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by Tony Chang

All opinions on this site are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

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how do you browse?

May 14, 2005, 12:39pm EDT



This is my daily browsing routine:

  • I start with my “news aggregator” and read events in chronological order. That is, I scroll down until I find the last item I read then read up the page.
  • If there are embedded links in the entry that interest me, I open them in a background tab (middle click).
  • When I finish the reading the entry, I go back and read the tabs I opened.
  • I then return to scrolling up and reading more entries from the aggregator.

The result is that I only use one browser window with lots of tabs. What I’m curious about is how someone browses if s/he doesn’t use tabs. Does the user then open lots of new windows or after finishing the a page, does the person go back and follow more links? I’d be even more interested in hearing about users who use a combination of tabs and new windows. I tried doing this at work once (one window with multiple tabs for documentation and a separate window for general usage), but I think I spent more time trying to find tabs and would often have duplicate tabs.

I vaguely recall back in the days of Netscape 4, I used to right click on links and open them in a new window, but I think it had something to do with browser windows not rendering pages and allowing an easy way to kill a rogue window.

Alex at May 14, 2005, 07:47pm EDT

i basically do the same thing as you but since i have a free livejournal account, i use a weird combination of my lj-friends page for livejournal people, and Habari Xenu for most other rss/atom blogs. I used to use Sage, but I like Habari Xenu’s interface a bit better (I can put bookmarks in folders etc). I only ever use one window in firefox, I just middle click on links as a read lj/habari. i have an extension that opens link targets for new windows in new tabs as well.

DC at May 14, 2005, 09:20pm EDT

I use IE most of the time, but I find that I do the same thing that I’m about to describe when I use Firefox. I use multiple windows and I think I prefer that in general to tabs because I can use spatial location in some way. I haven’t really analyzed it.

Anyway, I also go to the bottom and read entries upwards so that I see them chronologically. When something grabs my attention, I (right click+open in new window) the link and keep reading up. After I finish all of the items in the aggregator, I go through the windows. Usually they are stacked in reverse order (since I don’t do anything to make that not be the case) so I tend to just go through them in that order. Every once in a while I forget why I cared about some window being opened, but that’s pretty rare so I don’t change my habits because of it.

I should note that I do something similar when bidding on items on ebay except that I’ll usually display them in lowest-bid-first order and go through them from top to bottom, opening new windows for items I’ll probably bid on. This again leads to a reverse order of actual bidding.

Matt at May 15, 2005, 02:27am EDT

I love tabs. I hate opening new windows. I usually have enough apps open that any extraneous windows cause taskbar aggregation, which I don’t like. I usually keep all but the window I’m using minimized and the current window maximized.

Julien Couvreur at May 15, 2005, 01:21pm EDT

I proceed in a similar fashion, but with one extra step: I actually bookmark the pages that I open in tabs using a bookmarklets. These bookmarks are stored on a webpage and are only sorted by date added. It may seem messy to have a raw stack of bookmarks like that, but it works well for me. my online bookmarks

tony at May 17, 2005, 02:41am EDT

So you use a bookmarklet that bookmarks the page and opens it in a new tab? Does this mean you bookmark pages before you read them? I think I’m misunderstanding something.

awu at May 15, 2005, 02:02pm EDT

I kind of have gotten into a complicated scheme.

In Firefox, I have one LJ list and my bloglines page open (not that I know that’s better than other online aggregators).

My bloglines actually aggregates LJ folks I read but don’t want to friend.

I read tech sites in chrono order but journals in reverse chrono. I also have a specific journal ordering scheme which is a function of content, mood, and number of unread entries.

I also have IE open, which I use for some of my other stealth blogs, and use LJ email to gmail comments to track replies. I tend to branch less when using IE.

With firefox, I usually have five to fifteen tabs open.

tony at May 17, 2005, 02:49am EDT

By journal ordering scheme, do you mean just the order you read them, or the order in which tabs are arranged (or do you only use a single tab for this?)?

Does using a second browser increase your stealthity? I’m curious about the motive or benefit of using a second browser.

Andrew at May 15, 2005, 02:45pm EDT

I’ll often while away a spare half hour obsessively reloading the front page, just watching things pass by on the conveyer belt. There are some odd things coming down the stream.

Kim Belcher at May 19, 2005, 02:47pm EDT

When I’m just browsing I do something very similar to you, Tony, and I also love tabs. When I’m researching, however, I tend to open a new window whenever I hit a new topic or a new area within the topic. That way I have “tab clusters” — one window will have all the pages related to one thing, and if a link differs too much I’ll open a new window and then cluster the links from that page in tabs on that window.