When we think about tabs, the most common image that comes to mind is an array of items lined horizontally across a browser. Some of us imagine a couple of open tabs while others imagine an endless field of open pages and services as there are many who never want to close their tabs. For the latter group of people, the default way of handing tabs is rarely the most convenient as you can see by the huge number of extensions that cater to tab-specific things including the topic of today’s conversation, vertical tab management.
Why vertical tabs?
Since we are so used to navigating our browsers with the horizontal tab style, one might ask what need there is for an alternate vertical tab management style. The answer, like always, is freedom of customization. When your browser tries to handle dozens of open tabs at the same time, the result is very messy and quickly finding the correct tab becomes a legend, something that you have only heard about yet only experience at rare times throughout life. With vertical tabs, managing open pages may seem like a less daunting task for some users, especially when it is implemented correctly.
Mozilla’s browser is the uncontested king as far as vertical tabs go solely because of Tree Style Tab. This add-on takes the tab toolbar and moves it on the side of the browser. Each tab has its full title and you can quickly take a look upon dozens of open pages at once. In addition to that, the add-on owes its name to its tab-management system. Whenever you open a new tab from an open page, that tab is added directly below it so that all tabs can be grouped based on their relations to other tabs, thus the “tree style” eponym. This feature alone makes the Tree Style Tab add-on the best choice for anyone who constantly goes on internet hunts, whether it is for research purposes or entertainment ones.
The browser by Opera’s former CEO is coming along rather nicely and the promises of adding features for power users are already being delivered, albeit at a slower pace than originally anticipated. Vertical tabbing, for instance, is natively supported so all you have to do is configure the settings to work exactly like you want. The appropriate options (left and right side) can be found in the Tabs section of Vivaldi’s settings where you can also choose to disable thumbnails in case your open tabs take too much space. You can also choose to make tabs stack together by dragging and dropping tabs on each other or using keyboard controls (Ctrl + F6-F9 for different groups).
Older versions of Chrome had a secret setting that enabled vertical tabs but Google has since removed it and instead opted to lay the burden on independent developers. As of right now, there is no extension that comes close to the functionality offered in Firefox but that is because developers are limited by Google as to how much they can affect the current tab system. For instance, Tabs Outliner adds the same tree-style management features to Chrome but it does so in a separate window that is attached to Chrome. Tabs will remain open in their own bar like always but you can simply choose to manage them from the Tabs Outliner window instead. Another option is to use vTabs which adds a pop-up sidebar on the left side of the browser but the standard tabs will remain open here too.
Apple’s products are rarely noted for their customization features but vertical tabbing in Safari is indeed possible via the SafariStand SIMBL plug-in. It acts in the exact same way as similar extensions for other browsers do, meaning it can add a group of vertical tabs on the left side of Safari though its functionality is limited to that. The plug-in actually adds a whole bunch of different things to Safari so make sure to visit the settings menu and configure everything after installing it.