said on February 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I can understand the logic that the address and search bar are tab-specific and should be below the tabs. But the favorites bar which I use heavily is NOT tab specific. I could see a compromise, with the Favorites bar on top, then the tabs, then the search/address/forward/barward/etc.

    What I’d really love to see is an overhaul of the customization options. Currently, you can move items around inside those three areas. But you can’t move those three areas except the one setting for tabs on top or bottom. How about using the existing “Customize” option, and letting you drag and drop the entire bars, rather than just the menu items inside those bars, in whichever order you’d like?

  7. CTown said on December 23, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Thanks for the tip. I guess I installed Firefox so long ago I just noticed they removed this feature (I just reinstalled everything).

  8. Rayco said on December 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Have switched back to Safari fo now, can’t work with the Tabs on top.

    It is completely un-natural that way!!!

    The address bar and bookmarks are used LESS, once you have the tabs open that you want you tend to work away with them.

    The address bar and the bookmarks don’t change, it stays the same no matter what Tab you are on.

    Get the Tabs back at the bottom or at least have the option or loose users….

  9. ED said on November 24, 2012 at 6:01 am

    I just Downloaded FF & TB 17. What crap! If I wasn’t forced by forces greater than I I would scrap them. I am so sick and tired of having to waste uncountable time making them look like I want so I can use them without a training course. The script kiddies at Mozilla need to stop mainlining stupidity and get back to serious consideration of features instead of flashing lights and clanging bells. If I have to aske “Where the hell did they put that config setting?” more than twice they have failed.

  10. JK said on September 11, 2012 at 12:15 am

    This reminds me of the whole Gnome 3 debacle. It seems there are a group of individuals maintaining these products that simply don’t give a crap about the user, with the whole, “I know what’s best for you” mentality. Yet another reason to dump Firefox.

  11. Craig said on August 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I have been using Firefox for years and have had many friends switch to it on my advice. Today is a sad day for me as I am no longer using Firefox and moving over to Chrome. With every upgrade in the last year came a new problem. The last straw was after the last update many sites that I use were loading painfully slow. I thought it was my computer. I had to keep reloading to finally get a site to come up. Just for the fun of it I tried Chrome and the was no lag on opening. Then I tried IE, same thing, no lag. Unfortunately IE no longer supports XP so Chrome won by default.

    As Marius says in a post above ” Well Firefox is still the best browser but for how long!” It’s time has come, it’s too bad!

  12. marius said on July 29, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Firefox on 3.6 days had hundred’s of themes,these days there are 10 or 20 that stil work on Firefox 14,I think Firefox wants to renounce it’s configurability!Really I don’t get why this rapid release cycle,it should have been Firefox 4,4.1,4.2 so on!Well Firefox is still the best browser but for how long!

  13. Doc said on July 29, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Go to Firefox -> Help -> Submit Feedback and let them know “Firefox made me sad because…”

    Be sure to mention it’s Firefox 15, and you want the “Tabs on Bottom” feature retained.

  14. pd said on July 28, 2012 at 8:40 am

    “What key Mozilla employees often do not understand in their ivory tower is that these changes may look good on paper but affect users who do not want their browser to change fundamentally.”

    Hallelujah to that!

    The irony is that tabs-on-top was probably brought in on the theory that they were desperate to compete with Chrome. People moved to Chrome ostensibly because Firefox was broken: it was a memory-hogging piece of junk. Now though, one reason people might stay with Chrome is the way it maximises screen real estate by putting tabs in the title bar. Even under Firefox’s new Australis theme, they still haven’t achieved tabs in the titlebar! Ludicrous.

  15. agree said on July 28, 2012 at 2:15 am

    agree with author

  16. Finvana said on July 27, 2012 at 11:29 am

    If Firefox was an OS we could say they are moving from linux freedom to a shrinking Windows/MacOS walled garden. Let the users choose!.

  17. Richard Steven Hack said on July 27, 2012 at 3:57 am

    I never knew you could use tabs on bottom. I’m not sure I’d want to.

    However, in general, it’s clear that ALL the open source projects are utterly uninterested in UI design OR maintaining user satisfaction over DEVELOPER satisfaction. And a lot of open source people think that’s just fine, to boot.

    Over at Google, when users requested Chrome use the native file manager on Linux, Google obliged. Except the native file manager didn’t allow saving the additional files a Web page uses to be displayed properly! Which made Chrome utterly usable for me! You couldn’t save the entire Web page as you would normally. How stupid was THAT decision?! Clearly NO ONE at Google even bothered to consider the consequences for an instant.

    Firefox has this stupid feature checked by default which make Firefox select the folder a page or image is to be saved to in the page/image save dialog based on what directory was used for that Web site previously. Except if you want to save images from MULTIPLE Web sites to the SAME directory, it completely screws you up. Or if you want to save multiple images from the SAME Web site to different directories, it completely screws you up. You have to constantly click around the file system to find the directory you want to save the image in. It took me months to find a Web site that explained how to turn this “feature” off…buried in the “about:config” options.

    And the current version of Firefox is simply unstable as hell. When I use it for a length of time, especially when using Google Image Search, when returning from an image display back to the search results page, sometimes it will display a blank page. If you click forward, it will then redisplay the search results page. Then when you select a new image to display…Firefox crashes.

    I’ve had WAY more crashes with Firefox in the current version than in the last ten versions. They need to do a “feature freeze” and fix the memory leaks and bugs they have on their plate.

    Apparently open source developers believe that listening to end users is not worth their time and if you don’t like it you can just get the hell down the road to some other software. Except they’re ALL like that!

    1. cezi said on July 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      there are addons Save Image in Folder , Save Image in , expanding in r.c. menu your custom choosed folders

      tabs on bottom of course doesn’t mean bottom of your monitor =in status bar/ addon bar, but just above main space for web pages = bottom of all possible bars here

  18. cezi said on July 27, 2012 at 3:36 am

    The more tabs at the same time you have opened and the more close & open , and switching actions you make in a given period of time,the bigger is advantage of traditional position of tabbar.

    Chromification of current browsers= simplification = hiding “more advanced” features =making them gradually less accessible to users ( U don’t see =U don’t use ) seems to be part of planned debilitating of users.
    Also home page with “social sites ” in speed dial will be Default -and preloading at startup– all leads to it ….
    Suggestion “be cool = click on blue FBiOOK ” implied ,(don’t bother yourself seeking not officially “trendy” things )

    The only real argument = unused space on titlebar can (and should be )dealt with
    = moves menu bar into titlebar (merges them)
    It should be in default.
    Earlier (FF2.x-FF3.x ) Mr Tech Tools addon did it.

  19. Uhtred said on July 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    It took a little getting used to, but i’m tabs on top now, as it gives more space on my limited screen… but I think keeping the option (top/bottom) would respect user preferences, and surely can’t weigh down the code that much.

    Everyone has the chance to influence decisions via the developers forums, but few go there, and I think they could do more to gather general public opinion. Why not add short and simple radio button polls to the “you are updated” pages (so everyone sees them), asking if users wish to retain features that they are considering removing in subsequent versions? e.g.

    Keep Option to have tabs on bottom …Yes…No…. Not Bothered

    lots of users may not care to feedback, but if it doesn’t take much more than a couple of clicks without moving off the page, a lot might.

    Listening to customers views is always important

    1. Gsfe K said on April 30, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      It’s hard to believe there are so many stupid people using computers (including ‘Uhtred’) with any degree of ‘success’?? I do agree though that ‘listening to customers is always important’.

      It should be obvious that two lines on the screen take the same amount of space whichever one is shown first. Therefore tabs on top and tabs on the bottom give exactly the same space for everything else to display.

      Not relevant to this comment, I prefer Tabs below. As they always were from the beginning until recently. Which is where I ask. Where does JohnMWhite gets his copies of Firefox from? His submission leaves me wondering. Just how confused is he?

  20. Rahul said on July 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I am using mozilla firefox right from the beginning, and one of the best things about mozilla is, we can customize the web we want, whether by addons, scripts or customization. While i am adjusted to the tabs on top, since i want more web space, there are people, programmers who would like to see the tabs on bottom. Mozilla should not force the features upon us, let them give the option and we customize it our own way.

    I have no contraindication about other browser, neither who is copying what, the best part is, all browsers are now trying to run on same train and giving options to users to select their compartment.

    But i really oppose this feature, they should keep their codebase intact and should give options to users. Let me know martin if there is any petition. I am willing to support my fellow peoples

  21. JohnMWhite said on July 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    The whole ivory tower bit seems rather over the top, but yes, Mozilla really should try to avoid telling their users “we can’t be bothered dealing with it”. They have rapidly depleted their previously significant reserves of good will and have a pretty disgruntled userbase from what I can see. I have to admit, though, I have never in my life seen somebody use tabs on the bottom. I’ve been using FF since version 2 and did not ever see them there. But just because I never see it or use it doesn’t mean it should be removed. Mozilla need all the good will they can get right now, and taking away an apparently beloved feature for no reason other than they don’t want to spend the time dealing with it isn’t the way to encourage people to stick with them.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      I agree that the term is too harsh, but there is certainly a gap between many developers over at Mozilla and the user base, especially the veteran Firefox user base that does not really want the browser to change in certain ways.

  22. Roman ShaRP said on July 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    If there will be some public petition to Mozilla to not remove tabs at bottom mode, – please inform us, Martin. I think there will be many signatories.

  23. Roman ShaRP said on July 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Since I switched from Opera to Firefox in 2008, I always kept my tabs at bottom, it’s more convenient for me to keep them where my taskbar is. Then for years I had them there with TabMix Plus help, and hope that Tabmix Plus will still provide that functionality.

    Dear Mozilla, I just DON’T NEED TABS AT TOP, and if you going to disable that, that means I should look for other browser to switch (may be back to Opera).

    It seems that I was wrong when I did not understand why some users dislike Firefox way since Firefox 4. It seems they were right: concentrating on totally unneeded for us interface Chrome-like improvements (1-button menu, no status bar, now tabs at top) Mozilla DOES WRONG.

  24. Midnight said on July 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    When Mozilla first introduced Tabs on Top, some time ago, it took a while to get accustomed to that feature, but now, I’m fine with it.

    It’s their Browser, so they can decide what features they want to implement and which ones they want to do away with.

    Firefox is a great Browser and the only one that I use!

    1. Dirk Haar said on June 3, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      It’s “our” browser – “they” gave it to “us”.
      If “they” begin to see it as “theirs”, its sort of a company view in the way M$, Apple, Google sees their products.
      If “they” want the browser in a style “they” want, “they” can keep and maintain it for themselves.
      Killing a feature is not a way software is maintained (except you’re M$: side-by-side arrangement of files in Word, e.g.),
      that a way to hobble it.
      Adding an add-on to bring back a feature is annoying, especially if it doesn’t work completely (none brings the sequence title/menu/adress/bookmarks/tabs back!) or you’re in a company with blocks downloading add-ons.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      True, they can do whatever they want, but that is also true for Firefox users who may switch to another browser because of Mozilla’s actions.

  25. ComicHippo said on July 26, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Non related comment – I saw your post on Betanews . Do you work for them also or was it a guest post ?

    1. Midnight said on July 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Betanews can be an informative site, provided the readers avoid Joe Wilcox’s nonsense!
      He doesn’t quite seem to know what he’s talking about, many times!

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 26, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Some of my articles get posted on the site, work there as a Freelancer.

      1. ComicHippo said on July 26, 2012 at 8:16 am

        Ok :-)

  26. Peter (NL) said on July 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I agree with you, Martin !
    Mozilla should keep the choices open for Firefox users. It is getting worse and worse with Firefox … an ugly mixed clone of Opera and Chrome.

    1. Frank Blank said on March 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm


    2. pgg said on July 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      It needs to get slimmed down. Okay, maybe not this feature, but it’s getting heavy. God, I wish there would be two versions for Firefox – one for DEV’s and second one lightweight version, without all these unnecessery features which regular do not use.

  27. alan said on July 26, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Damm…That’s one of the things i do when i install/test firefox..Uncheck tabs on top,and check the bookmarks bar..

    1. pgg said on July 26, 2012 at 9:13 am

      May I ask – why? Because of shorter distance from webpage to tabs?
      I, personally, like very much tabs on top. I want to see page as much as I can and it’s really easy to get used to.

      1. Jerry C said on October 21, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        Tabs on top is UNINTUITIVE. The tabs relate directly to what is open now … much more so than the bookmarks toolbar. Therefore the tabs should be closest to what is open and not farthest from what is open.

      2. Dustin said on June 3, 2013 at 9:57 am

        Whether the tabs are on top or bottom does not have an impact of how much of a page you see. How stupid is your comment? The order items appear on your screen does not change the viewable web page space!

      3. Martin Brinkmann said on July 26, 2012 at 9:55 am

        The beauty of the current system is that Firefox gives you a choice. You like tabs on top, others like tabs on bottom. For me, it is first something that I have been using for the past years in Firefox, and second a feature that is letting me reach the tabs faster.

      4. Roebie said on July 26, 2012 at 9:38 am

        Don’t know about alan, but I do it because it feels more natural to me.

  28. Jojo said on July 26, 2012 at 8:26 am

    As long as Tab Mix Plus continues to support bottom tabs, I could care less what the arse’s over at Mozilla do. They clearly care more about their work level than the user experience.

    P.S. Still happily running 3.6.28. I’ve spent ZERO time over the past whatever time that Mozilla started their rapid release crap having to fix things they took away or broke. :)

    1. Jo said on April 22, 2013 at 10:09 pm

      The problem is that firefox does not respect the changes we make when it updates, which is like every other day.

      You all realize that FF is merely trying to play keep-up with Chrome and ITS absurd version numbering scheme.


      We dont!

      We want a STABLE browser is what we want. You USED TO provide that.

    2. john clas said on July 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      i agree with you on ff updates…too many and too fast. i have been
      been using 11 for some time and find it stable and about

      1. JimT said on July 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

        It is things like this that caused me to switch first to Firefox 10ESR, and then to PaleMoon, I wish they would sit down and design the d*mn product, so that so-called “features” stop showing up, and then disappearing. Drives me crazy!

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