Ctrl+Tab.. used like this could improve user experience

(Note: This blog post was originally published under my old domain(codesmiles.com), here. Web Archive link.

Tabbed browsing..

Perfect feature parity 😉

Current version of all major browsers have Tabbed browsing feature. I’ve noted an issue in this tabbed browsing behavior since I started using a browser that had it. Before telling about the actual issue, I would like to remind you about a well known fantastic feature of Windows OS(I am not sure if any other OS already had it before Windows, Apple?). Any computer geek cannot live without it.

(For those of you who are not aware..you can open a new tab in latest browsers by pressing Ctrl+T and switch between each Tab using Ctrl+Tab, just keep this in mind..)

Alt+Tab… You know how useful it is, it helps to switch between different software applications running on your system easily, people who tend to use mouse less and keyboard more would love it, it’s their first great weapon.

But, have you noted a behaviour of Alt+Tab, if you press & hold Alt key and press Tab continuously you get a list of all running applications and you can choose from it. But if you just press Alt+Tab (and release Alt & Tab), Windows will take you to the previously focused application, and if you press Alt+Tab again(and release both keys) it will take you to the application from where you selected(focused) current application.

This functionality provides you an option to quickly swap between two applications. Especially it’s critical when you are referring content from one window and work in another window, like most developers, designers and any kind of data processing user would do.

So I would like to have the same kind of behaviour in Tab enabled browsers too, isn’t it? But in browsers if I use Ctrl+Tab in both the above mentioned ways I get the same result, it takes to the next tab sequentially. I don’t think providing Alt+Tab like behaviour would complicate the usability to beginners.

As most of you do, I will also spend lot of time doing comparisons and analyse various things, like, compare two mobile phones, gadgets, etc. In these times, I would like to swap as I do in Alt+Tab, it also becomes tedious for me to remember the tab position or locate the tab, if I open many of them as a result of my search and it ends up in a confusion and requires a higher level of concentration. This puts some stress on the user and might get a (slight)feeling similar to doing something in a work environment pressure and the user won’t enjoy the browsing experience ultimately, IMHO.

This issue exists in IE, FireFox, and Google Chrome, don’t know about anyother browsers, let’s see whether they think it should be changed. If you know if there is a browser that works as I wanted above, let me know, I think I will use it for specific browsing needs.


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