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Why I don't like target=_blank

I get asked quite a lot why my links don't open in new windows, and could I please add target="_blank" (or target="new" - which is incorrect) to them? The answer to that is no. I have never used target="_blank" on my site, except when I used popup windows (ewww, I know). And even then I wasn't happy about doing it. Especially now, when I validate to doctypes that don't support the target attribute.

Ok, I do have my Firefox settings set to ignore target="_blank", but why should I have to change my settings because of your site? I don't like being told how I'm going to go to a link. I want to choose for myself whether I am going to open a new window, a new tab, a new browser, or reuse the same page. I want links to follow what I've told my browser I want to happen. Usually, I reuse the same page. However, I never ever have more than one browser window open, and that is how I want it to stay, thank you very much. I can't stand cluttered desktops/taskbars where I don't know which window contains what. At least with tabs I can rename them and order them and whatever else (Firefox extensions FTW!1!).

This behaviour stems from the times of IE6 and other non-tabbed browsers, however is still being used today - people don't want visitors leaving their sites, so they force another browser window to open. On my old computer this was a nightmare - it couldn't cope with more than one instance of IE and opening another (by choice or otherwise) resulted in the whole thing crashing. Likewise, my current computer is getting slower and more dodgy every day, and opening an instance of Firefox/IE/anything takes it quite a while (yes, I have defragmented/taken off spyware/viruses/etc. It's just getting old). That's another reason I only have one FF window open, actually, heh. To those people (who don't want visitors leaving their sites) I say this: if your site is worth visiting, people will go back to it. You don't have to force them to stay on your site. In most cases, they will end up closing your site's window anyway.

So my point (I do have one, honest): please don't use target="_blank". It's not only inaccessible, but it's a nuisance to those of us such as myself (and it's not just me) who dislike our default settings being overridden. Let the user choose how to open links. Like I said, if your site is really worth staying on, people will stay on it. There is no need to force them to do so.

Please note: this post is now over 1 decade old.

Older posts are archived for historical reasons and also for those who may find their contents useful. Facts, links or opinions within this article are likely to have changed; the article itself may also no longer represent my own views on the subject. Please bear this in mind when reading these posts.

Comments (11)

  1. I very much agree. I don't get why people would be so selfish about their sites. It's like having a no-right-click script. Trying so hard to stay unique and keep visitors, it's too much and very pointless. Just frustrates everyone in the end!

    If anything, the visitors you want to keep are the ones that come back to your page again later after they navigate out. :D

    Melissa's Gravatar Melissa on

  2. Amen to this. ;)

    Kirsty's Gravatar Kirsty on

  3. I used to disagree, but now I have since seen the light and am always surprised to find a new window opening., or, given that I've changed my firefox settings, a new tab. I like to have the choice.

    Josh(ua/y)'s Gravatar Josh(ua/y) on

  4. Very well said! Giving people choices is a lot better.

    Louise's Gravatar Louise on

  5. I too don't use target=_blank anymore though I used to (and probably dusty files of my more older, more ignored sites still use it too). I myself like many tabs as I tend to close pages I stop looking at rather than using the back button. However, I like to give people the opportunity to choose for themselves rather than force my preferences. It's easy for me to open new tabs with the scroll wheel on my mouse anyway.

    Belinda's Gravatar Belinda on

  6. I haven't used the target attribute in.. years. Though it does annoy the piss out of me when I visit sites that still do this... But usually I bypass it because I like to open new sites in new tabs.

    When I came across a link, instead of left-clicking on it, I use my mouse's scrollbar to click on it which brings up a new tab. It's love really.

    Previous to that I did the old fashioned "right-click: open in new tab," and what drove me batty at that point was when sites altered their right-click with javascript so prevent from viewing source, etc, but also took away those firefox options. What cows.

    Jordan's Gravatar Jordan on

  7. I agree with you - the target attribute is totally not necessary, especially if you use Firefox. I have *everything* opening in new tabs, and usually when I click on a link, I click it with the middle button (open in new tab)...

    Adastra's Gravatar Adastra on

  8. I usually middle-click all my links too, or if I've not got the proper mouse plugged in and am using the touchpad, I control-click a link.

    Tabs = lovelovelove. Srsly.

    Amelie's Gravatar Amelie on

  9. I always used to use target="_blank", but I stopped using it recently... I like the tabs. Yes, that's tabs without FF! zomg!1!

    Rachael's Gravatar Rachael on

  10. I totally agree with you on this. My moms crappy computer is superultraslow and can't cope with the target="_blank" thing either. It's really frustrating and on my own computer I keep using ctrl+click to open a link in a new tab if I don't want to leave the site I currently am on.

    Sigrun's Gravatar Sigrun on

  11. While I personally don't agree, it is very interesting an insightful to see from anothers perspective. I also use Mozilla and have my browser configured so that any new page opens in a new tab. [[ yay for tabs ]] But I find it slightly frustrating when im searching a site and I think the link is going to open in a new window and it doesn't and a go on browsing not realizing that my previous site is now gone and then i have to go back and find it and . . . bleh. lol So I like the target="_blank" attribute, and use it. But who knows maybe ill change one of these days.

    Phenix's Gravatar Phenix on

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