Improve Focus and Recall with Home Dash 4

Ed Lee

Please download the latest Firefox 4 Beta to watch the WebM video.

Full-size video (0:50) downloads: webm (9mb) and ogv (9mb)


I’m looking at tweets about Home Dash and spot some interesting links. I use my mouse to open them with the context menu. A notification appears in the top-left corner reminding me that I opened a page in the background, and I could switch there by clicking its icon.

I could also switch to those pages by scrolling the mouse on the Firefox icon. From here I can quickly preview the pages and see that the various links turned out to be the same page. I right-click the Firefox icon to close them.

While looking at an article, I get a Gmail notification and click it to see that I got a message from Jinghua. I click the link in the chat and browse around. From the Firefox icon, I scroll to quickly look through the pages and return to Gmail to send a reply.

Now scrolling to the page after the dashed line, I jump right back to where I left off. Home Dash shows me my open pages to help remind me what I was doing before. In this case, I can quickly see that these are pages that were opened from Twitter.

Home Dash 4 focuses on improving how you switch through your open pages. Instead of seeing all your open pages in the top-right area when Home Dash appears, the visible pages will be limited to those that are relevant to the current page. The left-most thumbnail will always be the current page and thumbnails near the current page are related. The right-most thumbnail, past the dashed line, represents an unrelated page that you were looking at before switching to the current page.

This smaller group of relevant pages makes it easier to find a page that you’re actively using when you’re scanning through a list of thumbnails. Additionally, it’s easier to switch among these pages because the page switcher lets you quickly see previews of pages in the same order that they’re listed. So this means you’ll preview the pages that matter the most before any unrelated pages.

Only showing pages relevant to the current page

This page switching functionality is no longer limited to <ctrl-tab>-like keyboard shortcuts. Using just the mouse, you can now point at the Firefox icon to scroll through your open pages. If you can glance very quickly, you could even scroll through multiple pages in less than a second! But of course if you scroll too far, just scroll back in the other direction. Alternatively, if you feel like the Firefox icon is too far to move the mouse, you can do a 3-finger swipe to the right to get to the next page if your mouse supports that gesture.

Another new ability of the Firefox icon is to let you close the current page by right-clicking it. This works when you’re previewing a page as well. This means you can open a bunch of pages and use the preview to determine if you actually wanted a page or not without having to even switch to it. So not only are you focusing on relevant pages, you can easily filter them to a small group of pages to keep in your head by removing pages that you don’t want.

Recalling page context from thumbnails

But if you worry that your memory might not be as good as it used to be, you can worry less when it comes to recalling what you were doing on some random page. Whenever you switch to a different page, perhaps by clicking a notification from the top-left corner or selecting a pinned page, Home Dash will show your page context for a few seconds. Hopefully with the thumbnails, you’ll see the pages that you’ve opened or came from and remember what you were doing before.

With these changes of showing only relevant pages, the Prospector team hopes to integrate the idea and learning with the rest of the information shown in Home Dash. This means not only will the open pages automatically only show the relevant pages, the history results and top sites could also intelligently show the ones that you care about in your current context.

There’s many more fixes in Home Dash 4, so check out the full list of changes since Home Dash 3.

If you’ve already installed Home Dash, you should be getting an update soon. Otherwise, install Home Dash on a Firefox 4 Beta, and leave feedback or contribute! As a reminder, you can press <alt-ctrl-shift-d> to temporarily deactivate Home Dash.

.aligncenter { margin: auto; }