Why our links don’t open in a new window (and how to make it so that yours do!)

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Want links to open in a new window? We suggest using CTRL-click. Photo by Stephen Heron used by CC license.
Want links to open in a new window? We suggest using CTRL-click. Photo by Stephen Heron used by CC license.

Once a month or so I get an email from a well-intentioned reader, politely suggesting that it would be much more convenient for them if we would make it so that all links on Offbeat Bride opened in a new window.

My response is always the same: Not having links open in new windows is a very conscious decision based on my 20 years of internet use.

Here are a few reasons why we don’t have links open in a new browser tab or window:

  • I’m not going to force browsing behaviors on my readers. As a web user, I hate it when a website forces me to play by its game. If I want to open a link in a new tab, I’ll do it that. I don’t want your website telling me how to browse, and I don’t want my website telling YOU how to browse.
  • It breaks the “back” button function. For lotsa web users, their browser’s back button is a big part of how they navigate the web. When you force a new window open, you spawn a new tab/window with no back-button function. Users forget where tabs and windows came from. It’s confusing.
  • It’s an accessibility issue. More info here.

If you like your links to open in a new window, here’s one of many ways to do it super easily:

Hold down the CTRL key when you click a link.

(It’s the command key if you’re using a Mac.)

Alternately, you can right-click to open new tabs — there are a lot of ways to open links in new tabs, all of which are each and quick, and all of which give you complete control over your browsing experience, without enforcing it on everyone else.

Comments on Why our links don’t open in a new window (and how to make it so that yours do!)

  1. I’m an avid right-click, open in a new tab kinda browser.
    Open in a new window? PAH. My popup blockers say nay.

    • I’m the same – I love my tabs! I currently have 6 open, and that’s not even a lot. I agree that people should have a choice in how they open things, I may just adopt this theory myself 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for writing this. Forcing links to open in new windows is a TERRIBLE issue and major UX crime. So bad that it makes Strict HTML markup “invalid”!

    • RIGHT!? The most baffling was when I got an email from a someone pitching their marketing consulting services. She said “As a freebie, I’ll give you this piece of web marketing advice: all your off-site links need to open in new windows.”

      It was a nice quick way to know the consulting services being offered weren’t a good fit with my business goals.

      • As a primarily mobile user, links that open in new windows drive me batty. My iPad only gets 9 total, so if I already have 9 open the new one automatically overrides a random one existing (that I wanted still!!) *and* breaks the “back” button.

        Hugely appreciate having the control myself for how the content opens.

  3. For the record… I LOVE that the Offbeat Empire’s links don’t open in new windows… I only have the net at work so mainly check out sites like this when I’m actually supposed to be… Um… Working. When links open in new windows, they nearly always open in the exact spot where my boss can see my computer from his desk. haha

  4. I never notice which websites open links in new windows themselves, because I am an avid ctrl clicker already. If I click on a link without it, it’s because I want it in that tab!

  5. Depending on your browser, clicking the middle button (aka scroll wheel) opens links in a new tab.

    On a related topic, you know what else I hate? WHEN WEBSITES RESIZE YOUR BROWSER WINDOW. Gah!

    • Yeah, there are lots of options depending on your operating system, mouse, and browser: right click/new tab, middle button/scroll wheel click, etc. Peoples got options! 🙂

  6. I actually love this about the Offbeat Empire – what do these people think tabbed browsing was invented for? Plus, if you’re curled up in a ball using only one eye and one wrist to prat about on the internet (my favourite position) then additional windows are super hard to deal with.

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