FireFox Screen Space Tweaks – Tree Style Tab

FirefoxIf you are an internet power-user / info-maniac, chances are that you use Firefox as your primary browser, and if you have been a Firefox user for a few months, your have undoubtedly installed a bunch of add-ons and plugins that are now a part of your life. These Add-ons are constantly vying for screen real estate and leaving you on the constant lookout to use the few million precious pixels on your screen(s) more effectively.

In the next few posts, I will be sharing tips to make better use of your Firefox screen space and maximize your viewing area – let us begin by taking a good look at the default tab bar.
Tabbed browsing is the best thing that has happened to us since sliced bread – and yet, the Firefox default tabs bar is pretty much useless when you have 50+ pages open in the window. Here is the evidence:
FireFox Default Tabs Bar

Notice that each tab ends up getting just enough room for a favicon and a single word from the page title – not very useful if you have to Ctrl+Tab repeatedly to find a particular web page, or when you have to locate and click the tiny left / right scrolling arrows to navigate amongst them. If you use a wide-screen monitor, you must have noticed that most of the websites are optimized for a 4:3 screen, and end up with a lot of wasted space containing nothing but a background color.

Enters ‘Tree Style Tab’ to the rescue! This deceptively simple, yet a must-have FireFox Add-on solves all of the problems listed above and enhances your browsing experience many-fold by putting those wasted pixels to good use. It also frees up screen space for Add-on toolbars and organizes your tabs in a more coherent way – singlehandedly!

Here’s a screen shot of the same browser featured above – with Tree Style Tab enabled:

Firefox Tree Style Tabs In Action

So how does Tree Style Tab suddenly improve your relationship with Firefox? It does so by:

  • Freeing up the space taken up by the default horizontal tab bar for more toolbars or text.
  • Utilizing the pixels on the right or left side of the browser that would have been wasted otherwise.
  • Presenting more tabs on the screen simultaneously than the default tab bar can. We can now see all open tabs and still have room to spare for more!
  • Showing more text per tab – The tab titles are almost completely visible, and you can differentiate different pages from the same website easily.
  • Creating an automatic hierarchy (yes, that’s where the ‘Tree’ in its name comes from) of your tabs. Each link that you “Open in New Tab” becomes a child of the parent page. Like a mindmap, your click-stream information can be reused by you, thanks to this automatic arrangement.
  • Letting you close a bunch of related tabs with a single click.
  • Letting you expand or collapse any branch of the tree if you still need more room, as evident from the screen shot.
  • Giving you more area to drag-drop links to. This useful feature is not so evident until you use it.
  • Letting you scroll through the list of tabs by using your mouse-wheel in the tab area.

There aren’t many FireFox Add-ons available that enrich your online experience this much in a single package. With only 115,000 downloads todate, Tree Style Tab is still undiscovered, something that I hope this post will change. If you decide to try it out, do share your experience in the comments. Install Tree Style Tab directly or from the FireFox Addons site.

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