Mozilla-Firefox comparison

One Mozilla feature I’m really missing in Firefox is the ability to automatically open your default starting page when you open new tabs. I like my browsers to load Google at startup and upon opening new windows. One would think that new windows and new tabs would be handled in the same way — they’re basically the same thing, and serve the same purpose — but to get Google in a new tab I have to open a blank tab, then click the Home button. Mozilla used to open new tabs to a blank page, but later added the option to load your start page automatically (although this is disabled by default for some reason). Firefox doesn’t offer you the option at all. Because I’m used to doing Cmd-T and typing a search query immediately, this is a bit of an annoyance for me.

There are a couple of extensions available that will allow me to do this, but both have some pretty serious problems.
  1. Tabbrowser gives you the option but after installing it I noticed that a) Firefox starts considerably slower, and b) I lost the ability to open links in a new tab by Cmd-clicking. Not an option, sorry. I promptly uninstalled it.
  2. Single Window will do it, but also carries a dire warning at the top of the page that OS X users should back up their profiles before using it. Never one to shy away from danger, I backed up my profile and installed it, only to find my browser pretty much unusable: my bookmarks weren’t loaded (although they still existed in my profile directory) and typing in the URL bar and hitting enter had no effect. Uninstalling the extension brought everything back to normal. Also not an option until it’s fixed.
In Mozilla, the browser.tabs.loadOnNewTab preference controls this behavior, and browser.tabs.loadOnNewWindow controls the behavior of new windows. Setting these to 0 or removing it entirely causes tabs or windows to be opened blank, a setting of 1 causes your start page to load, and 2 duplicates the current active page in new tabs/windows. Firefox has the option for new window behavior but not for tabs, and seems to ignore this preference entirely if it’s set.

After further investigation, it looks like this functionality is just not supported in Firefox without a third-party extension, and there are no plans to change this. There’s an open bug report on Bugzilla, but a similar report has been marked WONTFIX with no explanation given, which makes absolutely no sense at all.

Comments

anonymous says:

Mate,

Found you via Google and Firefox config search.

Anyway:
* type “about:config” into the location bar.
* Filter by “browser.tabs.loadOnNewTab”, or just look for it.
* Set the value of this to “1″. This will cause any new tabs opened (on Ctrl+t) to open with your homepage.

Cheers.

Kenn Christ says:

Great, except that it doesn’t work in Firefox, like I said above, and like it says in the Bugzilla bug I linked to.

browser.tabs.loadOnNewWindow does what you would expect in both Mozilla and Firefox, but the browser.tabs.loadOnNewTab functionality was removed from Firefox for some reason. It’s still there, but it’s ignored.