One of the things I love about Microsoft Edge is the option that lets you access your tabs from the sidebar. It looks like Mozilla might add support for vertical tabs in 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. Click on one of the icons to switch to the corresponding tab. So you get the same experience but in a more compact interface.
If you expand the side panel, you’ll find it to be a more efficient way to manage your tabs. Most websites have a ton of empty space on either side of the screen, in my opinion having a vertical tab bar provides a better experience because it looks cleaner. Users with large screens or an ultra-wide monitor may find vertical tabs a blessing.
Ever since Microsoft launched the feature, vertical tabs have been a frequently 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, Vivaldi. To enable the side panel, go to the Settings > Tabs page and set the position of the tab bar to the left. You will need to shrink the panel to its minimum size to get the vertical tab experience in Vivaldi.
Mozilla might bring vertical tabs to Firefox
Users had voted to request vertical tabs for Firefox from the Mozilla Crowdity community. The comment portal, which has been slow to gain momentum, is buzzing. A Product Community Manager at Mozilla finally responded to the request with some good news. He wrote that since the request emerged as a hot idea in the community, it has been reviewed by Mozilla developers. They are looking for ways to improve tab management and are investigating 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 fly”.
We don’t know what Mozilla’s implementation of vertical tabs might look like. Hopefully it’s not just a sidebar that auto-hides, we need to hide the top tab bar. For now, I think users can be happy that the option is being explored and keep their fingers crossed.
Other Ways to Add Vertical Tabs in Firefox
Firefox has plenty 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 this type, Firefox has implemented APIs that allow the user to modify the interface according to their preferences. The flip side is that these APIs are limited and extensions cannot access or modify certain parts of the GUI, due to certain restrictions. These rules are in place to protect the user from malicious add-ons, which 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 to change their browser theme, new tab page, etc. So, yes, you can use one of the scripts to modify the userChrome.css, hide the tab bar, and use an extension to access tabs from a side panel. Here’s a user-created script for vertical tabs, and here’s a website that has more custom CSS themes for Firefox. Most, if not all, of these scripts are open-source. I advise caution when tinkering with scripts, you might want to make a backup of your tabs, sessions and data, just in case something goes wrong and you need to reset the browser.
What do you think of vertical tabs?