When Should a Link Open a New Window?

I recently posted this question on Stack Exchange, a great family of websites for getting informed responses to meaningful questions. The answers I received indicate that there are broadly two use cases to consider.

  • One, it is clearly recommended to open a new browser instance/window/tab in certain situations. Such cases include where the link is a detour from the main workflow, e.g. print or help. In these circumstances, the new window contains no navigation. Also, the detour cannot be reproduced via use of the back button.
  • Two, when moving to a new domain, opinion is divided on whether to force a new window (target="_blank") or let the user decide (click for the same window, ctrl+click for a new window).
Thoughts? Click on the link above to view the detailed discussion on Stack Overflow.


  1. 1. ctr+click will create new window…works
    2. transitional doctype eg style sheets
    3. in an oracle form where you need to fill data this will not work
    4. useful for help files
    5. new resource or page means new window is useful
    6. developers prefer using back button, ordinary humans may not know this


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