Possible Duplicate:
make links posted by users open in a new window

It always annoys me when I go to click a link on a Stack Exchange site within a question, comment, or answer and it targets the current tab, making it so I have to go back to return to the question I was on after going to another question or going to an external webpage.

All anchor tags should use target="_blank" by default. I'm sure it's quite possible, Gmail does it. I have just gotten in the habit of doing Ctrl + click so that it will open in a new tab.

I think this would be a good feature, because most of the time we don't want to leave the question we are on. We want to stay there, so we can answer the question. We just need to see the link in order to help answer the question.

It has just always been a pain trying to get back to questions we were on, so I propose that by default links in questions, comments, and answers open new tabs.

  • 8
    It's universally frowned upon by the technical crowd. But if you like it that much, you can always apply a userscript for yourself. – mario May 14 '11 at 0:33

Jeff Atwood, Stack Exchange CTO, retweeted this tweet a few days ago, which links to


Why is target="_blank" a bad practice? Because for every one person it pleases, it annoys ten others. Most people don't like their desktop cluttered with new windows (I suppose it's marginally better if your browser settings are set to open things in new tabs) because every website has decided to make leaving the website open in a new window. They're going somewhere; let them go and don't force them to come back.

Jakob Nielsen, the respected UI guru, has made this point clear.

  • 3
    This flowchart is so good I feel like downvoting all other answers that come in. – Nicole May 14 '11 at 0:03
  • Targeting a new tab is much better practice than a new window, which is what I always want. I hate new windows too. I do not agree with Jakob Nielson, that post is 11 years old. Part of great UI dev is not just sticking to browser default behavior, most clients don't know nor will ever know what those are. Great UI dev means making the best experience for your users, which means making a decision that is more intuitive and helpful. I think leaving your main window in a UI for an ext. link is very bad practice, as is opening a new window. My suggestion clearly states "open new tabs" – UpHelix May 18 '11 at 22:17
  • @Dale From a technical perspective, the server cannot choose between tab and window; only the browser can make that distinction. – waiwai933 May 18 '11 at 22:23
  • Right, but all modern browsers open in tabs by default, eventually we will shake ourselves from the old browsers, hopefully :) – UpHelix May 18 '11 at 22:26
  • For a hilarious example of irony, Twitter opens the link to the TwitPic graphic (that Jeff re-posted) using target="_blank". – Michael Gaskill Jun 21 '16 at 22:16

Personally, I hate when sites start launching windows all over the place without my consent. If I wanted a new window or tab, I would've opened one.

Use the tools available to you: as you mentioned, you can open links in a new window by using the middle mouse button or, holding Ctrl while clicking (Windows, Linux?), or by holding Command while clicking (Mac OS X). What's wrong with that? You want links to behave differently than normal, so you in turn have to do something slightly different. It's one extra key press.

The upside is that this works for virtually any link on any website, so you don't have to rely on sites adding target="_blank" to all their external links.


If you have a mouse with a middle button or a clickable scrollwheel, just use that instead to open links in a new tab. No need for an extra key press.

As others already said, target="_blank" is bad for UX. It changes the default browser behaviour.


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