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Most modern web browsers now close tabs when the middle mouse button is clicked on them, is this an expected behavior for other applications where tabs cans can be opened, closed and changed whilst using it? Especially with users who won't be expected to have a great technical knowledge.

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How will it hurt the users without "technical knowledge"? –  Lg102 Aug 13 '13 at 15:54
I wasn't thinking of if it would hurt them, but rather is it something that people generally have come to expect as a feature. –  user2274336 Aug 13 '13 at 16:05
Should the middle mouse button close tabs? Yes. Do most users expect that behavior? I'm not sure, but the ones who don't are not middle clicking on tabs. –  Brian Aug 13 '13 at 16:46
I wasn't even aware of this behaviour. Any mice I have used have two buttons. Most other mice I have seen, for example in the office, have two buttons. The three button mice I have come across were few and far between ... –  Marjan Venema Aug 13 '13 at 18:33
Many scroll wheel mice allow the "clicking" of the scroll wheel as a middle mouse click. Even so, I don't think this is expected behavior -- I did not know about this feature either. I see it works in Firefox, but not in my current install of Chrome. –  wootcat Aug 13 '13 at 18:57

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I also had no idea this was an option until trying it just now! But now that I know, I won't forget.

I believe this is an example of progressive disclosure, or at least introducing progressive complexity in the available interactions. It is a shortcut feature for expert users (or at least those knowledgeable about this particular interaction), but does not detract in any way from the more visible/affordable interactions ("X" button, for example).

So to echo some of the other answers/comments: Yes, I think it is a good idea. Whether it is a common enough pattern (yet) for it to be expected behavior - perhaps not but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be there. As long as it's not overriding or coming into conflict with any other expected interaction pattern, it's a valid shortcut.

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Disclaimer: I had no idea you could do that!

I always use Ctrl+W to close tabs, but for users less familiar with keyboard shortcuts, it makes sense. The button to close tabs tends to be tiny so middle clicking anywhere on the tab enlarges the target for free.

Obviously, discoverability is quite poor though, but then again you could say the same thing about many keyboard shortcuts.

Whether it's expected behaviour is debatable, but it's a new shortcut so if most modern browsers do it then it will eventually become expected.

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I always use middle button to close tabs and expect it from all browsers as default action. This trick works not only in web browsers I think it will be a good feature for the geeks. They'll thanks you for that.

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