Killer Feature of Google Chrome; UI For Closing Tabs

You can throw any amount of browser speed benchmarks at me, show me how your browser has a lesser memory footprint, and/or reduced cpu load, but you won’t convince me to switch my browser from Google Chrome to something else. Well, not right away. That is, until Chrome does something terribly wrong, or other browsers pick up on some of the UI gems that Chrome has, or at least one of them. Read on…

User interface can act as a killer feature for any consumer product, be it software or hardware. Elegant and beautiful interface is why most of us adore Apple’s products. It is also the reason why Gmail got so popular, having an elegant web client. It is also the reason why Windows became a dominant OS in its early days, beating all other operating systems to it (okay, okay, you are right, it was also a clever marketing strategy that didn’t let MacOS come close to the dominance). And UI is why Ubuntu became the dominant Linux distribution, because it made giving an average user a friendly interface to the wild world of a Linux system, a high priority.

When Chrome was first released, it had many interesting UI elements that differentiated it from other browsers. Giving tabs a higher priority in interface by placing them at the top. Integrating search right into the address bar. Having the minimum set of buttons on its home screen than any other browser. But the one feature of Chrome UI that had me in awe, and stick to it for the rest of my days, was the way it allowed you to close tabs.

I browse web a lot in search of interesting articles and blog posts. I have tons of tech and programing related blog feeds in my blog reader. And I religiously follow some forums, making sure I read most of what’s said there. This leads to having many tabs open in a browser window most of the time. At times so many, that the only thing I can see in tabs bar is tons of favicons and no title text. And when that happens, it is time to close all those tabs no more needed.

If you also find yourself in above situation many times a day, you will know how painful this experience is on any other browser. It is an exercise in agony. You have to constantly move you mouse pointer from one tab to another, making sure you move it by right amount to have it over close button of the now moved over tab, which would adjust its tab item’s width every time you close a previous tab. Chrome has effectively solved this issue. Now when you have to close many tabs, you can just place your mouse pointer at the start of the tab stream you would want closed, and start clicking like anything. It makes sure the shifted tab’s close button is right under your mouse pointer, unless and until you move your pointer away. At which point all tab items on tab bar adjust their width according to the new space available.

closing tabs on chrome

closing tabs on chrome

Every time one of the major browsers releases a new version, I download it to check whether it lets me close tabs that way or not. I am shocked how none of them do. Chrome has this since its release in 2008. It has been 2+ years! Has Google patented it or what? Why aren’t other browsers picking up on it?

I occasionally use other browsers. Firefox for its wonderful Firebug plugin, and Safari when I am interacting with Apple developers site. But for most other uses, the only browser you would find running on my system, is Google Chrome.

What is your main browser?

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5 thoughts on “Killer Feature of Google Chrome; UI For Closing Tabs

  1. Phil: Thanks for the tip. But the problem still persists. Tab items adjust their width as you keep on closing them. So it is very likely that tabs you didn’t intend to close would come under your pointer while you are middle clicking in FF. :)

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