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Issue 1316: Scroll Wheel to switch tabs?
50 people starred this issue and may be notified of changes. Back to list
Status:  Fixed
Owner:  ----
Closed:  Aug 2009

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Reported by, Sep 4, 2008
It's a bit of a GTK-ism, but IMHO it would be neat if a scroll wheel event, 
when the mouse is over the tab strip, would switch tabs. Specifically, 
scroll wheel up would be equivalent to Ctrl-PgUp, and scroll wheel down be 

Sep 6, 2008
(No comment was entered for this change.)
Labels: -Type-Bug -Area-Unknown Type-Feature Area-BrowserUI
Sep 27, 2008
I wrote a patch for this.

Sep 28, 2008
I'm uncomfortable with this behavioral change.  It's not Windows native behavior, 
it's not supported by other browsers on Windows, and it's easy for a novice to mis-
trigger and be very confused.

I don't think we should do this, at least on Windows.  Maybe it makes sense in the 
Linux build.
Labels: -Pri-2 Pri-3
Sep 28, 2008
I think it would be a reasonable feature, though I agree about accidental triggering.  
Personally, I'm happy with Ctrl-Tab and Ctrl-Shift-Tab.

This is an example of why I would like to see many, many options controlling various 
aspects of Chrome's behavior.  Assuming, of course, that it didn't add too much 

Oct 8, 2008
After thinking about it for a bit I'm not sure we want to support this behavior, on 
Windows at least. Let's wait for the Linux version before making a decision. 
Jan 7, 2009
(No comment was entered for this change.)
Status: Untriaged
Owner: ---
Labels: Linux Mstone-X
Jan 13, 2009
(No comment was entered for this change.)
Status: Available
Jan 14, 2009
#9 jamesacuan
I have tried this feature using Firefox add-on. It's actually nice but most of the 
time tab-switching triggers accidentally.
Jan 14, 2009
I understand that this feature request might be rejected for being non-Windowsy, but 
I just wanted to add that it's nicer on Chrome (when maximized) than for Firefox 
because the tab strip being at the top gives a Fitts-Law-friendly large target, a la 
the Mac OS menubar. Switching tabs would be just slamming the mouse to the top of the 
screen and then notching the scroll wheel, rather than having to carefully move the 
mouse over the specific tab button (and making sure not place the mouse over the 
close-button X) and clicking.
Jan 14, 2009
Comment 10 has a very good point
Jan 14, 2009
agree with feature request, especially with #10 explanation

i don't think it should be default behaviour, tho
Feb 7, 2009
#13 phistuck
How about adding support for a Shift+MouseWheel to switch tabs?
(Control+Wheel does the zoom thing, let us use the wheel plus other keys for other 
Feb 10, 2009
    Mouse Wheel for tab switching behavior, only if Right Mouse Button is pressed 

    1. Moving the Mouse to the Top and srcoll Mouse Wheel does not provide any usage 
       advantage. (Time, Movement)
    2. Any Keyboard button + Mousewheel adds unnessesary second hand interface
    3. I made testings inside my company, with about 30 people, who should this build 
       in feature in Avant Browser.
       -> Every one is comfortable with this. Don't delimitate the user experiance.

    1. A "Right Click" in general provides additional information. So it does on 
       Mouse Wheel Scrolling. Jusst deactivate the Context menu after mouse wheel is 
       Irritating the user is therefore disqualified.
    2. Bad Redundant behavior
       Mouse Wheel Scrolling and Right Mouse Button Pressed + Mouse Wheel Scrolling. 
       There is place for the second mouse behavior besides Page Scrolling.
       -> Redundance distsurbes the user more, than an additional feature.

Therefore a default beahvior of "Right Mouse Click + Mouse Wheel from anywhere in 
frame" should be implemented.

Mar 4, 2009
Possibly related feature request:  issue 6118  .
Mar 5, 2009
I'm not sure if this is the right issue to post but actually, the only problem which 
keeps me away from using Chrome is the tab behavior. I personally keep all my tabs 
open and i track a lot of web sites which gives me 40+ tabs for my sessions. 
(Sometimes i end up opening 100+ tabs). In firefox, i can easily use those 100+ tabs 
with my mouse wheel because tabs are big enough for me to understand which page 
contain which information + i can move from tab 1 to tab 100 in few seconds while i 
can find what i look for, for instance in tab 33.

I know the idea behind Chrome's tab behaviour is very different but for me there 
should be a minimum size of a tab and a horizontal scroll behavior between tabs. (It 
should not activate the tab like advised above but show the unactivated tab.)

As i explained above, the default behaviour of chrome is not usable for me or anyone 
who uses a lot of tabs in one session. I mis closed many times my tabs which is 
frustrating. (Is there a reopen closed tab feature in chrome BTW?) 

Mar 6, 2009
#17 phistuck
@ufukaltinok, there is - Control+T (or simply open a new tab that will show the New 
Tab page), on the bottom right there is a "Recently closed tabs" section, click on 
the tab and it will reopen with all of the information.
May 29, 2009
We already want:

* ctrl + scroll to zoom in/out.
* alt + scroll to scroll up/down by 1 line.

bug 927 wants:

* shift + scroll for going back/forward like on IE/FF.

I think we're out of meta keys. Unless we start doing combinations of them...

May 29, 2009
alt + scroll is bug 7222, BTW.
Jun 26, 2009
this is standard behavior throughout my gnome desktop on linux. my tabbed terminals do 
it, my IM client does it, my text editor does it, my config dialogs do it... will you 
please permit my web browser to do it?
Jun 28, 2009
Office 2007 does this.
Jun 28, 2009
I love tab scrolling via mouse wheel. It's very quick & easy, and I feel limited when 
I can't do it. :-/
If a user is unfamiliar with it and triggers it accidentally, chances are they will 
simply have discovered another way to switch tabs. If they're "confused" they can 
simply switch back to the tab they want by the means they're familiar with.
Firefox also does this on Windows with addons.
Jul 9, 2009
The following revision refers to this bug: 

r20297 | | 2009-07-09 12:30:24 -0700 (Thu, 09 Jul 2009) | 5 lines
Changed paths:

Scroll-wheeling, whilst over the tab-strip, now switches tabs on GTK/Linux.

Review URL:

Aug 8, 2009
Prior to (Official Build 22553), using the mouse wheel would "wrap 
around", meaning that scrolling down while on the last tab would switch to the first 
tab, and scrolling up on the first tab switched to the last. This (in addition to 
being *extremely* convenient) corresponded with how Ctrl+PageDown/Up works.

However, after upgrading to, it no longer does this. Scrolling down on the 
last tab does nothing. To get to the first tab, you must scroll up quite a bit (if 
you have many tabs open). This is very inconvenient.

Summary: using the scroll wheel to change tabs no longer wraps around from first to 
last tab (and vice versa).

Should this be filed as a separate bug?
Aug 9, 2009
No, this is the intended behavior.  It matches GTKs behavior.  This is fixed btw.
Status: Fixed
Aug 14, 2009
i want to scroll pages by pressing the mouse wheel is it possible? i am using kubuntu.
Nov 6, 2009
#28 KapDave
This is a feature of the Tab Mix Plus extension for FireFox and one of the few
features keeping me from switching over to Chrome as my default browser, on Windows.
 I believe if you're so afraid of adding it to the Windows version for fear of it not
being a default Windows function, you should at least add it as an option to
configure.  Default it off, allow me (and others) to turn it on.  This is exactly how
it works with Tab Mix Plus (requires going into about:config) and I see no good
reason to make it Linux-only.
Nov 8, 2009
I'd love to see that feature in Windows as it's really a lot easier to navigate through your tabs.
As I usually have many tabs opened I sometimes have to "clean up" and close all the tabs I dont need 
anymore. Or before fully closing my chrome I want to check wether I still have something important 
That is very convenient with mouse-wheel tabbing as I can use my right hand to navigate through all of 
them while using my left hand to close them with ctrl+w

Firefox got this feature on by default.
Nov 10, 2009
what about a config setting that defaults to on for linux, and off for windows?
Nov 18, 2009
Seconded; I also want this feature for Windows build of Chrome.
Jan 19, 2010
I use firefox with tabmixpro essentially for this feature, when chrome came up I missed 
this feature, infact I almost dependent on it, it is actually awkward for me to go and 
switch by clicking, also I like this gesture because it doesn't require the other hand 
to do anything.
Jan 19, 2010
As a workaround you can use AutoHotKey with script like the one in attachment
1.4 KB   View   Download
Jan 19, 2010
I'm uncomfortable with this behavioral change.  It's not Windows native behavior, 
it's not supported by other browsers on Windows, and it's easy for a novice to mis-
trigger and be very confused.

I don't think we should do this, at least on Windows.  Maybe it makes sense in the 
Linux build.

Jan 19, 2010
It's not that easily mistriggered, and if you do it's easily figured out. You'll have switched to another tab, and it'll have happened by rolling the scroll wheel in the wrong place. Even if you don't realize how you did it at first, it's easy enough to switch back to the tab you want. No harm done.
Simply scrolling on the tab bar is much easier and has a more efficient feel than any other suggestion, including holding right-click.
Jan 19, 2010
Considering this functionality was added and intended for the Linux build, perhaps
the best course of action would be to add a start-up parameter to allow Windows users
to turn it on.  --EnableScrollWheelTabSwtich specific enough?  This way it defaults
off to fit native Windows behavior but the code ends up usable to everyone and not
merely segregated to Linux.  Considering Chrome does not have an about:config page,
this seems like the only compromise to please both parties in this matter.
Jan 19, 2010
Why is a command line parameter a better solution compared to a simple user-friendly 
check-box in the options?

Jan 19, 2010
Definitely better to have it configurable in the options.
Jan 21, 2010
This feature is the only thing keeping me from switching over from firefox. 
Jan 21, 2010
I use my scroll wheel to switch tabs in Safari (with the Safari Stand extension) and Firefox (with TabMixPlus) on 
Mac OS X, and would love to have it in Chrome—in fact, it's probably the only thing really preventing me from 
switching to Chrome as my default browser. I don't really care if it's built-in, but perhaps mouse events could be 
exposed in the tab extension API? I'd gladly write the extension myself, if I could, if it will be permanently left 
out of the Mac version.
Mar 6, 2010
Just because I choose to use windows does not mean I don't like functionality.  I don't 
see how anyone would be confused if the behaviour is off by default.  
The lack of customization available for tabs is really annoying in chrome.  
Mar 23, 2010
#42 KapDave
Hey, now that we have extensions, does anyone mind turning this functionality into an
extension for us lowly folks who don't know much about development?  :)
Mar 23, 2010
@KapDave: That would certainly be possible... except extensions don't work on 
chrome:// URLs. So if you use the scroll wheel to switch to (for instance) the New Tab 
Page, you won't be able to use the scroll wheel to switch out.

The Chrome guys are planning on making an API that would allow you to listen for 
events globally. Once that happens, such an extension should be possible. Until then, 
you could make an extension like that, but it wouldn't work right on chrome:// URLs.
Mar 23, 2010
@pcxunlimited and @KapDave,

Granted, I'm not intimately familiar with the extensions API, but I could find nothing resembling mouse events on 
tabs or the tab bar. Unless this has been added recently, I'm pretty certain it can't be implemented as an 
extension, even with the caveat that it would stop working in chrome:// URLs.

The functionality is already built in the core browser. There really shouldn't be any reason it can't be an option in 
preferences, even if hidden away somewhere for Mac and WIndows versions.
Mar 23, 2010
@gnosis: You can set up a content script that will run on every page (but not 
chrome:// URLs). That content script can then add a "mousescroll" event and use 
message passing to tell the background page to switch tabs.

Granted, it's a horrible hack and I agree that it should be handled by the browser 
(especially since it already works on Linux). Nonetheless, such an extension is 
possible, even if it's a bit hacky.
Mar 23, 2010
#46 KapDave
I want a replacement for FireFox and this is one of the few things that's keeping me
out of Chrome.  I don't care of chrome:// URLs work or not, if regular http(s)://
works I'll be happy as can be to take an extension for it!
Apr 15, 2010
I believe that this feature is really annoying because I am used to close tabs by 
pressing the mouse wheel. With this feature, whenever I try to close a tab, I switch 
to another tab. I strongly suggest that this feature can be disabled by the user.
Apr 15, 2010
@laevus.y: I think you are confused. A mouse wheel *click* closes a tab. We're talking 
about a mouse wheel *scroll*, not click. 
Apr 15, 2010
I think he means he keeps scrolling on accident while trying to close a tab (and 
potentially closing the wrong one). Fortunately you can undo closing a tab. 
Personally, I use both - scrolling to switch, and middle-click to close tabs without 
difficulty. Perhaps you need a better mouse? Or just click the X instead.
Apr 15, 2010
It doesn't matter if the scroll wheel moves or not when you middle-click to close a
tab.  You have to hover your cursor over the tab in order to middle-click and close
it; whether that tab is active or not makes no difference since tabs don't move
around when you're scrolling between them.
Apr 21, 2010
I vote for right mouse button + scroll to switch tabs. I really like that, first thing 
I installed in Firefox when I switched from Maxthon (yes maxthon has it too).
Apr 21, 2010
Mouse button 2 + scroll will behave unexpectedly on OS X, as a context menu is expected to appear on button 2 
mousedown (rather than mouseup, as on Windows).

The more I think about this, the more I think Google should just expose UI mouse events to the extensions API 
and let us sort out proper behavior.
Apr 21, 2010
#53 KapDave
Here's what I don't understand.

Under Linux, if you hover your mouse over Chrome's tab bar and scroll your mouse
wheel, the tabs change.

Under Windows and Mac, if you hover your mouse over Chrome's tab bar and scroll your
mouse wheel, nothing happens.

Is it really worth wasting all our time arguing in this thread to simply _add_
functionality where there previously is none?  I've yet to see anyone make a solid
case for why they'd rather _not_ have this functionality, so how about closing down a
2 year old thread by simply adding it?
Apr 21, 2010
The argument against it on Windows and Mac was that it's not a common behavior on those UIs. The counter-
argument is that many of us use plugins to achieve it on those UIs. The proposed compromise is to enable the 
functionality in Chrome, turned off by default, and add a preference for it.

I don't think there's much to debate either. There is the matter of overloading preferences (which can be 
addressed with a hidden/more powerful preference pane like Firefox has), and the matter of users preferring 
different gestures for the action (which can be addressed in the extensions API as I suggested).
Apr 22, 2010
I don't really like the feature: the negative aspect of it is that there will be 
accidental tab switches when I really want to scroll down the web page. Happens to me 
very often actually. And what are the positive aspects? Is anybody really mouse 
scrolling over the tabs to switch? Just left-click on the tab and you can switch with 
more accuracy anyway!
Apr 22, 2010

No one is suggesting forcing the feature on you. I think everyone requesting the feature would be satisfied with 
it disabled by default.

The benefit of the feature is that it allows infinite tab switching with no mouse movement. It also negates the 
effect of increasingly narrow tabs, and avoids accidental clicks which close or move tabs. But again, if none of 
that appears to you, you shouldn't enable it.

"Is anybody really mouse scrolling over the tabs to switch?"

Obviously yes, many people have said as much in this thread, and there are extensions to enable the feature in 
most other browsers.
May 8, 2010
This is the only thing that keeps me from using chrome :/
May 8, 2010
#58 phistuck
@rawgue - What, the lack of this feature on Windows(and Macintosh? not sure)?
Well, do not count on it. Maybe when extensions have access to global mouse events, it 
will be possible to implement it. Until then - there is no hope for you. Sorry.
May 8, 2010
If this entire thread is going to be a constant stream of people asking for the
feature clashing with a constant stream of people denying it, can we just close this
thread?  Google already incorrectly marked it as "fixed" anyway; how about someone
start up a new thread with a more specific request?
May 8, 2010

I hadn't noticed they marked this as fixed. That probably explains why it's gone so long without any kind of 
official comment. I'm skeptical that the request could be any more specific than it already is. If you have 
something in mind, would you go ahead and do it and link back here so those of us who are interested can 
follow it?
May 8, 2010
I'll do you one better.  Use the already-created suggestion thread concerning scroll
wheel tab switching and bump it up.
May 8, 2010

The page you linked is not discussing the same feature. This request is for using the mouse wheel to change 
tabs. The page you linked is discussing having a minimum tab width and a UI for overflowing tabs after that 
minimum width has been reached. The features can of course be combined, but they are entirely different 
May 8, 2010
#63 KapDave
Whoops.  You're absolutely right.  Here's a link to the new request.
Sep 2, 2010
#64 liam.arbetman
So, how is this fixed?
Sep 2, 2010
@liam.arbetman: Seems to be working fine on GNU/Linux. Unfortunately, the Chrome team has not implemented it for Windows or OS X. You will need an extension on those operating systems.

I would write the extension myself, but I'm on GNU/Linux, so I won't be able to tell whether the extension is actually working or not. I'll see if I can get it working on my Windows partition...
Sep 2, 2010
This is working in Linux now, but I would actually like to have an option to switch it off. :)
Sep 2, 2010
#67 KapDave
@pcxunlimited  Someone tried to write a similar extension but it is only half-working, never updated, and requires pushing a button. If you'd like, I wouldn't mind installing your extension tests (not sure how hard it is to bundle for install, though) on my Windows system to help you out.  If you check that feature request link just 2 posts above yours, you'd be making a lot of people really happy if you created this extension!
Sep 2, 2010
#68 liam.arbetman
@pcxunlimited Thanks for the clarification. Also, the research. I too would be interested and willing to help test. 
Sep 2, 2010
Same here. This is the single biggest thing I miss from Firefox.
Sep 2, 2010
Unless the extensions API has changed recently, there is simply no way to implement this correctly as an extension. The tab bar and tabs do not fire mouse events. The workaround some extensions have used is to inject a script into the body of pages, which detects mouse events. But this fails for internal pages (like the "new tab" page and any other page implemented by Chrome itself), which does not allow script injection for obvious reasons.

The only way to do this is to either add the feature directly to the chrome (small-c) or to add mouse events to the tab extension API, both at the application source level. They've done this for Linux, but have so far refused to do so for OS X or Windows for reasons of "consistency" that are pretty spurious.
Sep 3, 2010
@gnosis: You're right, but even if it is hacky, and requires rather silly workarounds, it would still be better to have a partial solution as an extension, than no solution.

Oh, and, this bug has no owner. And it looks like it has no Cc either. I assume that means the Chrome team isn't even receiving any e-mails about this.

That's actually a good thing. Sometimes a Chrome team member will restrict a bug so that people can't comment in it anymore. The silence means we can discuss amongst ourselves how to solve this problem.

The solution will come when a global input API is added to the Chrome extension system. I highly doubt the Chrome team will implement this natively for Windows or OS X, so we will just have to wait for better extension APIs.
Sep 3, 2010
Alright, I've got some bad news. I just whipped up an extension to test if this is even feasible: it isn't.

The technical reason is that Chrome doesn't seem to fire any mouse events unless the mouse is actually inside the page. In other words, extensions can't detect when you scroll the mouse wheel while over the tab strip. But we can detect when you scroll the mouse wheel while inside the page.

So... it would be possible to write an extension that lets you switch tabs by scrolling the mouse wheel, but your mouse cursor would need to be inside the page for it to work.

Somebody already made an extension that does that, and I understand that's not really the ideal solution, but it's the best one until the Chrome team adds in a global input API.

When that API becomes available, it should be a piece of cake to write an extension that does this.
Sep 3, 2010
#73 liam.arbetman
Thanks to all the responders. So, does anyone have a link to a ticket (if one exists?) where we can complain about the API not supporting this?
Sep 3, 2010
 Issue 22653  appears to be mostly about keyboard APIs.
 Issue 43065  seems to be about catching global mouse input.
 Issue 31442  looks sorta like what we would need.
Sep 3, 2010
If you're going to make an extension that operates in-page it should probably operate like similar firefox extensions - that is, hold right click and scroll the wheel.
Sep 3, 2010
#76 KapDave
There is only one extension I can find that lets you change tabs with the mouse wheel and it does not always work and has the command key set as any mouse button or alt.  If you want to make a better extension, all I can ask is that you make the command button bindable and actually make sure it works on pages that contain flash or java; which seem to be the most likely cause of why the current chrome extension breaks, as it was the reason tabmixplus would break in Firefox.
Sep 4, 2010
@KapDave: Extensions should work fine on pages that contain Flash/Java. The problem is, after you click on a plugin, it has focus. Once it has focus, the browser does not have focus. This doesn't just affect extensions... next time you're watching a YouTube video, try pressing Ctrl+L.

Plugins are essentially a separate world: once they have focus, they eat all input, including mouse and keyboard. There is actually a Chrome bug filed about this: Issue 25756
Sep 4, 2010
BTW its possible to bundle NPAPI plugin with extension so global mouseevents could be intercepted that way (use winapi to find chrome window and hook interesting events).
At the very least it should be possible to implement equivalent of autohotkey script I've posted above.
Unfortunately that needs someone knowledgeable in WINAPI and NPAPI.
Nov 3, 2010
I would like an option to turn this feature off in Linux.  I use a VX Nano mouse in freewheeling mode (no clicks on mouse wheel) where the wheel is rather sensitive. I don't like this feature at all.
Nov 9, 2010
I think this would be a great feature of chromium / chrome, I don't understand why you stuck it in linux and removed it in windows, I think it would have been much smarter to put a checkbox in preferences and let the users decide to have or not have it no matter the OS, I for example would very much have this feature both in linux and windows, whay not have it as an option?
Nov 17, 2010
Here is the rub for Linux users: it's a feature of Gnome first and foremost - all programs basically do this if they have tabs (options pages for example).

I don't think it was ever even introduced in Windows, it was marked as fixed and has since been ignored.

The question is - for us half-windows-users - is there yet a solution to tab-scrolling?
Nov 17, 2010
Let me say too that it would be great if Google simply added it and called it the GTK tab scroll or something. Or Windows users who want this should be talking to the other, now smaller, software maker because it's your OS, your way? Amirite?
Nov 17, 2010
#83 KapDave
The solution has been implemented in Firefox on Windows.  The question is whether Google will add it to Chrome on Windows to match their competition.  So far, the answer is no.
Nov 17, 2010
tab control ability in chrome is generally much weaker than firefox.
that's why I'm NOT switching to chrome.
Nov 17, 2010
#85 phistuck
I encourage everyone who is looking to see this happening on Windows (and maybe Macintosh?) to star  Issue chrome-convenience-extension:31 .
Feb 4, 2011
We need to have the status changed away from "Fixed." This is being overlooked.
Feb 18, 2011
I accidentally discovered that this feature actually works today, however it does not work for my co-worker. Both of our browsers are "up-to-date" and we are both running Win 7 x64. Perhaps it is a feature of an extension that I have?
Feb 18, 2011
Indeed it was recently added to chrome-toolbox extension:
Feb 18, 2011
This chrome-toolbox function is NOT WORKING when the chrome window is on the second monitor! What a big BUG~~~
Feb 19, 2011
There is scarcely any information about how to actually get from that source code to a working extension with the tab-scroll plugin, but from what I can gather looking at the source it seems to be probably Windows-only? Is that correct?
Feb 19, 2011
Well you can download working extension from official chrome extensions store.
And yes, it looks like native plugin part is Win32 only, with no platform abstraction layer. But the amount of winapi calls is quite small, its mostly about hooking into native window events.

I suggest that you file such bugs in chrome-toolbox issue tracker.
Feb 19, 2011
@mwisnicki - whatever~ I gave up on chrome long time ago, their developer team seems only interested in how to make the chrome very very fast(to most people their bottleneck is their Internet bandwidth though) and ignore the importance of user interaction.

I think it's a culture thing for Google~, they did a lot of amazing stuff at the backstage, but sucked at their UI...(Caused so many failures on their products and they just don't learn~)

Another thing really bothered me on Chrome is the drag and drop function, none of the extension is working as I expected....

Google is clever enough to know that browser is now much more important then other applications on a PC, but they can't realize for such an important application people usually hope it is highly customizable, since we spent so much time on it every day.
May 1, 2011
For those on Windows still wondering, there is an extension for this by Google already. It is downloadable here:
May 31, 2011
Opera got it right, just like it did with tabs, speed dial, mouse gestures, synch, ...etc.
Oct 21, 2011
Chrome Toolbox (by Google)

Use this extension and scroll tabs !
Oct 31, 2011
Chrome Toolbox no longer has this feature. At least not when I'm using it in Chrome 16.x. Chrome Toolbox has been completely changed and is useless to me now :(
Oct 13, 2012
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