EDITORIAL NOTE: Virginia DeBolt (bio) writes the bi-weekly Elder Geek column for Time Goes By in which she takes the mystery out of techie things all bloggers and internet users need to know to simplify computer use. She has written several books on technology and keeps two blogs herself, Web Teacher and First 50 Words.
Tabs make browsing easier. Tabs are a way of having more than one site open in your browser without having more than one window open. Several tabs can be opened in a single browser window at one time. Keeping track of the sites you are using is much easier when you have them all as tabs and can click from tab to tab instead of searching for individual open windows.
Here's my Firefox browser with four pages open in tabs. (My tabs are colored, yours probably won't be.)
The page title is shown on the tab label, which makes it easy to click from tab to tab to find the page you want.
My examples are with the Firefox browser. Internet Explorer or Safari or Opera or other browsers can use tabs. If you aren't using Firefox, look through the menus in your browser. You'll find a way to use tabs. The menu item may not be exactly the same wording, but you should find the same idea.
In Firefox, you can set your Preferences to always open new windows in a tab. In Preferences, select the radio button for 'a new tab' under "New pages should be opened in:"
When clicking a link, you can open a page in a new tab, even if your Preferences aren't set that way. Right clicking (Ctrl-click on a Mac) on the link and select 'open link in new tab' from the contextual menu that pops up.
What if you have a page open and you want to open another page in a tab, but you don't have a link to click? You open a new blank page in a tab in preparation for navigating to a new site by choosing File > New Tab. Once the new blank page is open, type the URL in the address bar. (I wrote about how to use your address bar in Love Your Address Bar.)
Do you visit the same set of pages every day? Maybe you open your Google Reader, your own blog, a news site, and a weather site every single day when you start browsing. With Firefox, you can bookmark all of those sites into a folder and open the whole bunch all at once in tabs.
First get them all open in tabs. Then choose Bookmarks > Bookmark All Tabs.
You'll be asked to name a folder to hold this set of bookmarks. Create a name and save.
When you want to open all your pages in tabs, find the folder you created in your bookmarks. Click the folder name, then click the last item in the list of bookmarks list: Open all in tabs. Everything in your folder will open in tabs.
Tabs are as easy to close as they are to open. There is a small X on each tab. Just click the X and the tab will close. The rest of the pages/tabs you have open will be unaffected. If you accidentally close a tab, you can reopen it using the Recently Closed Tabs option in the History menu.
If you've never used tabs in your browser, I urge you to give them a try. They make browsing a lot easier.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, George J. Measer: A Very Historical Dinner Party.