Tabhunter – Find Firefox Tabs Easily

I blogged about my Tabhunter Firefox extension a couple of weeks ago, and then on second thought decided to postpone the announcement until the AMO ( accepted my submission. So here it is. The extension’s at – the details…I blogged about my Tabhunter Firefox extension a couple of weeks ago, and then on second thought decided to postpone the announcement until the AMO ( accepted my submission.  So here it is. The extension’s at – the details follow.

I haven’t blogged much lately, even with the recent release of Komodo 4.4, as readers of this blog know, and I use the term “readers” loosely, as there isn’t much to read here.  I’ve been busy at work, and like many of us, my work has become increasingly more web-based.  And since I never was one to write URLs on post-it notes, and find the bookmarks manager too tedious to clean up, I developed a habit of using my pile of tabs as an ever-present todo list.  It was convenient, but with 50 or 60 tabs spread over anywhere from 3 to 7 windows it was getting harder to find things.

So rather than streamline my work habits (and clean off my desk while I’m at it), I took the developer’s usual way out, and wrote a Mozilla extension to make it easier to find a particular tab and move to it.  I already knew what it was going to look like — I use Davide Ficano’s TabSwitcher extension in Komodo when I have more than a dozen files loaded, and I knew my way around XUL and the Mozilla XPCOM API, so it took a few evenings to build it, with one sunny weekend afternoon sacrificed chasing bugs, both in my code and the platform.

So now Ctrl-Alt-T (Cmd-Option-T on the Mac) launches the panel, where you type a substring (actually a case-insensitive JavaScript regex) to zoom in on the list of matching tabs — matches are done against both the tab’s title and its URL.  Press Return or double-click to go to the tab.  I found on Windows I prefer to keep the Tabhunter panel open, and bring it up from the Task Bar, but this makes less sense on Windows and the Mac, so I’ll put in an option to close the panel after the hunt is done.

So now my workflow is to frequently bring up the panel, and I can easily multi-task among the various items I’m working on.  In my case, this means typing “plow” (ActiveState’s source code search engine), “mxr” (Mozilla’s), “^att” to see the attachments I’m currently working on, and any other pages I’m working on.  Finally I don’t have to close any tab before its time has come.

Just like building freeways temporarily reduces congestion, only to see an increase in total vehicle usage, I now rarely drop below 120 loaded tabs, as opposed to the 50 or so I was struggling with a short month ago.  You probably want to have a decent amount of RAM to really take advantage of this one.  On the Windows box I’m on 121 tabs are occupying 400MB, with this instance of Firefox running for a couple of days – I suspect Firefox 2 wouldn’t handle that many tabs as easily.  I’ve also used Tabhunter with Flock, and it should work with other Mozilla-based browsers, once the install.rdf is updated.

Now I’ve got to figure out what to do about my real-world desk.


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