Define when Firefox opens a new tab from the location bar

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 19, 2013
Updated • Apr 19, 2013
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

When you type in a web address into Firefox's location bar it gets loaded in the same tab, and when you enter a search term instead, say technology news, this too is processed in the same tab. This is not all that convenient for some users, and some help themselves by opening a new tab page before they enter a web address or search term into the browser's address bar, while others install extensions that help them define when Firefox should open a new tab to load location bar inputs.

Another option is to make a change on Firefox's about:config page to change the value of the preference to true so that searches are opened on new tab pages automatically.

The lightweight Firefox extension New Tab from Location Bar takes this a step further. It enables you to define how Firefox opens searches and web addresses that you enter into the browser's location bar.

The extension will open everything that you enter into the location bar on a new tab unless you are already on a blank tab page. It will furthermore load the page as a child tab if it is part of the same website. This is determined by the domain that you are currently on so that subdomains are by default defined as the same website.

firefox new tab location bar

You can modify the behavior that the extension makes available in the options. There are four configuration options that you can tweak:

  • Define when Firefox loads the input on a new tab page: always, only if it is a different website, never.
  • Define where the tabs are opened: always as child tabs, as child tabs only if it is the same website, or always as independent tabs.
  • Determine whether same website is based on the site's domain name (so that subdomains are included), or host name (so that they are identified as different websites).
  • Do not open a new tab page if the current page shows a 404 not found error message.

The extension may improve your browsing experience when you are using the browser. It is not as sophisticated as Tab Mix Plus or another full blown tab add-on for the browser, and many users may probably prefer those or the manual options outlined above for that instead.


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  1. Julia said on April 20, 2013 at 3:14 am

    Thanks, Martin, for your quick clarification!

  2. Doc said on April 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    SearchLoad Options also allows all new searches (from the searchbox) to open in a new tab, without having to tinker with about:config (some people will be reluctant to mess around in there; it’s like the browser’s “registry.”) It’s lightweight and will also allow you to clear the searchbox after x seconds (if the search box isn’t active), load new searches in a foreground or background tab, and reset the search engine to whatever search engine you prefer after x seconds…all features I like.

  3. Karl J. Gephart said on April 19, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Tab Mix Plus is a winner (a little heavy on resources). Of course, for those using Google Search, the open in a new window (tab) option is available in the search settings page,

  4. jimbo said on April 19, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Thought it worth mentioning +ALT opens a new tab.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

      Good point, thanks for mentioning that.

      1. Julia said on April 20, 2013 at 2:50 am

        Am I misunderstandig sth here? To open a new tab I use Ctrl + T.
        Or open Address in New Tab Alt + Enter – from Location Bar or Search Bar

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on April 20, 2013 at 3:03 am

        Julia, it is for users who want to automate this so that they do not need to hold down Alt while entering an address or search in the address bar, and users who want more control over where that new tab opens up.

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