Alt-Tab-like history navigation

Here’s an idea for an extension that I’ll probably never get around to writing (but one of you might, perhaps for the extension contest!):

Overload Alt-(Left|Right)Arrow, the history back and forward keyboard shortcuts (Cmd-Arrows on Mac), to create an Alt-Tab-like experience with a row of thumbnail previews to which you can navigate by holding down the Alt key, pressing the arrow keys multiple times until you reach the target page, and then releasing the Alt key.

In other words, do the same thing for history navigation that Dão Gottwald is doing for tab navigation with his Ctrl-Tab extension.

(Bonus points for version 2: track non-linear meanderings and expose them as parallel tracks to which you can navigate with the up and down arrows.)


Myk Melez

Myk is a Principal Software Architect and in-house entrepreneur at Mozilla. A Mozillian since 1999, he's contributed to the Web App Developer Initiative, PluotSorbet, Open Web Apps, Firefox OS Simulator, Jetpack, Raindrop, Snowl, Personas, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Bugzilla. He's just a cook. He's all out of bubblegum.


5 thoughts on “Alt-Tab-like history navigation

  1. The meandering part would be a killer feature and one that I’ve never understood why it’s not part of the default back/forward. Hope to see this one around soon.

  2. Wouldn’t the history for a single tab be 1 dimensional? That’s how the Alt+arrow works now.

    If for all tabs for the current window (or all windows), I could see it getting confusing. Visual global history branching is very exciting, but I’m not sure how it would work when navigating within a tab. I guess it’s the difference between session (particular tab) history and global history.

    Oh, unless session history is expanded to 2 dimensions, but wouldn’t branching only occur in the forward direction?
    Though after branching and viewing more pages, there will be a branch point somewhere in the back direction, so back history would be 2D as well.

  3. Paul: I agree that trying to create a visual view of history for all tabs could be confusing and is fraught with difficulty, so I was thinking of alt-arrows just navigating history for a single tab, as they currently do, but doing so visually, and allowing you to navigate across several pages at once instead of having to go step by step.

    As for branching, that again I was thinking would be tab-specific, and you’re right that the branching would be just in the forward direction, although you might see multiple branches stretching backwards until they come together at some point.

  4. Good idea.
    I wonder how would the cleanup be performed after one closes the browser window, after several hours of browsing around and whether that would use up a lot of resources during.

    Milos Musicki.

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