Make Firefox Open All Links in the Same Tab

One of the great annoyances of bad web design is the link that opens a new tab in your web browser rather than simply loading the new page in the current tab. It was even worse in the days before tabbed browsers, because it would open an entirely new browser window, but it’s still annoying and still bad web design: The idea is to keep you on the current web site (“pleeeeeze don’t leave!”) but it actually makes it more difficult to get back to the original page because the “Back” button no longer works. In other words, it causes the problem it’s intended to prevent. It has been known to be bad web design for 10 years now, but people still do it.

You know what’s worst about it, though? It’s just plain rude to treat visitors to your web site this way. The first rule of effective web design is, “Don’t piss off people who visit your web site”. So, all you web designers out there: Stop using the “target= ” attribute in your links! (Unless you’re using it with in a page that uses Frames — if you design web pages that use frames just step out back and shoot yourself now.)

Fortunately, there is a way for Firefox users to override inconsiderate web designers who use this technique. With a simple customization, you can make all links open in the same tab (and if you want to open a link in a new tab you can just right-click and select “Open Link in New Tab”).

Here’s how you do it:

Type 'about:config' in browser address barStep 1:

In the Address Bar of Firefox, type the words “about:config” and then press the Enter key. This brings up the built-in customization page where you can configure myriad options in Firefox. To reach any one of them you can either scroll through the entire list or, if you know what you’re looking for, start typing it into the Filter box above the list.

Type 'browser.link' in the filter barStep 2:

Type “browser.link” into the Filter box. This will bring up three results. The one we want is the middle one shown in the image at right: “browser.link.open_newwindow”.

Double-click on “browser.link.open_newwindow” and you’ll get the dialog box shown below, with the default value of “3″ showing.

Type '1' in the dialog boxStep 3:

In the dialog box, replace the default value of “3″ with “1″ and click OK.

You’re done! Now every link will open in the same tab unless you decide otherwise!

(Just in case you’re curious, setting the value to “2″ would make every link open in a new tab.)

Enjoy your new browsing experience.

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13 Responses to Make Firefox Open All Links in the Same Tab

  1. Adam Wratten says:

    Mark,
    I’m extremely grateful for this information as Firefox 3.0.8 was driving me to apopletic rage.
    Thanks very much and I wish you every success in driving up the standard of web design.

    Best wishes

    Adam Wratten
    London, England

  2. admin says:

    Technically, it wasn’t Firefox that was making you apoplectic, it was inconsiderate web designers. But I know what you mean.

    The reason I made this blog post was that it took me an hour of searching to find out how to deal with this issue (and even then it wasn’t very prominent in the page). I thought I’d put up a page devoted to the topic so everyone else could find it easily.

    And, yes, I am trying to drive up the standard of web design. It’s one of the courses I teach at Youngstown State University :)

  3. Twig Boy says:

    Thanx for the tip!

    You can make Firefox behave the same way with external links (i.e., links from other apps) by change the link.open_external setting to 1, as well.

    That helps me a lot when I’m tweaking a page, going back and forth from Dreamweaver to Firefox and I don’t want 20 tabs open.

  4. Johnny says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! :D
    I really needed this.

  5. Marc Linn says:

    Thank you, excellent information. I’ve done this in prior versions of Firefox but the parameters seem to change from time to time.

    Firefox used to provide this option as one of their choices… it’s such an obvious thing, kind of odd that the info on how to do it is relatively hard to come by. Since the capability is there, it seems the developers would want their users to know how to take advantage of it.

    Good luck on your campaign to educate web designers. They seem largely oblivious to the effects of their decisions on those reading their pages.

  6. Justin says:

    Mine automatically did it. Lovin firefox.

  7. John says:

    Greetings and ten thousand thanks for the information about stopping the multitude of tabs though, I use a Mac and your instruction did not work. Any suggestions?

    FYI, my browser.link new window was preset to 2 which I changed to 1 and restarted. Still opening new tabs with each new selection. What idiot thinks this makes sense?

    Thanks and praying there is a Mac solution..

    John

  8. James says:

    Thanks for those instructions! You have saved my sanity – some sites I need to visit regularly were driving me round the bend with their new window/tab links.

  9. the old rang says:

    Evidently this ‘fix’ no longer is the fix, with 3.6.6.

    I am now going nuts try to fix what used to be in the ‘preferences’ area (no longer)
    and now the keys you suggest, no longer stop what mozilla has crammed down throats…

    I am getting so many tabs, I think I am being attacked by Coca-Cola.

  10. Erich Riesenberg says:

    I have this working on one pc and not another. Drives me crazy. I have tried many browsers. Don’t many people read emails and get tired of opening a hundred tabs?

  11. Erich Riesenberg says:

    Found a add in that works in Firefox, forces links to open in the same tab.

    I receive hundreds of linkable emails each day and closing a tab each time is annoying.

    Tab Mix Plus seems to fix it on Firefox.

    Just started using it, but right off I see three configurable tab settings, so be sure to configure it correctly. Good luck.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1122/

  12. hillyg says:

    All I have to say is WOO HOO!!!! This was annoying the crud out of me, and now no more annoyance. Thanks so much!