Click links/files to open in new tab by default

That plugin doesn’t really address the underlying issue, as described by the plugin’s author in its README file:

The way this plugin works is through hijacking the clicks for the file explorer. This means that it won’t work for other parts of Obsidian like the quick switcher. This plugins is just a hack and Obsidian will need to implement the underlying functionality at the end of the day.

I’m not putting much effort into expanding on this plugin since it would essentially be a game of wackamole to hackily patch all potential use cases. If you’d like this functionality natively, I suggest submitting a feature request to Obsidian.

For me personally, this plugin has several shortcomings:

  • I would like clicking links to open the file in a new tab not just in file explorer, but also in quick switcher, and in the text of a page (and anywhere else), without having to hold the ctrl key as I click. I do not believe this plugin can do that - it only changes the behavior in file explorer, which would result in the IMO poor user experience of click and ctrl + click working oppositely in file explorer vs everywhere else.
  • In all of those same places (file explorer, quick switcher, links in files, etc), I would ideally also like to be able to ctrl + click to open in the same tab, for the rare cases where I do want to open in the same tab. I do not believe this plugin can do that either.
  • Even if this plugin could do what I’m looking for, having to search for and install a plugin takes work, so even in that case for users who would prefer links to open in a new tab by default (which seems to me like it may be a majority of users), it’d still be a quality of life improvement to have this functionality be the default behavior in core, or at least be configurable in core settings without having to find and install a plugin.

Obsidian acts like web browsers do right now so I wouldn’t say it goes against the typical expectation given that most people are familiar with the way web browsers operate.

I can understand where the decision to make links open in the current tab came from based on this logic of trying to emulate something users are familiar with, and I do think that’s generally a good UX design strategy, but in this case I think there’s more that would be useful to add to the analysis.

Using browsers cultivates the expectation in users that internal links will open in the same tab, and external links will open in new tabs. For me, I would consider a link to a different heading within the same file I’m working in to be an “internal link”, and I would indeed expect that to open in the current tab (i.e. just navigate me to that part of the page). But when I’m opening a different file (by clicking a link to a different file, using ctrl + O, using the file explorer, etc), I would consider that to be more akin to an “external link”, which browsers teach users to expect to open in a new tab.

I would also point out that over the last decade or so browsers have been increasingly switching their paradigm to make more actions that open URLs (such as opening a page from one’s recently closed tabs, or one’s bookmarks, or one’s history) open the resulting page in a new tab. They’ve also taken steps to make it easier than it used to be for users to open links in new tabs, including by providing a settings so users can make all links open in new tabs (which is exactly what this feature request is asking for in Obsidian), and by making “Open in new tab” usually the first item in the context menu you get when you right click a link (compare that to Obsidian where it is not). I think those changes (along with the creation of browser tabs in the first place, prior to which you used to have to have multiple browser windows open) are a reflection of the fact that the paradigm of opening links in the same tab has limitations that create friction for users under many circumstances.

Lastly, I’d like to say that I think IDEs are a better model for how Obsidian should work than browsers. Yes, browsers are more commonly used by more people, so they provide a more familiar paradigm to more users. But what you are actually trying to do in an IDE (simultaneously viewing and editing text, usually spread across different files) is IMO a much better match for what I think most users are doing in Obsidian as compared to what most users are usually doing in web browsers, which is often just viewing information - I know I often have a hand on my mouse and no hands on the keyboard while using a browser, which is almost never the case while I’m using Obsidian or an IDE. And there’s a good reason why IDEs work the way they do. It is much easier and quicker to view and edit text across different files when your editor understands how the files are related (Obsidian does this fairly well, with things like backlinks, which I would say are a very IDE-like feature), and also when you can easily open multiple related files at once and switch between them (this works okay in Obsidian, as long as you always ctrl + click when opening new files, but I think the point of this feature request is that it’d be significantly better if holding ctrl wasn’t necessary, as demonstrated by the popularity of the request)

What browser does that by default — is that a Chrome thing?

I don’t even understand what you want anymore.
The “Open in new tab” plugin literally does everything I need. When I click open on the note it opens to a new tab if it hasn’t opened yet. Or move to the already open note if it is already opened.

  • Click on the internal link and move to that part in the note
  • Click the external link and move to that note in the new tab if it doesn’t open yet or just move to the already open note.
    Done!. Perfect plugin

The author of the plugin “Open in new tab” (that you’re referring to) mentions that his solution is a hack and should be implemented by Obsidian itself.
That’s what I personally (and likely a lot of supporters of this feature) want.

3 Likes

+1 this feature

+1 bump to this. Good reasons for both workflows, so having a a toggle would be perfect.

I propose the toggle be presented as swapping the behavior:

  1. Click Opens in same tab / Ctrl-Click Opens a new tab
  2. Click Opens new tab / Ctrl-Click opens same tab
2 Likes

From the addon’s author:

The way this plugin works is through hijacking the clicks for the file explorer. This means that it won’t work for other parts of Obsidian like the quick switcher. This plugins is just a hack and Obsidian will need to implement the underlying functionality at the end of the day.

Having to hack around original functionality is brittle, and likely to break with any update affecting the hacked-around code. It also doesn’t work in all scenarios (again, because it’s a hack).

All that being said, I am still using the addon because it does address the need.

2 Likes

Is it too much to ask for settings for both cases?

“Links should open in: current/new tab”
“Links should re-use open tabs: true/false”

These two should cover the most common permutations, allowing people with more specific needs to surface their concerns once the air has cleared.

1 Like

+1 this really should be a default setting.

1 Like

The feature requests might be different, but they are closely related. It’s difficult to discuss them separately, when they scratch the same itch:

Links should never replace the currently active tab with different content.

Both FR have in common that opening a link always activates another tab. Both FR only differ in the situation, when the link is already open in another tab. One FR wants to open a new tab anyway, the other FR prefers to simply activate an existing tab. (Actually I think, that neither of these FR makes sense in a simplistic implementation. Good interaction design needs to cover some special cases. But they are difficult to discuss, when the discussion is split in two feature requests.)

Wording makes a difference. I don’t think that anybody asks for “reuse”. Quite the opposite. The current tab should not be reused for different content. Neither would I call the activation of an existing tab “reuse”, because it doesn’t change anything about that tab’s content. It simply activates an unchanged tab.

I also think that a large majority is more familiar with word processors than with IDEs. We are not writing code in Obsidian, we are editing texts. (I’m aware that techically speaking Markdown is a markup language.) But the main use case I’m aware of is writing and formatting text. (And yes, I’m aware that technically speaking we’re not formatting text, but marking up text.)

IMO, the benchmark for Obsidian’s desktop app are not IDEs like VS Code or XCode, but desktop writing tools like iA Writer, Ulysses or Scrivener, and desktop word processors like Word and Pages.

1 Like

I found a plugin complete the feature.
If anyone still need the feature please try it!
obsidian://show-plugin?id=new-tab-plus

Be aware of unknown sources and make sure you know what your trying to install.

To add another perspective to the conversation, I am a programmer by trade. Programming environments (IDEs like PyCharm and VS Code) open each file in a new tab by default, and this is the behavior my brain has been set to expect in text-editing programs, which is distinct from browser expectations. I mentally treat Obsidian more like an IDE than a browser, and so I bring those expectations with me.

It would be great to be able to have links open new tabs by default because very frequently I will look at something quickly through a link and close the tab, only to find myself lost, having to re-open the tab and go back.

1 Like

Throwing in my vote. Also I’d love if i could set control+click to open links in split view

Another vote for this feature - it’s way overdue.

The workarounds are time-wasting.

Just to add my 2 cents (and a request to have this be the default behavior)…

Typical day using Obsidian:

  • Work on note
  • Click on another note in the “files” pane
  • Realize that this note replaced the view of my previous note
  • Hit the “back” arrow to go to my previous note
  • Middle-click on that other note to open in a new tab
  • Repeat throughout the day 15-20 times…
1 Like

Just experienced this today. It was working earlier, I could double-click on a file in the explorer and it would open a new tab. It no longer works. I must have modified something but I can’t figure out what it might have been.

This is pretty crazy. Default behavior in almost every app is that if you double-click something, it opens either a new tab or a new window.

+1 on this

+1 Please make this a reality at last. I would love to be able to set the default to be “open in new tab”