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Problems with Tabbed Web Browsing (And How I Wish I Could Experience Them Now)

As I continue do the work that I would do with this blog without the ability to use my own personal computer, I continue to look for work to do once I am able to use my computer once again. I have spent the more limited time in which I have been able to access the web looking for ideas on what to write and on what my next software project should be. In fact, I have spent so much time focusing on the content of my blog posts and on the software that I work on that I have made general maintenance of this blog a lower priority than it should have been. And after making a few overdue updates to the sidebar of this blog, I now write about a topic that I have thought about before, although I have not thought about it as much until recently. This topic is the topic of issues associated with tabbed web browsing. And it was after viewing this entry on Lifehacker that I was reminded why I ever gave some thought to this topic. It describes a common problem that tends to occur when many browser tabs are open, and one interesting approach to solving this problem, leading me to consider other possible approaches to it.

When I look back on the first time that I was able to use separate tabs within a web browser, I, like many others who had discovered tabbed browsing for the first time, thought tabbed browsing was a great idea. It changed the way in which many users browsed the web. Previously, I never would have thought that there would be a time that I would have literally dozens of web pages open at a time. However, I have found that there are not many times that I have fewer than a dozen browser tabs open in my browser at once. And having so many web pages open is something that never would have happened if I needed to open these web pages in separate browser windows.

However, as is often the case with useful innovations, issues associated with these innovations arise. And one such issue is one that occurs when, as is often the case, many tabs are open at once. What I often find happens is that I would like to have the ability to later recover the information on what was in each browser tab at a particular time. Sometimes I would like to ensure that I am able to continue from where I left off in case my browser or PC crashes. I also tend to open links in new tabs with the intention of reading what I open in these tabs at a later time. To solve this problem that apparently many others also have, what I personally have done is bookmark all open tabs and store them in a separate folder for them whenever I want to save information on what I have open at a particular time. However, this leads to clutter in my list of bookmarks. And what if I simply want to know which URLs I had open, without bringing them up again in browser tabs or looking in places such as the bookmarks.html file in my Firefox profile folder? What can be done about this? Well, when using Mozilla Firefox, this is something that can be addressed, as one would expect with Firefox, through Firefox extensions.

As was noted in the previously mentioned Lifehacker article, the extension titled Copy All Urls is useful for times when one needs to save a copy of the URLs one has open at a particular time. With this extension installed, one can copy the URL in each open tab to the clipboard, so that these URLs can be pasted anywhere one would want to paste them. Another feature of it that can be quite useful is the option to include of the page title with each URL. This feature is good to have, because URLs do not always give informative descriptions of the content at the URL, whereas page titles often do. There are other useful features that this extension has, such as the option to have the URLs copied in HTML form. However, inclusion of features such as these can lead to ideas about other features that can be added, and in turn, to extensions that implement these features. And perhaps not surprisingly, ideas on additional features that could be included, and information about extensions that perform related tasks were mentioned in the comments section of the Lifehacker article.

It does not come as a surprise that extensions similar to Copy All Urls are already publicly available. One that performs a similar task that was mentioned in the comments section of the Lifehacker article was the extension known as Tab URL Copier. This extension gives the option to copy the URLs in all tabs (or only the URL in the currently selected tab) to the clipboard after right-clicking the web page in the tab that is currently selected. There is also the Send Tab URLs extension that is specialized to the task of e-mailing these URLs. And then there is the Session Manager extension that takes the concept of restoring browser sessions that one has open a few steps further. In addition to giving the user the ability to reopen tabs one has open at a time, it tries to restore them to the state they were in when they were closed. For example, it can restore data that was entered into forms on web pages that were open, which is something else that many users would want restored after the browser closes unexpectedly.

Indeed, many have considered issues related to tabbed browsing and have approached these issues in a number of ways. And as I previously mentioned, the topic of tabbed browsing issues has been one that I have thought about. In fact, I myself have thought about it enough to consider writing a Firefox extension that performs the tasks related to saving and restoring the information in browser tabs. I have discovered that some have already implemented ideas similar to the one I had. However, I am sure that other users would like something from their imagination implemented. One example of such as idea is the idea of integration of bookmarking open tabs with saving URLs to social bookmarking sites such as, which was a suggestion made in the comments section of the Lifehacker article.

I am not sure if working on issues related to tabbed browsing will be my next major project. However, it is a topic that I find too interesting to not consider at least at some point. I have gained a new appreciation for tabbed browsing not only because of these articles on the web that I have read. It is also because the PCs at the library from which I have had to blog do not have any browsers installed on them that have tabbed browsing as a feature. I certainly would prefer to deal with the issues that come with tabbed browsing than the problem of the lack of existence of browser tabs.