Auto Tab Discard is an add-on for the Firefox and Chrome web browsers that frees up memory that the web browsers uses by discarding inactive tabs. Discarding in this context means that the tabs are unloaded but kept open in the browser.
Web browser users who keep multiple tabs open in the browser of choice may notice that memory use increases with each tab that gets opened.
Auto Tab Discard
Auto Tab Discard runs automatically in the background. The default setting unloads tabs after 600 seconds of inactivity if the number of inactive tabs exceeds six tabs.
Tabs are not discarded when they meet certain criteria, e.g. when media is playing or form changes have not been submitted. Additional discarding conditions are listed in the options. The following conditions need to be enabled manually:
- When a tab is pinned.
- When there is no Internet connection and tabs have not been cached.
- When it is allowed to display desktop notifications.
- When computer is not in idle state.
One of the strengths of the extension is that it provides lots of customization options. You can change the unloading interval or number of inactive tabs required as well as criteria that prevent or allow tabs and sites to be discarded by the extension.
Sites that match criteria are not discarded but there is also an option to add sites to the whitelist to prevent that they are unloaded by the extension. Discarded tabs are retained even across sessions; they remain discarded until activated by the user.
The automatic discarding of tabs is a useful feature but the developer has added options to run the processes manually as well. A left-click on the extension icon displays options to discard the active tab, all other tabs of the browser window, all tabs in other windows, or all other tabs.
The menu has options to whitelist the active site permanently or for the browsing session.
Note: Extensions are not permitted to run on internal pages and some other pages (e.g. https://addons.mozilla.org/). Firefox users may disable the restrictions for non-local-sites on about:config by manipulating the preference extensions.webextensions.restrictedDomains.
Other options provided by the settings include changing the default action of a left-click on the extension icon, or to disable the opening of the FAQ page when the extension has been updated.
Auto Tab Discard is a useful extension for Firefox and Chrome that may be used to free up memory automatically or manually by discarding tabs. The extension may be useful in situations where the browser starts to feel sluggish, even if enough memory us available
Now You: do you use extensions that help you free memory?
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