Posted by: felipe | March 23, 2011

New add-on: aaapptabs

I’ve been meaning to write a simple add-on for some time now, and today felt the perfect day to do it. I’ve noticed that all the sites that I use as app tabs are indeed web apps (or close enough); they manage their own navigation and URLs, such that I rarely need to use the navigation bar on those sites. So why not get even more screen real estate for them?

Aaapptabs does just that. Like the Add-ons manager, it hides the browser toolbars for all app tabs. The result is that, for Windows 7 with a maximized screen, the Firefox UI takes a grand total of 27 pixels in height. 🙂

Not unexpectedly, writing the add-on using the Jetpack Add-on SDK was a blast. The SDK is in 1.0 beta 4 and the existing APIs are really solid. The whole add-on code is less than 50 lines, it’s restartless, it deals correctly with being disabled/re-enabled. If you temporarily need to view the hidden toolbars, just go to the Add-ons manager and disable the add-on. Changes take effect instantly.

Install it from AMO or view the source.

Hat tip: combine it with Easy app tabs to toggle them with a double click


  1. Currently I moved the URL box into the titlebar to always have the extra space, so I’m more on the lookout for an addon that displays the page title in the URL box until I either hover or click on the URL box. How hard would that be to implement?

  2. Hoping to see this built-in soon.

    Oddly enough, there’s at least 2 other addons that do this:

    • Yep, and the first one is exact copy of the second one (illegally).

      Anyway, I’m curious. Felipe, I saw your comment in bug 637018. Did you fixed it with this add-on or it is caused by add-on?

      • Correction:
        Did you fixed it with this add-on or it is caused by those add-ons?

  3. Sweet! It would be great if Ctrl/Cmd+L brought back the awesome bar temporarily. The pop-up dialog does not have the full power.

  4. Yeah, this was planned for Firefox 4, but dropped because of timing constraints.

    If you want to help us put this into Firefox 5, I’d love to help you get it included!

  5. like the app tabs except for one thing: they don’t show up in panorama. panorama has become essential to me to navigate the 50+ tabs I keep open. but not seeing the apps in it sucks and makes them useless for me.

    • yo, the app tabs get reduced to favicons on the right side of each tab group in Panorama.

    • You can see the app’s favicons on the right edge of each tabgroup in Panorama. Is this what you’re looking for?

  6. For the most part (Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Pandora, etc.), this is a good idea.

    But I also app tab things like Wikipedia (or, for you, Reddit). I do it because it’s nice to be able to anchor these particular resources to one place. But it doesn’t necessarily mean I want all the navigation tools to go away.

    This isn’t so much a problem for the add-on, since you can choose to install it or not, (and maybe that means this comment is off-topic), but it could become worrisome if this is implement wholesale in Firefox 5. There would need to be some way to more finely tune the option.

  7. when I closed the browser and launched it again the apps tabs I pined were gone? am I going to pin them again everytime I open Firefox?

  8. Where do security indicators go? I expect that app tabs will be the ones for which security are the most critical for the user.

    • This is something I ignored for the add-on but we’ve taken into consideration for the m-c patch.
      The premise is that the user should only pin a tab if he trusts that website at that moment. If in the future there’s a certificate mismatch, we will show the about:certerror page (right?). And for certerror we will always show the navigation toolbar, even if it’s in an app tab.


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