All the tips/hints/fixes/other information posted here are at your own risk. Some of the steps here could result in damage to your computer. For example, using a Windows registry editor like RegEdit could result in unintended serious changes that may be difficult or impossible to reverse. Backups are always encouraged.

23 May 2009

Tabless Web Browsing

Having tabs in web browsers can be very convenient, but they can be annoying also. That point totally mystifies some people.

There are 2 reasons why I wanted to get a tabless web browser. First is that I have a widescreen notebook computer. The vertical space is more precious to me than the horizontal space. Unless you're using an extension like Tab Kit in Firefox, you are stuck with tabs between the top of your screen and the start of web page content.

Second, I sometimes use the web while referring to windows of other programs (incredible, yes?). I can have a lot of windows, browser or otherwise, open at once. Accordingly, I have a vertically oriented taskbar on the left side of the screen. I can stretch out the taskbar quite wide, and all buttons for open windows stack nicely on top of each other. If I open many windows, I get a second column of buttons that is still quite readable. Also, I have Aero previews so I can see what's what very easily. With Taskbar Shuffle, I can rearrange and middle-click to close taskbar buttons.

For tabless web browsing, I could find only 2 3 options: Internet Explorer (not IE-based browsers like Maxthon, Avant, or TheWorld), Safari, and Firefox. (Actually, you can't disable tabs in Safari, but you can Ctrl-click to open in a new background window.) With Safari, I couldn't get downloads to save correctly, so I wanted to see if I could work with IE. With Internet Explorer, you can disable tabs, but it does not look like you can open new windows in the background by default; they insist on stealing focus. In Firefox, set appropriate options for opening in windows instead of tabs and set browser.tabs.opentabsfor.middleclick to false, but new windows insist on stealing focus. The following in my main AutoHotkey script helped with that [UPDATED 6/4/2009]:

GroupAdd, browser, ahk_class IEFrame
GroupAdd, browser, ahk_class MozillaUIWindowClass

#IfWinActive, ahk_group browser

#MaxThreadsPerHotkey 8
; ^LButton:: SetWinDelay, 333 ; Uncomment if there are windowing problems in IE.

WinGet, parent, ID, A
Send {Click M}
WinWaitNotActive, ahk_id %parent%, , 10
If Errorlevel Return
WinGet, child, ID, A
WinActivate, ahk_id %parent%
WinWaitActive, ahk_id %parent%
WinGet, mx, MinMax, ahk_id %child%
If mx = 0 WinMaximize, ahk_id %child%
#MaxThreadsPerHotkey 1

I think this way of using web browsers is pretty efficient, but having to use AHK to make it possible is sad. I mentioned some IE-based browsers, and they do have many features, but disabling tabs appears to just not be an option. Please, if you make a web browser, make it possible to easily open links in new background windows.

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