Open Bug 1889259 Opened 3 months ago Updated 2 months ago

show only tabs of current tool + don't open tabs just for navigating in the vertical Spaces toolbar


(Thunderbird :: Mail Window Front End, enhancement, P2)

Thunderbird 115


(Not tracked)


(Reporter: chrizilla, Unassigned)


(Blocks 1 open bug)


(Keywords: design-needed, ux-efficiency, ux-minimalism, Whiteboard: [Supernova3p])

This bug reflects the consensus expressed by most users commenting in this Mozilla Connect thread:


TLDR: The consensus is that navigation in the vertical spaces toolbar should not automatically open unnecessary tabs in the horizontal tabs bar, which is experienced as redundant. (I personally happen to agree with that.) Suggested improvements below the report.


(Aside from a seemingly critical view of tabs in Thunderbird in general) there are 4 main points of view expressed in that thread, which I am trying to aggregate here:

  1. Only the tabs for the currently selected tool in the spaces toolbar should be displayed (not all tabs for all tools simultaneously):

    • vocko says: « I would like the bar on the left would sort of jump between workspaces - if I'm in the mail, I will see opened tabs related to my mail, if I'm in the calendar, I would only see the tabs related to the calendar. »
  2. Navigating BOTH in the vertical spaces toolbar AND the horizontal tabs toolbar is redundant:

    • fabian76 says: « Currently, while using the toolbar on the left to switch between mail, calender and contacts, Thunderbird opens a new tab. Even if you switch back to mail, the other tabs remain open. There should be an option to disable the tabs and only switch using the toolbar on the left. »
    • R0m4nAs3 says: « switching between spaces is possible by STRG+Num (Meta+Num on Mac) and spaces bar on the left. So no need for tabs here anyway. »
    • vocko says: « If I don't want to use tabs, switching items on the left bar would just change the content of the main area. I agree that having a tab for a mail and another one for a calendar (contacts, ...) is just a duplication as I already have these "tabs" on the left bar. »
    • R0m4nAs3 says: « close all tabs with the CTRL+W, then open the spaces in its order from top to bottom. This will make the opened tab order the same as the space order and you can cycle through all spaces with CTRL+TAB in the same order you're expecting. After you've done so far, just close each new tab, e.g. settings, a specific email aso. with CTRL+W to keep TB tabs clean. I know, it's just a workaround, but in the meantime, as long as discussion and decision are ongoing, this may sweeten your day. »
    • bad_note says: « The awesome new interface is cluttered by tabs opening - please allow the option to have no tabs. Maybe a key binding - hold ctrl or alt down when clicking the left bar could force the selection to open in tabs for those who want it or the rare instance it might be useful? »
    • jsbax15 says: « This is the one thing keeping me from using Thunderbird right now. Would love an option to disable the tabs interface, and just navigate with the sidebars! »
  3. Avoiding unnecessary tabs saves precious vertical space on widescreen displays:

    • fabian76 says: « Benefits: gain of space, more intuitive for new users »
    • kalziEOS says: « counter-intuitive and a waste of space »
    • R0m4nAs3 says: « I appreciate to "deactivate" tabs, too. With a clean modern config (see screenshot), the tabs consumed space can be used better. »
  4. performance gain:

    • R0m4nAs3 says: « When disabling the tab bar TB115 gets a very clean looking modern interface, but in the background tabs will still be used and kept open. So TB will be more memory consuming as expected by the time running as hidden tabs will stay open even after restarting the app. Therefor I appreciate to disable tabs for messages etc. pp. Tabs for spaces may kept open for performance reason, so general content must not be reloaded each time switching to it's space. »

💡 suggested improvements:

My 2 (closely related) ideas based on the user statements above:

  1. show ONLY tabs for the currently active tool selected in the vertical spaces toolbar:
    show only contact tabs in contact section,
    show only mail tabs in mail section,
    show only calendar tabs in calendar section

  2. Navigate between tools with the vertical spaces toolbar. Don't open new horizontal tabs just for selecting a different tool in the vertical toolbar. (This is redundant and IMO bad UI logic, because it confuses users: Do you navigate vertically or horizontally between tools?) You have built such a wonderful and near-perfect new GUI. Why complicate the menu navigation so unnecessarily ?

    Apparently this second point is already planned. Alessandro Castellani: « We don't have a bug for this. The plan for the future is to not open a tabbar if the user is only accessing the primary spaces (mail, calendar, address book, etc), and only show tabs when multiple elements per space are opened (single messages in tabs, events in tabs, etc). We don't have an ETA for this but it will happen later this year.. »
    Since no bug has been filed for this plan yet, this bug intends to put in on record herewith.


This request is somewhat similar but different from bug #1824890:

  • Bug #1824890 asks to optionally hide ENTIRE bars.
  • This bug only asks to open fewer tabs (NOT for switching between tools) + to only show tabs in the context of the currently selected tool.
Severity: -- → N/A
Keywords: design-needed
Priority: -- → P2
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