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Week in Geek: The Disable Firefox 3.5 Tab Tearing Edition

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The upcoming Firefox 3.5 release adds a new “Tab Tearing” feature that lets you drag tabs off the bar and into a new window. Very cool, but why didn’t they give you a way to disable the feature if you don’t want it?

Luckily we can still disable it with an add-on. In case you haven’t tried out the new release yet, when you grab a tab and drag it you can create a new window… just like Google Chrome or Safari does.


Once you’ve installed the experimental Firefox extension, you’ll need to open up Add-ons from the Tools menu, and then choose “Disable detach tab” from the extension options page.


The change should be immediate, no more detaching tabs.

Download bug489729 (Disable detach and tear off tab) 1.2 [Mozilla Add-ons]

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Editor’s Weekly Random Note

I ordered a new TV for the first time in a long time, a Panasonic VIERA 42 inch 1080p Plasma from Amazon… I even got it for a great price.

Here’s a bargain price tip: if you want to track a bunch of stuff on Amazon you can just add them all to your cart, use the “Save for later”, and then every time you visit your shopping cart page Amazon will tell you at the top of the screen which prices have changed.


The great thing about a plasma TV is the really superior viewing angles—doesn’t matter where I’m sitting in the room, I can see the picture clearly. Not to mention that 600hz refresh rate makes virtually anything look good.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/28/09

Comments (13)

  1. Amr El-Helw

    I’m not sure as to why anyone would want to “disable” this feature? I mean, if you don’t want to create a new window out of a tab, then.. just don’t. Why the need to install an add-on to disable it?

    Does this feature use up more resources or something, and disabling it frees these resources? But then again, even if this is true, install a new add-on will certainly use up more resources. So, again, I’m not sure why this is a good idea. Am I missing something?

  2. Tonino

    I for one would love to disable it because I trigger it accidentally every now and then and I really don’t use it.
    However, I’m not doing it with an extension.
    I will when it can be done with a setting ot in about:config.

  3. Aoi_sora9x

    @Amr: there are ppl who need the feature… so yah? just because u dont need the feature doesnt mean that it is unnecessary… i mean, there are people who want to disable tab browsing in FFx because of some technical/personal reason (i.e. dont want to waste bandwidth, there are still ppl using dial-up connection around)

  4. Travis

    @Amr: Wacom tablet + FF3.5 in Mac OSX. I’m constantly ripping my tabs out on accident.

  5. superhobo

    I want to disable it because I drag and drop tabs down to it’s own page to refresh.

  6. Eric

    In Firefox, I used to be able to drag a tab onto another instance of Firefox, and the other instance would load that page. Firefox 3.5 no longer allows that. In Firefox 3.5, when I drag a tab onto another instance of Firefox, it just loads the page in a brand-new instance rather than the one I dropped the tab onto. Is there any way to get the old drag-and-drop behavior (between instances) back? That bug489729 add-on didn’t help me there. And why did Mozilla change that anyway?

  7. Eric

    An update on dragging tabs to other instances: I just noticed that with version 3.5, I can drag tabs into other Firefox instances by dragging & dropping the tab onto the tab bar of the other Firefox instance, and the page loads there. What I used to be able to do is to drag a tab into the page view area of the new Firefox instance, and the page would open there. When I do that with version 3.5, though, the page opens in a brand-new instance of Firefox. And the tab disappears from the instance I dragged it from, which is also different from version 3.0.

    I like the tab dragging behavior of the previous version, as I don’t like having the tab bar showing when I only have one page open.

  8. Justin

    Thanks. I hate this feature! I accidently “tear” tabs all the time. It disorients me and I’ll a professional web developer. Who knows what it does to inexperienced users. This feature flunks usability concerns!

  9. peter

    doesn’t work for me. followed directions to a T, disabled detatch tab… no change

  10. goombapatrol

    tab-tearing disabling worked great, thanks!

    but is there a way to revert the tab visuals back?
    (when i click and drag tabs to reorder them, it used to look different -without the page preview thumbnail)

  11. George

    I didn’t read all comments so if i’m repeating something already written, sorry. I tried the extension but it didn’t work as espected, so I discovered there is a way to revert the problem. You need to activate an option in settings -> tabs -> always show the tab bar; then, when one tab is accidentally dragged to a new window, just drag the tab back to its “mother” window, and that’s all, new window is closed and your tab is back.

  12. George

    UPDATE: You should drag the tab from the new window to the TAB BAR OF YOUR “MOTHER” WINDOW, if you just drop it onto the window it won’t work at all.

  13. -

    drag the tab from the new window to the TAB BAR OF YOUR “MOTHER” WINDOW
    Yes, but still a PITB when the new ff window creates a 2nd line in windows’ taskbar.
    The tear off feature should require holding down a modifier key (ctrl, shift, apple, etc).
    One of ff’s advantages has been the very intuitive dragging of the pertinent tab. you can even drag a background tab.
    bug489729@alice0775 fix seems to no longer work in 3.6.18.
    But it seems to be unnecessary in ff4. i guess ff devs reversed the tearoff mess in ff4? I’m not sure. I haven’t used ff4 much because the ui wrecked my compact userchrome.

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