Firefox 57 was released this week, and with it came changes to the browser’s New Tab Page, and a new library icon in the browser’s main toolbar.
Mozilla added a highlights section to the New Tab Page and the library icon menu of Firefox. While highlights is not the dominant change in Firefox 57, far from it, it is a highly visible change.
Highlights lists web pages that you have visited in the past. Mozilla describes it in the following way: “find your way back to interesting things you’ve recently visited or bookmarked”.
In other words, Highlights makes web pages you visited or bookmarked in the past visible in the Firefox UI. I don’t find arbitrary features that you have no control over that useful, and maybe you don’t to.
Highlights is a feature that was tested in a Test Pilot experiment called Activity Stream which Mozilla launched in 2016. Based on that data, it was decided to integrate Activity Stream directly into the Firefox web browser.
How to hide Highlights in Firefox
The screenshot above is from Firefox’s New Tab page. The highlight section is displayed below the search field and the top sites section.
You can hover over any item there to display a menu. A click on the menu icon lists options to dismiss that highlight and to delete it from history. You can furthermore open it in a new window or new private window, or bookmark it or save it to Pocket.
It is easy to hide the Highlights section on the New Tab Page. Simply click on the cogwheel icon on the New Tab page, and remove the checkmark from Highlights there.
This takes care of Highlights on the New Tab page, but it won’t interfere with the “recent highlights” of the library icon.
The library icon is quite useful, as it lists bookmarks, the browsing history, downloads and other things directly in its interface.
If you don’t require the recent highlights listing there, you may hide it as well. There is no direct switch available however, so that you need to manipulate a parameter using Firefox’s advanced configuration tool.
- Load about:config?filter=browser.library.activity-stream.enabled in the browser’s address bar.
- Double-click on the entry to toggle its value.
A value of true means the feature is enabled, a value of false that recent highlights are hidden in the library menu. The change is immediate.
You can undo both changes at any time using the methods described above.
Now You: What’s your take on the Highlights, New Tab page and Library icon feature of Firefox?