Current Version plugins

Firefox: Downloads highlighted on New Tab Page

If things go as planned, Mozilla Firefox will soon display recent downloads in the highlights section of the browser’s default New Tab Page.

Mozilla launched a new version of the New Tab Page of the Firefox browser in Firefox 57. The organization revealed the feature that it calls Activity Stream in 2016 and launched it as one of the first Test Pilot projects for Firefox.

Activity Stream displays a list of top sites, highlights, recommendations from Pocket, and other content on the New Tab Page of the browser.

Top Sites are popular sites that are visited by users regularly or pinned to the New Tab Page by the user manually. Highlights are picks from the recent browsing history or bookmarks.

Tip: if you don’t need Highlights read this guide on disabling highlights in Firefox.

Download highlights

firefox download highlights

Mozilla tests a new feature right now in Firefox Nightly that adds the most recent download to the Highlights section on the browser’s New Tab Page.

Downloads differ from website highlights in several ways:

  1. There is no thumbnail image of the visited or bookmarked page.
  2. The activity status reads “downloaded” and not “visited” or “bookmarked.
  3. Download highlights list the domain the file was downloaded from, the file name, size, and file extension.
  4. The context menu differs.

When you hover the mouse cursor over a download and move it over the context menu in the top right corner when it is displayed, you will notice that the options differ from site or bookmark highlights.

firefox downloads

Instead of getting options to bookmark the link, save it to Pocket, or open it in a new browser window, you get options to open the file or the folder it was downloaded to. Other options include visiting the download page again or copying the download link.

You can also remove it from history or dismiss it, but those options are also available for other highlight types.

Firefox will highlight the most recent download only right now and only if the file was downloaded in the last 36 hour period.

Closing Words

Highlighting downloads could be useful in some cases but the current version needs some work to become really useful. I’d like to see an option to turn the single download card into a card that lists the top 5 or even 10 downloads for quick access.

You can disable the “most recent download” feature in the preferences so that the download is not displayed under highlights on the New Tab Page.

It appears that there is no option right now to disable the display of downloads under Highlights. It is possible that this will be implemented before the feature lands in Firefox Stable. For now, all you can do is clear the download history regularly to block downloads from showing up on the New Tab Page.

Now You: Downloads on the New Tab Page; useful or not?

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