One of the things that I like about Microsoft Edge, is the option that lets you access your tabs from the sidebar. It appears that Mozilla could 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. Clicking one of the icons switches to the corresponding tab. So, you get the same experience but in a more compact interface.
If you expand the side panel, you will find that it is a more efficient way to manage your tabs. Most websites have a ton of blank space either side of the screen, in my opinion, having a vertical tab bar offers a better experience, because it looks cleaner. Users with large screens or an ultra-wide monitor may find Vertical Tabs to be a blessing.
Ever since Microsoft debuted the feature, Vertical Tabs has been a popularly 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 baked in, Vivaldi. To enable the side panel, head to the Settings> Tabs page, and set the Tab Bar position to the left. You will need to shrink the panel to its minimum size, to get the vertical tabs experience in Vivaldi.
Mozilla could bring Vertical Tabs for Firefox
Users had voted to request Vertical Tabs for Firefox at the Mozilla Crowdicity community. The feedback portal, which was slow to pick up the pace, is abuzz with activity. A Product Community Manager at Mozilla, has finally responded to the request with good news. He wrote that since the request has emerged as a top idea in the community, it has been reviewed by the developers at Mozilla. They are looking at ways to improve tab management, and are researching 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”.
We don’t know what Mozilla’s implementation of Vertical Tabs could look like. Hopefully, it’s not just a sidebar that auto-hides, we need to hide the tab bar from the top. For now, I think users can rejoice that the option is being explored, and keep our fingers crossed.
Other ways to add Vertical tabs in Firefox
Firefox has a lot 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 its kind, Firefox has APIs in place which allows the user to tweak the interface to their preference. The other side of the coin is that these APIs are limited, and extensions cannot access or modify certain parts of the GUI, due to some restrictions. These rules are in place to protect the user from malicious add-ons, that 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 code to change the theme of their browser, the new tab page, etc. So, yes you could use one of the scripts to edit the userChrome.css, to hide the tab bar, and use an extension to access tabs from a side panel. Here is a user-created script for Vertical Tabs, and here is a website that has more custom CSS themes for Firefox. Most, if not all, of these scripts are open-source. I advise caution while tinkering with scripts, you may want to take a backup of your tabs, sessions, and data, just in case something goes awry, and you have to reset the browser.
What do you think about Vertical Tabs?