I hate tabs

I hate tabs, and I like windows.


Switching between windows is Alt+Tab. Simple.

Switching between tabs is irritating because it is a contrasting situation:

  1. The keyboard shortcut is not a standard, every application does it in its own way. It could be Ctrl+PgUp/PgDn or it could be Ctrl+Tab.
  2. Ctrl+PgUp/PgDn requires both hands since Ctrl and PgUp/PgDn are on the opposite ends of the keyboard.
  3. Ctrl+Tab is awkward to use (depending on your keyboard).
  4. Many applications don’t loop back to the first/last tab (I’m looking at you, gnome-terminal) which means I have to learn a new paradigm such as Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2 which totally breaks the flow.

Amazing how a keyboard shortcut can ruin the usefulness of the feature.

12 thoughts on “I hate tabs

  1. Swaroop,

    I wonder if you do not have a CTRL key on the right side of the keyboard? Most keyboards I have used have 2 CTRLs, one on each side!

    Using CTRL +PgUp/PgDwn is easier that ways :)

    Just my 2 cents though.

  2. I can’t imagine browsing without tabs.. the inconvenience is worth it :)

    I remember Konsole has the “loop back” functionality and also you can remap the shortcuts in both gnome and KDE. I’d mapped it to shift-left and shift-right, I think.

  3. I totally agree that switching tabs is difficult. But sometimes I feel that tabs are absolutely necessary, otherwise things will get messed up! I think the best solution for this problem would be to configure all applications to use the same shortcut keys. Hopefully there will be an application like KWallet which will manage these things for us!

  4. Although it’s somewhat controversial, I prefer to add CAPS as an additional control (or swap Ctrl and CAPS if you really need the latter), it seems to make a huge difference (well, at least on emacs :P). The main issue with this is that I am too used to it now, and any first attempt at a “Ctrl” on other keyboards inevitably triggers the caps lock :(

    Inside a terminal, use screen? Outside of it, I’d say try to remap the shortcuts. For some time, I’d in fact re-mapped the global Alt-tab to Win/Super/Cmd-tab, and cycl’d through tabs with alt-tab. It was quite conveinent, although I was still lost at keyboards that didn’t belong to me!

  5. I use gnome/wmii.. both of them use Alt-1,2,3.. to move between tabs (firefox, pidgin, gnome-terminal, etc.. its a standard thing).

  6. Don’t forget that Microsoft ridiculed the idea of tabs, hence they (tabs) failed to become a standard in Windows desktop world in contrast to Mac world where Control+Shift+{ or } is pretty standard way to switch tabs.

  7. @Praval True, but continuously shifting my right hand between the mouse and the keyboard is not pleasant.

    @Pradeep I wasn’t referring to browsing, it’s about tabs in general ;-) … Yeah, I should try remapping the keys to something easier.

    @Sandeep Standardization is possible for the keyboard shortcut, but will those keys be conveniently placed on the keyboard like the Alt-Tab combination?

    @Neel I have also mapped Caps lock to Ctrl in the past, it was useful. I really like your mapping idea – Win+Tab for windows, Alt+Tab for tabs. Should try this!

    @Sridhar If I want to switch to a previous tab, I should calculate what number it is? No way I’m doing that :)

    @Vineet Sad but true.

  8. gnome-terminal does loop … I’ve been using that for a number of years now.

    Also, since I tend not to use mouse as much as possible, I don’t have the same requirement as you. I can use both hands for moving between tabs and so the ctrl+pg down/pg up combination works fine for me. That said, you should look at reconfiguring the apps the keyboard mapping for apps that you use frequently.

  9. I always have to remember the CTRL + TAB to switch between tabs in Firefox.

  10. @Sharninder What is the key combination to make gnome-terminal loop through the tabs?

    Also, I tend to exclusively use the keyboard when writing, but often end up using the mouse for everything else.

    @Azeem Yes, same here.

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