Google Groups

Inconsistent behaviour of command-click (or control-click) when opening new tabs


Stuart Cook Aug 19, 2011 11:02 PM
Posted in group: mozilla.dev.usability
In Firefox, the "normal" way to open a link in a new tab is to
middle-click on it. On systems without a middle mouse button (e.g. many
laptops) this is impossible, so the replacement gesture is to instead
control-click or command-click, depending on platform.

The problem is that there is a crucial difference between a true
middle-click and a simulated middle-click. Normally pages can listen for
middle-click events, but cannot prevent their default behaviour. This
means that a true middle-click will always open a link in a new
background tab. However, command-clicks don't get this special
treatment, and consequently pages can and do prevent the click from
having its usual effect, frustrating user expectations.

This is not just a theoretical concern. Gmail, for example, prevents the
default behaviour of command-clicks, and instead opens the selected link
in a new *foreground* tab. This makes it impossible to quickly open
several links from a single message.

What I find strange is that on OS X, the equivalent gesture for
simulating a right-click (using a control-click) does not suffer from
the same problem. In fact, pages always see an OS X control-click as
though it were a true right click, so they are unable to treat the two
differently.

Is this something that should be fixed? I know that I personally find it
very irritating.

TL;DR: Command-click sometimes works like a real middle-click, and
sometimes doesn't. The two should always be the same.