Firefox is very humble about its tabbed browsing feature, which I explain in depth in Chapter 7. In fact, many tab fanatics say they had no idea it existed even weeks into using Firefox. We developers intentionally hid the feature so people who were accustomed to the old way of surfing wouldn't be overwhelmed when they switched to Firefox. However, tabs are seamlessly woven throughout the browser, just waiting for you to discover them.
Here are some easy ways to open tabs in Firefox:
Using the middle mouse button: If your mouse has a middle button — or a scroll wheel that doubles as a button — you're in luck. At Firefox headquarters, we call this the tab button because it offers access to a new tab from virtually anywhere. Naturally, it works on links within Web sites, but it also works throughout the Firefox interface. Want to open a bookmark in a new tab? Just middle-click it, whether you're opening it from the Bookmarks Sidebar, the Manager, the Toolbar or (in Windows) the Bookmarks menu. The same goes for Web page history, whether you're using the Go menu or the History Sidebar. The basic rule is that you can middle-click anything that would normally load a Web site in your current tab to open it in a new tab: Back and Forward buttons, Home, you name it!
Ctrl+clicking items: Don't have a middle mouse button? No problem. You can Ctrl+click (or +click on a Mac) Web page links and entries in your bookmarks and history lists to open them in new tabs. In other words, hold the Ctrl (or ) key while left-clicking items.
Using the contextual menus: So, you don't have a middle mouse button and you don't want to reach for the keyboard. In the case of bookmarks, history and Web site links, Firefox still has you covered in most cases. Simply right-click them and choose to open a new tab from the contextual menu that appears. If you're using a Mac and you use a mouse without a right button, you can hold the left mouse button for a second or two, and the context menu appears.
Using Alt+Enter (Option+Enter on a Mac): This is a handy keyboard shortcut when you don't feel like reaching for the mouse. You primarily use this shortcut in the Location Bar: Simply type an address and hold Alt (or Option on a Mac) while pressing Enter to open it in a new tab.
Double-clicking the tab bar: You can open a new tab at any time by double-clicking empty space in the tab bar (in other words, anywhere but on an existing tab).
Dragging a link onto the tab bar: To open a link in a new tab, simply drag it to the tab bar. If you drop it on an existing tab, the link loads in that tab. Otherwise, it loads in a new tab.
Using the Add a New Tab button: Tab aficionados can add a New Tab button to any of the Firefox toolbars via the Customize Toolbar window. See Chapter 18 for help with toolbar customization.