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I've searched the web for a standard on when to open links in new tabs, found no standard but found a lot of posts in which clearly experienced web users were saying that they needed control over the UI.

I know that you can always open a link in a new window by using shortcuts but I had the following experience on Stack Exchange and in forum software:

  • when I had to open posts/threads I was naturally right clicking the link and hit "open in new tab" when I wanted that.
  • but when I was reading a post and I found a link in the middle of a sentence I was just clicking (I was doing this automatically).

I was wondering from where did I caught this reflex...and one place is the e-mail:

  • if you are using an e-mail client obviusly the links have to open in a browser -> but you don't have to ctrl+click them... or any of new tab link opener shortcuts.
  • also I've tested a few webmails (yahoo, gmail, roundcube, aol ...) they all use new tabs for links in messages (not for the rest of the site)!

So I thought a little at this, also found this website again about "when to open links in new tabs" that suggested an interesting approach for web-developers: to show a small link will open in new tab warning to users when they were hovering a link that would open in a new tab.

From that my idea: A new feature for links in answer/question content, when hovered a small text can be showed that will open the given link in a new tab like "open link in new tab".

This way the default function of the site/links won't be changed, the user will not loose any control over the UI and the user will be able to get one-click new tab for links that are in a place where he would expect them to open in new tabs.

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To open a link in a new tab (on most browsers) you can either:

  • Right click and open the link from the menu, as you've already said.
  • Hold Ctrl and click to open the link.
  • Hold ⇧ Shift + Ctrl and click to open the link and navigate to that page.
  • Middle click on the link, if you have a mouse with a third button (such as a scroll wheel mouse).

As the browser already implements a solution I don't see the need for Stack Exchange to implement another.

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  • Yep. It's pretty straightforward to do yourself. Not sure how adding some on-hover option would improve the interface. Most people wouldn't sit there and wait for the pop-up anyway and just use the standard shortcuts. The only possibly viable change I could see about this is a profile option where all links you click open in new tabs rather than the current frame (which would actually be kind of cool, and I would use). – asteri Oct 18 '13 at 23:35
  • That last would be this feature request @Jeff :-) – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 18 '13 at 23:36
  • Haha, well, not quite. I meant something optional rather than enforced on everyone. Just a checkbox on your profile page or something. But regardless, it's out of scope for this question. – asteri Oct 18 '13 at 23:37
  • @Jeff, "Most people wouldn't sit there and wait for the pop-up anyway" -- but why would there be a delay? (Not that I want this feature.) – Arjan Oct 18 '13 at 23:37
  • @Arjan Good point. I suppose I'm just thinking of most standard UIs where tooltips only appear after a certain amount of hover time. – asteri Oct 18 '13 at 23:38
  • @benisuǝqbackwards: when using webmail you do browser shortcut? or just click? – jnhghy - Alexandru Jantea Oct 19 '13 at 9:28
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I think this would be very very bad, on any website. In fact I hate it when sites open a new link (at least without telling me, and having that text is then clutter).

I think you have to take the plunge and just train yourself to get into a rhythm. You're asking for the option to open a new tab by having to wait, but you already have this feature inbuilt in your browser for every website you visit without the delay.

So as ben is uǝq backwards has listed, you should choose one of those choices and start getting into the habit of using it. Then whatever site you're on, if your finished with the current page left click, if you're still reading and/or have more links to open (such as Google is the main one I new-tab in to compare a load of results) then use a shortcut.

I find setting the mouse scroll wheel to do this is the best option. As it's fast. It avoids holding down keys, or right-clicking and menu click, and as your hand is on the mouse, it's easy to hover and scroll wheel click.

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  • Although there is an annoyance with this where (very occasionally, once a week) scroll wheel doesn't click and instead the page just wobbles up and down and I end up fighting with the mouse pointer with physical mouse movement and the scroll wheel trying to hover the dam link again.. maybe I need a better mouse..or more patience.. – James Oct 19 '13 at 0:23
  • I got your point, but it doesn't get too many points for touch screen laptops or non-touch screen laptops...whare you have a touch pad ... – jnhghy - Alexandru Jantea Oct 19 '13 at 9:30
  • I agree with "I hate it when sites open a new link" but that's not what the feature request is suggesting? And as for "asking for the option to open a new tab by having to wait", why do you think it would be implemented with a delay? (I don't like the feature request as it would just annoy me to see that hover thing whenever I just want to click. And indeed I don't understand why people would want this for some specific site, while the internet is so much bigger and one should just learn to master their browser.) – Arjan Oct 19 '13 at 10:00
  • @Arjan The point I was making was sites opening in a new tab is annoying, and to provide a hover option to do this is almost as annoying. It lead to my point which was all this is pointless as we already have numerous ways to do this. Also, popups in general are annoying, too many usually makes me leave a site. When they're everywhere and for pointless reasons, it's distracting when you're trying to hover to click a link, or your mouse just randomly ends up there. Which is why I suspect a delay would be beneficial. – James Oct 19 '13 at 11:14
  • "all this is pointless as we already have numerous ways to do this" -- indeed, I couldn't agree more. – Arjan Oct 19 '13 at 12:23

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