Mozilla is looking into bringing Vertical Tabs for Firefox

Ashwin
Feb 23, 2022
Firefox
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39

One of the things that I like about Microsoft Edge, is the option that lets you access your tabs from the sidebar. It appears that Mozilla could add support for Vertical Tabs in Firefox.

Mozilla could bring Vertical Tabs for Firefox

The option, which was introduced about a year ago in Edge, lets you hide the tab bar that normally appears at the top of the window. Enabling the feature creates a sidebar with icons for each tab. Clicking one of the icons switches to the corresponding tab. So, you get the same experience but in a more compact interface.

If you expand the side panel, you will find that it is a more efficient way to manage your tabs. Most websites have a ton of blank space either side of the screen, in my opinion, having a vertical tab bar offers a better experience, because it looks cleaner. Users with large screens or an ultra-wide monitor may find Vertical Tabs to be a blessing.

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vertical tabs in microsoft edge

Ever since Microsoft debuted the feature, Vertical Tabs has been a popularly requested feature by users of other browsers, especially in the Mozilla Firefox community. As far as I know, only one other browser has this feature baked in, Vivaldi. To enable the side panel, head to the Settings > Tabs page, and set the Tab Bar position to the left. You will need to shrink the panel to its minimum size, to get the vertical tabs experience in Vivaldi.

vertical tabs in vivaldi

Mozilla could bring Vertical Tabs for Firefox

Users had voted to request Vertical Tabs for Firefox at the Mozilla Crowdicity community. The feedback portal, which was slow to pick up the pace, is abuzz with activity. A Product Community Manager at Mozilla, has finally responded to the request with good news. He wrote that since the request has emerged as a top idea in the community, it has been reviewed by the developers at Mozilla. They are looking at ways to improve the tab management, and are researching the possibility of adding support for Vertical Tabs in Firefox. This of course does not mean that the feature is certain to be added, which is why I wrote "could" instead of "will".

We don't know what Mozilla's implementation of Vertical Tabs could look like. Hopefully, it's not just a sidebar that auto-hides, we need to hide the tab bar from the top. For now, I think users can rejoice that the option is being explored, and keep our fingers crossed.

Other ways to add Vertical tabs in Firefox

Firefox has a lot of customization options, and there are a few add-ons that let you view and manage tabs from a sidebar, the most popular of which is, of course, Tree Style Tab. There are other alternatives like Tab Center Reborn, personally, I like Vertigo Tabs for its simplicity.

But none of these extensions have the ability to hide the standard tab bar. Why is that? Because, like other programs of its kind, Firefox has APIs in place which allows the user to tweak the interface to their preference. The other side of the coin is that these APIs are limited, and extensions cannot access or modify certain parts of the GUI, due to some restrictions. These rules are in place to protect the user from malicious add-ons, that could otherwise wreak havoc, or hijack the browser.

Now, these restrictions are limited to add-ons, which means there are other ways to modify the browser. Many Firefox users rely on custom CSS code to change the theme of their browser, the new tab page, etc. So, yes you could use one of the scripts to edit the userChrome.css, to hide the tab bar, and use an extension to access tabs from a side panel. Here is a user-created script for Vertical Tabs, and here is a website that has more custom CSS themes for Firefox. Most, if not all, of these scripts are open-source. I advise caution while tinkering with scripts, you may want to take a backup of your tabs, sessions, and data, just in case something goes awry, and you have to reset the browser.

What do you think about Vertical Tabs?

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Mozilla could bring Vertical Tabs to Firefox
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Mozilla could bring Vertical Tabs to Firefox
Description
Mozilla is investigating the possibility of adding support for Vertical Tabs in Firefox
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. owl said on February 23, 2022 at 1:12 pm
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    I can’t say I appreciate this, but I suppose it’s better than mozilla’s established trend of wasting time with useless redesigns and removing features.

  2. Tom Hawack said on February 23, 2022 at 2:00 pm
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    For my concern vertical tabs is an interesting option which would challenge the comfort of my habits but possibly impose itself should I ever try such a browser’s GUI. I have tested in the past dedicated vertical tabs extensions but as mentioned in the article “none of these extensions have the ability to hide the standard tab bar.”, which made me keep this new layout as a confined possibility.

    I do use quite extensively custom CSS : the links you provide, Ashwin, are most welcomed. I may try (doesn’t mean I won’t) a Vertical tabs extension together with a a user-created script for Vertical Tabs to hide the traditional Tab bar. This article revives the idea of discovering a new GUI format. Interesting.

    Of course if the vertical tabs experience proves a definitive preference over traditional tabs’ layout, future versions of Firefox providing a built-in option to do so would be applauded. Whatever, as long as changes are served as options then they’re welcomed, especially if they answer to a community request.

  3. Davin Peterson said on February 23, 2022 at 2:05 pm
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    Microsoft Edge browser already has vertical tabs

    1. Bob B. said on February 23, 2022 at 3:53 pm
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      The first line of this article states this…

      “One of the things that I like about Microsoft Edge, is the option that lets you access your tabs from the sidebar.”

  4. Anonymous said on February 23, 2022 at 3:31 pm
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    in vivaldi if you want to use vertical tab & doesnt want it to look 2 panel like in screenshot above, you can change webpanel location to opposite of vertical tab and vice-versa. i never try resizing vertical tab panel before though, didnt know it could do that.

  5. Tomaz said on February 23, 2022 at 4:06 pm
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    Finally !!!
    I’m using Tree Style Tabs in Firefox for years, could not survive without.
    Firefox should not be a follower in user customization but should differentiate from other browsers with leading UI features.

    Firefox relies too much on addons which are mostly installed by geeks only, but such features can be natively integrated for all users:
    -vertical tabs (as Tree Style Tab)
    -windows/tab backup/restore (as OneTab)
    -automatic tab freeze/unload after X hours open (keep it open, but do not consume memory)
    -multirow bookmark toolbar with control size of icons (as CustomCSSforFx)
    -RSS feeds in bookmarks (as Livemarks)
    -simplified active tab management and sorting in all windows
    -update scanner (as UpdateScanner)
    -productivity tool (as LeechBlock)
    -intelligent screenshot with reduced size for use with sharing (email, slack, …)

    1. Rex said on March 1, 2022 at 12:10 am
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      “Firefox should not be a follower in user customization but should differentiate from other browsers with leading UI features.”
      You’re about 11 years too late. Since version 4 they have been continuously ditching every last feature that differentiated them and mindlessly copying Chrome, starting with the idiotic rapid release and major version numbering. Took them 10 years to get to version 4, and over the next 10 they’re up to 97 or 98 already.
      Time was when they actually supported XUL extensions that could actually extend and fully integrate with the browser UI instead of being lamely limited to tweaking webpages and kludgy user.css hacks. Or you could write your own extension for personal use and run it on the same mainstream build without any extension signing and publishing bullshit. Those days are long gone and only Pale Moon continues their legacy when it’s not being slandered by cretins aka fanboys mindlessly claiming that it’s ‘old’ and ‘insecure’.

  6. Anonymous said on February 23, 2022 at 4:23 pm
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    The Vertical Tabs Reloaded addon removes the tabs from the top of the window.

    1. matthiew said on February 24, 2022 at 4:57 am
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      Really!? I’m going to try it out!

      1. matthiew said on February 24, 2022 at 4:57 am
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        No, it doesn’t.

      2. Anonymous said on February 24, 2022 at 6:22 pm
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        You’re right. I did it so long ago that I forgot it was a userChrome.css setting. There were two things I had to do. First add the following line to the userChrome.css file located in your Firefox profile directory. If it doesn’t exist you need to make one.

        #tabbrowser-tabs { visibility: collapse !important; }

        Then load about:config in the Firefox address bar, search for the following line and toggle it to true.

        toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets

        Restart Firefox and the tabs should be gone.

        I learned this from a couple of ghacks articles:

        https://www.ghacks.net/2017/09/27/tree-style-tab-is-a-webextension-now/

        https://www.ghacks.net/2019/05/24/firefox-69-userchrome-css-and-usercontent-css-disabled-by-default/

        And here is a summary of this technique from StackExchange (although they have changed #tabbrowser-tabs to #TabsToolbar. I haven’t used #TabsToolbar but I know that #tabbrowser-tabs works for me.

        https://superuser.com/questions/1268732/how-to-hide-tab-bar-tabstrip-in-firefox-57-quantum

  7. motang said on February 23, 2022 at 4:51 pm
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    Literally the ONLY reason I like MS Edge. Good looking forward tot his awesome addition in my favorite browser.

  8. anonymous said on February 23, 2022 at 4:53 pm
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    Maybe Mozilla could just work on improving the tabs they’ve already got….?

    1. matthiew said on February 24, 2022 at 4:58 am
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      That’s what they’re doing.

  9. John G. said on February 23, 2022 at 5:00 pm
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    Destroying Firefox essence each day after each day, I can’t be more disagree with this. :[

    1. foolishgrunt said on February 23, 2022 at 5:16 pm
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      Relax troll, nobody is making you use vertical tabs if you don’t want to.

      1. John G. said on February 23, 2022 at 5:49 pm
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        @foolishgrunt oh, the great valiant unknown, please continue using your Chrome browser! :]

      2. Relax said on February 25, 2022 at 1:26 pm
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        John G. is not a troll. Relax foolishgrunt.

    2. matthiew said on February 24, 2022 at 5:09 am
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      This is restoring the Firefox essence. This was literally possible years ago using the TreeStyleTab addon until Firefox dropped XUL extensions. TST had to be rewritten, and now exists without the ability to move the top tabs. This will restore that functionality.

      1. John G. said on February 24, 2022 at 7:21 am
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        @matthiew I meant that this is not the Firefox essence anymore because Firefox didn’t want ever vertical tabs and that was the reason for creating in the past some addons like TreeStyleTab addon. In fact the true modern Firefox “essence” started when Firefox decided to drop those amazing and good XUL extensions and also everything related with them, starting too to drop everything useful for the user. Furthermore, what we see here is how Firefox development team wants to recover such good features we had in the past some years ago because Microsoft Edge has vertical tabs too now. Nothing less and nothig more. :[

  10. Gerard said on February 23, 2022 at 5:10 pm
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    A welcome and useful new option imho.

  11. foolishgrunt said on February 23, 2022 at 5:18 pm
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    I’m a longtime Tree Style Tab user. I don’t expect Mozilla’s 1.0 version of vertical tabs to make me want to switch, but if it comes with the ability to hide the top tab bar without mucking around in UserChrome, I may have to reconsider.

    1. John G. said on February 23, 2022 at 5:54 pm
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      So please, do continue using your Chrome browser in your Linux computer, nobody cares. :D

    2. matthiew said on February 24, 2022 at 5:16 am
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      I am hopeing that Tree Style Tab will work with Firefox’s implementation of the sidebar.

  12. ULBoom said on February 23, 2022 at 5:34 pm
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    Nice if the top tab bar disappears. Max, min and close buttons are up there, though. I’ve always been annoyed by the continuing reduction in vertical space in all browsers; width is rarely an issue except on phones.

    Chromia and Edge are absurd in their use of vertical space and in order to regain the old compact view in FF, I have to use css files; the new compact version in about:config is too big, standard is Chromia gigantic.

    If you’re interested in squishing the top bars, this guy is great at explaining how:
    https://www.userchrome.org/firefox-89-styling-proton-ui.html

    At some point, the max, min, close buttons collapse and the settings I like make the max button slightly rectangular but it’s a big improvement over the new, improved compact mode.

  13. happysurf said on February 23, 2022 at 7:40 pm
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    Much better thinking to implement double tab rows…

    1. piomiq said on February 23, 2022 at 8:31 pm
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      “double tab rows” is very limited, it fits only twice than one tab rows, whereas vertical is able to fix much more, here you can use tree and fold some group.
      And second thing is that vertical tabs doesn’t takes place vertically.

  14. piomiq said on February 23, 2022 at 8:28 pm
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    So Tree Style Tab is not enough. For me works very well.
    To hide horizontal tabs is required some trick with preparing css file and pitting it into user profile directory.
    Seems Mozilla wants to have it as native solution.

  15. plusminus_ said on February 23, 2022 at 8:56 pm
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    https://github.com/tkhquang/userChrome.css/blob/master/Tree Style Tab/TST_tabbar.uc.js

    I found a script that hides the tab bar when Tree Style Tab is visible, and can be toggled using the TST icon, which I have been using quite happily.

    1. matthiew said on February 24, 2022 at 5:20 am
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      I wish I knew how to implement that script. Can you point me in the right direction?

      1. plusminus_ said on February 25, 2022 at 3:59 am
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        I am currently using xiaoxiaoflood’s userChrome.js, available here: https://github.com/xiaoxiaoflood/firefox-scripts#instructions

        to run both scripts such as the TST_tabbar one I previously linked (with a broken link, sorry!) and some bootstrapped extensions – for step 3 I chose the third option.

        The set up is unfortunately a little fiddly, but the functionality it provides is amazing

  16. Trey said on February 23, 2022 at 9:46 pm
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    Thanks Ashwin. I’ve been using vertical tabs in Vivaldi for a bit now. It did take some getting used to but now I can’t go back. There’s much more room on the sides of the browser.

  17. Anonymous said on February 23, 2022 at 11:06 pm
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    Could we have normal tabs again instead? I hate the new round design.

  18. Fred said on February 24, 2022 at 2:10 am
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    Before they fiddle about with vertical tabs, could Firefox give us back the old tabs-at-the-bottom option.

    Many people have been wanting this option back again after the extensions that used to allow them were no longer permitted — that was years ago, and nothing has been done. Apparently there is a CSS method of doing it, which may not work all the rime, and which requires a large amount of code. I’m on Windows 10.

    Please give us first just the simple tabs-at-the-bottom option (and also reduce the vertical height of the tabs). Then look at the more complicated vertical tabs option.

    I have got fed up with Firefox’s little obsessions and restrictions, and mostly gone over to Vivaldi, which allows all sorts of flexibility.

  19. Anonymous said on February 24, 2022 at 5:00 am
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    Good! Vertical tabs is an idea that seems very appealing to me, but the add-ons don’t work for me because I have 8000 tabs right now, and with the limited webext APIs it’s hard for add-ons to handle this quantity in a performant way. A native solution seems the way to go.

  20. Antonio said on February 24, 2022 at 6:41 am
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    IMHO Tab Center Redux is the best addon for vertical tabs.
    Maybe it should be better ho have different addons which makes this possible and concentrate efforts on something else.

  21. John said on February 26, 2022 at 11:27 pm
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    Personally, I do not use and have no desire to use vertical tabs. If a browser implemented them as it’s default with no option to change them back to tabs on top (What I actually use) or tabs on top of the web page display but below the bookmarks bar (The option I would use if it a browser with good web compatibility and others things I like offered it in a cosmetically pleasing way), I would not use that browser.

    *However*, I like that this is included as an *option* for those who like it or might want to try it. Giving users more options and control over their graphical user interfaces is a good thing. Vivaldi’s options-friendly mentality on desktop is why I use it, and Firefox’s mentality used to be similar, and hopefully will return to it over time. A one-size-fits-all browser UI is bad for everyone who doesn’t like whatever UI is currently popular with UI designers, and potentially bad in the future even for those who do like what’s currently popular, as the UI may change to whatever their design team thinks is best down the line, and those users may not like whatever *that* is and find themselves stuck with it.

    So, I’m for the option being present for those who like it, even though it’s not an option I would personally ever use. I will admit that there is some case to be made for it beyond aesthetics, as most modern PC screens have more vertical space than horizonal space, which means from a purely utilitarian perspective, it makes sense to give users an option to fill the space they have the most of to spare rather than the space they have less of to spare- if they want to, as long as it isn’t mandatory.

  22. squiggly33 said on March 1, 2022 at 11:10 pm
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    Vertical tabs are the primary reason I still use Firefox. Having the native feature restored would be great, instead of chasing addons and scripts. Chromium simply can’t handle my large tab workload.

  23. Phil Marshall said on April 27, 2022 at 9:01 pm
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    Tabs on top or tabs on the side, they still take up space. Put the tabs in a drop down icon on the address bar along with the close, max, min button, then make the address bar hide until mouse hover and now the whole page space may be used in fullness.

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