Why Safari Sucks: 3. Close Button on Every Tab

Don’t get me wrong. I like Safari. I use it almost every day. But some things about it just irritate me again and again and again…

Next, the close buttons on every tab.

(Part 1 was The Back Button, part 2 was The URL Bar)

Safari has tabbed-browsing. That’s is a good thing, and bravo to Apple for including this useful feature. But wait, they’ve screwed it up just a little bit.

To close a tab with the mouse, you click on the little ‘X’ button which appears on every tab. Trouble is, that the tabs shrink and stretch to fill the available space. So when you want to close many tabs all at once, the close-button keeps moving slightly to the left as the rightmost tab gets bigger and bigger to fill the available space. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole… spot where the close-button is now, hit it! Oh, where is it now? There! Hit it!…

What’s the alternative? Well Firefox has a single close button, all the way over on the right hand side of the tab-bar. This button never moves, so if you want to close multiple tabs you just keep clicking it.

Furthermore, multiple close-buttons take up more and more space as your bar fills up with tabs. So it gets easier and easier to accidentally hit the close button when you really just wanted to just switch to that tab. Eventually, about a third of the whole tab-bar is close buttons!

I understand that novice users will find it easier to associate the close buttons with the tabs when they are right next to each other. However, tabs are not a novice feature. Novice users never ever use tabs – they are just too confusing. So why worry about novice usability on an expert feature?

Finally, there’s no easy keyboard shortcut to switch between tabs. It’s “Command-Shift-[“ and “Command-Shift-]”, which is quite hard to type.

Firefox is seduced by the Dark Side

Firefox 2 has now gone the same way as Safari, every tab has a close button, and the end of the tab bar has a redundant “list all tabs” menu. But with Firefox, there’s a simple solution:

To remove the close buttons:

  1. Go to about:config

  2. Find browser.tabs.closeButtons

  3. Set it to 3.

    (Thanks to Tech-Recipes.)

To remove the “List All Tabs” menu

  1. Find your userChrome.css file (in your profile directory).

  2. Add this line:

    .tabs-alltabs-stack { display: none !important;}

  3. Restart Firefox.

    (Thanks to Firefox Extension Guru.)

Comment · Comments Feed · TrackBack

  1. davak said,

    27 January, 2007 @ 18:24

    No problem. Thanks for the link back to us.

  2. Dig T said,

    1 February, 2007 @ 03:00

    I’m glad Firefox 2 included this feature and I like it in Safari. If you’re using Firefox 1 there are at least two plug-ins which will add this feature in for you.

    I do agree that the close buttons moving because the tabs resize is bad.

    You can also switch tabs with the left and right arrows instead of the left and right brackets, I find that easier. Either way it is an easy key combo for me though most people I know simply map it to their mouse (which is even easier).

  3. Tomis said,

    13 February, 2007 @ 05:57

    Command-w Closes the current tab, problem solved.

    But if you want to close a tab that’s not the current tab then I agree it is a that the close boxes jump around.

    And the fact that the close boxes waste all that screen space. It would be nice if the close box only showed up when you’re mousing over a tab. Leaving more room for the actual tab text.

  4. ryan said,

    20 February, 2007 @ 19:43

    I find that the “Command-Shift-[” and “Command-Shift-]” are very easy to use. As for the close tab button being on every tab, is wonderful. Its easeir to close a tab there, as I’m switching between tabs, rather than having to go all the way over to a button the on the far right (I use a trackpad, so this really is an issue).

    If you think Safari is so bad, then just don’t use it. :) Not a big deal. For some, its much more convenient than firefox.

  5. marcelo said,

    3 October, 2008 @ 21:54

    tabs work just fine ¬¬ Command + Shift + Left or Right move through tabs and Command + W close the tab

    I still think you’re REALLY a boring fella

  6. alex said,

    6 October, 2008 @ 09:10

    marcelo: I think most people find usability boring. It takes attention to detail, laborious work and often quite a bit of ingenuity. And it’s quite hard to get right.

  7. Bob said,

    17 December, 2008 @ 11:33

    If you’re going to be a douche about it, just use keyboard shortcuts and kill them all like that. Not the most taxing task.

  8. Benjamin said,

    3 December, 2009 @ 17:11

    I use Opera, it has the close button in the same place all the time, but it also has a “close tab” button at the end of the tab bar. I find that very helpful indeed.

Leave a Comment