I have searched around and the answers I've read are that you can't open URLs in a new window?
This should be default. If I'm working in a project and the description has a URL to clarify the issue, I always want that link to open in a new tab. I don't understand why JIRA being as old as it is has chosen to continue to open links in the same window.
At the very least there should be a setting that let's us choose. Whatever code is converting a URL into a link should be configured to add "_blank" to the link. We do it in our software.
JIRA is about managing the project, so why would I ever want to lose my project window in favor of a link?
Actually, we have a Suggestion regarding this in https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/JRA-9380. I would recommend to you to cast a vote and add yourself as a watcher to be aware of any updates.
Unfortunately, today, this suggestion is not on the JIRA development roadmap
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