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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Click Tips
Rob Freeman
By Rob Freeman
Click tip-ster

Rob Freeman, Click's very own Mr Fixit, troubleshoots your PC problems and helps you get the most out of your computer.

People often ask us about the advantages of tabbed browsing.

It is easier to understand if you see it being done, so I recommend you look at the video stream on the right of this page to get the full picture.

Before tabbed browsing, if you wanted to open more than one browser window at once, you had to right-click, open in new window, right click, open in new window... and pretty soon you had a desktop full of windows all over the place.

With tabbed browsing, you can choose to open a link in a new window, or in a new tab.

The new window opens in a tab behind, and you can switch between these windows in the same browser.

If you are using Firefox, there is a shortcut. Hold down the CTRL key while clicking a link, and it will open a new tab each time.

This is really useful if you have a narrowband connection and want to save time while browsing. You can quickly open all the links you want and each will download in the background. Hopefully, they should have fully loaded by the time you come to read them.

It also means you can open a collection of pages to read later, if you are on a laptop, and will not have access to the internet for a while.

Firefox has ways to help here, and if you have a folder of bookmarks, you can open them all in tabs with one click from the bookmarks menu.

The new version of Internet Explorer has tabbed browsing too, and you can also get it working in previous versions by downloading the MSN toolbar.

With the toolbar installed you get the option to open a new window in the background, so that you stay on the page you are on, or to open in the foreground, which switches you immediately to that page, and the page you were just viewing gets pushed underneath.

You can also toggle a button which makes each link open as a tab. Firefox's trick of holding down the CTRL key before clicking a link does not work on IE however.

IE can open a collection of pages at once, although not in nearly so elegant a way as Firefox. You are also stuck with the same set of pages each time, and it is hard to edit. This bit needs work.

However, if you are used to closing each page after you have read it, watch out. Closing the browser shuts down all the tabs as well, and you will lose pages you have not read yet.

But cleverly, if you are using Firefox, it will warn you that you still have tabs open before shutting everything down.

Next time: we are going to be looking more closely at toolbar plugins for browsers. Are they worth installing? Do they really help?

Send us your thoughts:


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