We all need an extension (or ten!) to wrestle browser tabs into submission effortlessly. Especially you, you tab hoarder.
Don’t you find tab management stressful and time consuming? You have to keep the number of tabs from going out of control, know which tab hides what you’re looking for, monitor memory usage, avoid closing the wrong tab in a hurry, and pay attention to so much more apart from actually browsing.
In Firefox, you can make this whole tabbed browsing snafu disappear with help from some native features and smart extensions that can take over the bulk of tab management for you.
1. Open Multiple Tabs in Firefox Startup Homepage
If you can’t decide which website to set up as your home page, don’t. You can program Firefox to open a bunch of pages simultaneously every time you click on the Home button or when you start up Firefox. It’s a simple tweak that you can make right now.
First, open up (only) the web pages that you want to launch as part of your home page setup. Now look for the Home Page: setting under Firefox Preferences/Options > General. All you have to do is click on the Use Current Pages button beneath it. When you do, you’ll see the links of currently opened tabs appear in the Home Page: field, which means that you’re all set. Try these other ways to improve your Firefox start page as well.
Now, before we get to those tab management extensions we promised to show you, let’s take a look at some of the other built-in ways you can manage tabs in Firefox.
Restore Tabs from Previous Session
When you reopen your browser, Firefox loads the home page every time by default. You can set it to load your previously open tabs instead.
Open Firefox options. In the General section, click on the dropdown next to When Firefox starts: and select Show my windows and tabs from last time. This way you can come back to the pages from your previous session automatically even after you restart your computer and launch Firefox.
Move Tabs Around
Move a tab around in the same window or to another window by dragging and dropping it where you need it to be. If you’d like to open the tab in a separate window of its own, drag and drop it out of its current window.
You can pin a tab by right-clicking on it and selecting Pin Tab from the context menu. The tab stays in place even when you relaunch Firefox. You’ll find other useful tab options, like Mute Tab and Close Tabs to the Right, in the same context menu as Pin Tab.
Reopen Closed Tabs
Bringing back the most recently closed tab is quick and painless with this keyboard shortcut : Ctrl + Shift + T (Cmd + Shift + T on a Mac). If you prefer to use the mouse, right-click on any tab in the window and select Undo Close Tab.
If you want to restore one or more tabs from the most recently closed ones, you’ll find them under History > Recently Closed Tabs.
Bookmark Tabs for Later
Want to return to a bunch of tabs later? Right-click on any tab in the window and select Bookmark All Tabs… This bookmarks them all at once and groups them under a folder in your Bookmarks, so that you can restore them all with a single click when you want to.
If you use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + D to bookmark a page, add the Shift key to the mix and use Shift + Ctrl + D to bookmark all tabs.
2. Group Tabs for Better Organization with Tab Groups
Firefox allows you to group tabs for convenience by hitting Ctrl + Shift + E or by clicking on the tiny down arrow that appears at the extreme right on the tab bar when it overflows.
You can even name tab groups for easy identification and drag and drop tabs between different groups to rearrange them to your liking.
We should warn you that this tab grouping feature — also known as Panorama — is going away starting Firefox 45. Not to worry though. You can install the Tab Groups extension as a replacement. Better yet, install the extension right away, so that you won’t miss the native feature much when it finally disappears.
— Sarah J (@johnsons531) February 3, 2016
Tab Groups functions just like Firefox’s built-in tab group setup and was created using the same bits of code. Even the keyboard shortcut for grouping tabs stays the same!
If you already use Panorama, switch to Tab Groups before you upgrade to Firefox 45. This will migrate your tab groups to the extension automatically. If you upgrade first and then install Tab Groups, your tab groups from Firefox would have ended up in your Bookmarks folder. You’ll then have to import them into Tab Groups from your profile folder in Firefox.
3. Save Memory with OneTab
Closing tabs frees up memory, but closing and reopening the same pages in tabs every now and then is a pain. OneTab solves this problem somewhat. When you click on its toolbar button, it bundles all your existing tabs into a group. You can restore any or all tabs in the bundle easily. Remember that each restored bundle of tabs appears in a dedicated window.
Every click of the OneTab button creates a new bundle. You can not only restore tab groups, but also name them, lock them, star them, and even share them as a web page. Drag and drop links between the tab groups to rearrange them.
OneTab promises to reduce RAM usage by as much as 95%. The accuracy of that figure might vary, but you’re sure to see a significant difference in any case.
Looking for an alternative to OneTab? Tab Grenade is a decent option.
4. Browse Privately in a New Tab Instead of a New Window with Private Tab
You probably use this gem of an extension already. If you don’t, you might want to start today, because it allows you to browse privately in a new tab with a single click of its toolbar button. No more having to open a new window to go incognito online. Of course, you need to remember that using private browsing doesn’t mean being invisible online. You can still be tracked.
With Private Tab, you can even configure a bookmark to always open in a private tab by prefixing its link with private:. This is what the bookmark should look like: private:https://google.com.
5. Get Back Recently Closed Tabs with Undo Closed Tabs Button
Having to open up History > Recently Closed Tabs every time you want to restore one or more tabs you have recently closed is far from convenient. Thankfully, you can make that entire list of closed tabs accessible from a toolbar button with Undo Closed Tabs Button. Here’s a snapshot of the extension in action:
6. View Several Tabs at Once with Tile Tabs
Splitting up your computer screen to display more than one tab at a time can come in quite handy for tasks like comparing product versions side by side or watching video tutorials while you learn to code.
Two major operating systems — Windows and OS X — introduced a split screen feature in 2015. You can add something similar (and better!) to your browser with Tile Tabs. It allows you to arrange your tabs in a grid-like layout to view several of them simultaneously.
Click on Tile Tabs’ toolbar button for quick access to the functions that’ll help you create tiled layouts and manage them. You might feel daunted by the various ways in which you can manipulate tabs using this extension. Spend some time creating tiled layouts and moving things around. You’ll soon get the hang of it.
If you’re also a Chrome user, try these Chrome extensions to view multiple tabs at once.
7. Micromanage Tabs with Tab Mix Plus
@beaulebens You need multiple rows! I use a FF extension called Tab Mix Plus to supercharge tabs.
— Nick Momrik (@nickmomrik) February 2, 2016
Tab Mix Plus is a must-have extension if you want super fine control over your tabs. Duplicating tabs, restoring closed tabs and windows, managing link behavior — these are some of the surface functions you’ll get when you install the extension. There’s so much more you can do with it that we decided Tab Mix Plus deserves a dedicated review.
While Tab Mix Plus is great, many users have reported problems with its session recovery feature. So we’d recommend sticking to Firefox’s default session manager instead of switching over to the one in Tab Mix Plus. You’ll get a prompt to make this choice the first time you restart Firefox after installing the extension. Of course, you can also tweak this setting from (the Session tab of) the Tab Mix Plus preferences.
Yes, this Tab Mix Plus is useful, but it can also be overwhelming, especially for users who like their apps minimalistic. If it seems like overkill for your browsing habits, try Multiple Tab Handler. It adds useful options to a tab’s context menu and is much easier to figure out.
Multiple Handler does have several settings in its preferences section, but you don’t have to look at them if you don’t want to. You can stay content with the simple context menu options like Duplicate Tab, Save All Tabs, Select Similar Tabs, and Close Other Similar Tabs.
8. Make the Tab Bar More Spacious with Prevent Tab Overflow
Isn’t it annoying that the Firefox tab bar fills up with just 10-15 tabs? If you open any more, you have to click on a tiny arrow at the right of the tab bar to get through all your tabs. One way to delay this cluttering up of the tab bar is by optimizing how the tabs appear. And that’s where Prevent Tab Overflow comes in.
The extension scales down the size of tabs, makes pinned tabs slimmer, and even compresses the Firefox button to give your more space on the tab bar. Tab resizing doesn’t take time because Prevent Tab Overflow disables the animations that accompany that action. It also makes it easy to identify tabs that haven’t loaded yet by dimming them.
Pair this extension with the next one and you’ll be able to identify tabs better despite the smaller tab widths.
9. Preview Tabs with Tab Scope
If it usually takes you a few tries to get to the tab you’re looking for, you’ll love Tab Scope. It allows you to preview a tab in a popup when you hover over the tab.
The preview might take a few seconds to load if you have a slow Internet connection, but once it does, it appears instantly during the remainder of the browser session. You can resize the popup from the extension preferences if you want a bigger preview.
10. View Tabs in a Tree Structure with Tree Style Tab
One easy way in which you can deal with an excess of tabs and find the right ones easily is by rearranging tabs in a tree-like structure. Tree Style Tab does that for you. It’s one of those extensions that are the pride of Firefox.
Once you install Tree Style Tab, your tabs appear in a sidebar within your browser window. You can choose to have the sidebar on the left or the right, change its skin, set its width, and make several other tweaks from the extension preferences.
You can also see at a glance how the tabs are related to each other. Any links that you open from a particular web page have a child-parent relationship with the latter.
I organize everything hierarchically. How did I get by until now without "Tree style tab" in firefox and "Tabs outliner" in chrome.
— Pádraig Brady (@pixelbeat_) January 29, 2016
Tree Style Tab’s drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy for you to open tabs at or move tabs to precise locations in the tree structure. And of course, the tab structures are collapsible, which means you can fit in many tabs in Firefox and still manage to keep them organized.
11. Open Downloads in a New Tab with Download Tab
Mozilla’s decision to open Firefox options in a new tab instead of a modal window (starting Firefox 38) was a welcome move for many of us. You know, you can extend that functionality to Firefox Downloads as well with Download Tab.
There’s not much to the extension. You install it, restart Firefox, and click on the extension’s toolbar button to open Downloads in a new tab. Keep the tab pinned for easy access.
12. Get More Screen Real Estate with Hide Tab Bar With One Tab
If you want to keep a single tab open, you can get rid of the tab bar distraction with Hide Tab Bar With One Tab. There’s nothing you have to do apart from installing the extension. Once you do that, every time you’re down to one tab, the tab bar disappears automatically.
You can hide the tab bar even when you have more than one tab open. You just need a different extension — Hide Tabbar. It allows you to use a hotkey to make the tab bar disappear and reappear. Feeling too lazy to do that? No problem. You can set a timer to autohide the tab bar.
By default, the key combo Ctrl + F11 toggles the tab bar. Even on a Mac, the shortcut remains the same and does not turn into Cmd + F11 as you’d expect given the differences between PC and Mac keyboards.
The Mac's command key takes some getting used to, but I can definitely see the benefits of having an additional "control/command" @tosbourn
— S. Humza S. (@shumzash) October 7, 2015
Stressfree Tab Management
Your experience with Firefox extensions could vary based on the version of Firefox you’re using (please upgrade to the latest one). Also, you might face unique compatibility issues. Despite these possibilities, each of the extensions that we have listed here is worth trying out. We promise you that your tabbed browsing experience will be better for it.
How many browser tabs do you have open right now? One? Ten? A Hundred? Tell us how you make them behave!