Tabs Aside is a Firefox extension that lets you save and restore browser sessions

Microsoft Edge (not the Chromium one) has a cool feature that lets you set tabs aside. Basically, it saves your session and lets you restore it at a later time.

Tabs Aside is a Firefox extension that lets you save and restore browser sessions

Tabs Aside is a web extension that can do the same for Firefox. The add-on needs to be setup before it can be used for the purpose.

Tabs Aside get started

Click on the toolbar icon to get started. A side-panel opens and the setup wizard explains how the add-on works. Tabs Aside saves tabs as bookmarks in its folder. Every session is saved in its own sub-folder. You may choose to create a new folder called ‘Tabs Aside’ or create a custom folder.

Tabs Aside setup

The next step in the wizard lets you choose the session saving behavior. You can pick from three options. The default setting is “Active Sessions” that updates bookmarks as you open or close tabs, and each session is saved it is own window.

The “Tabs Aside 2” method disables Windowed mode. Or you can choose the “Like Microsoft Edge” option, that disables both Windowed mode and Active Sessions.

Note: The current iteration of the extension is called Tabs Aside 3 on GitHub.

How to set aside tabs in Tabs Aside

Click on the toolbar icon, it has three options. Select the Tabs Aside option, it opens a new window and begins saving each tab to the session. When it’s done, a side-panel opens on the left edge of the screen. This is the “Tabs you’ve set aside panel”, technically it’s the bookmark folder’s title.

Note: If you have a lot of tabs, you may notice a slight delay in the process.

Tabs Aside sidepanel

Let’s call this sidebar the sessions panel, because this is where you can view, restore or search sessions. Select the restore option next to a session, and Tabs Aside opens a new window and restores your tabs. It uses lazy loading (only loads the first tab), so don’t worry about the browser or the add-on using up too much memory or slowing down the browser while tabs are loading.

Tabs Aside rename or remove

Sessions that you’ve saved remain even after you have restored them (since they are saved as bookmarks). Clicking the three dot menu next to a session lets you rename or remove the session. Click on the arrow icon in the left edge of the screen. This makes the add-on list all tabs that were set aside during the selected session. The list displays the title of each tab.  You may click on a title to switch to the corresponding tab. Right-click on a listing to copy it’s URL to the clipboard.

Tabs Aside copy url

Once you’ve named a session, it’s title will also be displayed in the toolbar icon’s menu.

Tabs Aside toolbar

Options Page

The Tabs Aside settings allows you set the session’s root folder, enable or disable Active Sessions, open sessions in a new window, lazy loading. You can change the way tab closing behavior is handled: remove from session or set aside. The add-on does not set aside pinned tabs by default, but there is an option that lets it save pinned tabs.Tabs Aside Firefox extension options

I was looking for a OneTab replacement (hasn’t been updated in months, and I wanted an alternative just in case) and stumbled across Better OneTab which sadly doesn’t have a Firefox version. So, I continued my search and eventually found Tabs Aside. The extension is open source.

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Mozilla installs Scheduled Telemetry Task on Windows with Firefox 75

Observant Firefox users on Windows who have updated the web browser to Firefox 75 may have noticed that the upgrade brought along with it a new scheduled tasks. The scheduled task is also added if Firefox 75 is installed on a Windows device.

The task’s name is Firefox Default Browser Agent and it is set to run once per day. Mozilla published a blog post on the official blog of the organization that provides information on the task and why it has been created.

firefox default browser agent

According to Mozilla, the task has been created to help the organization “understand changes in default browser settings”. At its core, it is a Telemetry task that collects information and sends the data to Mozilla.

Here are the details:

  • The Task is only created if Telemetry is enabled. If Telemetry is set to off (in the most recently used Firefox profile), it is not created and thus no data is sent. The same is true for Enterprise telemetry policies if they are configured.
  • Mozilla collects information “related to the system’s current and previous default browser setting, as w2ell as the operating system locale and version”.
  • Mozilla notes that the data cannot be “associated with regular profile based telemetry data”.
  • The data is sent to Mozilla every 24 hours using the scheduled task.

Mozilla added the file default-browser-agent.exe to the Firefox installation folder on Windows which defaults to C:Program FilesMozilla Firefox.

Firefox users have the following options if they don’t want the data sent to Mozilla:

  • Firefox users who opted-out of Telemetry are good, they don’t need to make any change as the new Telemetry data is not sent to Mozilla; this applies to users who opted-out of Telemetry in Firefox or used Enterprise policies to do so.
  • Firefox users who have Telemetry enabled can either opt-out of Telemetry or deal with the task/executable that is responsible.

Disable the Firefox Default Browser Agent task

firefox-browser agent task disabled

Here is how you disable the task:

  1. Open Start on the Windows machine and type Task Scheduler.
  2. Open the Task Scheduler and go to Task Scheduler Library > Mozilla.
  3. There you should find listed the Firefox Default Browser Agent task.
  4. Right-click on the task and select Disable.
  5. Note: Nightly users may see the Firefox Nightly Default Browser Agent task there as well and may disable it.

The task won’t be executed anymore once it is disabled.

Closing Words

The new Telemetry task is only introduced on Windows and runs only if Telemetry is enabled (which it is by default). Mozilla is transparent about the introduction and while that is good, I’d preferred if the company would have informed users about it in the browser after the upgrade to Firefox 75 or installation of the browser and before the task is executed the first time.

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How to display only modified preferences on about:config in Firefox

The internal about:config interface of the Firefox web browser is a handy tool to make advanced configuration changes to the browser including many that users would not be able to change otherwise and many that other browsers don’t provide at all.

Mozilla launched a redesign of the about:config page in recent versions of the Firefox web browser; the new design uses open standards such as HTML and JavaScript and was introduced in early 2019 in development versions of the browser.

The initial redesigned version received some criticism as Mozilla launched it without full replication of functionality of the old version. Main points of criticism included that deep linking was no longer supported, that the data could not be sorted anymore, that all preferences could not be listed on the page, and that double-clicks to edit values or change states were not working as well.

Mozilla addressed some of these issues in recent updates. It is now possible to display all preferences and to use double-clicks. Sorting and deep linking on the other hand are not supported in Firefox Stable at the time of writing and Mozilla revealed earlier that it won’t introduce these features.

Firefox users who want to take a look at all modified preferences have a new option now to display all changed preferences on about:config. The listing of core modified preferences on about:support displays only some of the preferences but not all that are modified.

firefox-list all modified preferences

Here is how you display all modified (non-default) Firefox preferences on about:config:

  1. Load about:config in the Firefox address bar.
  2. Confirm that you will be careful if the warning is displayed.
  3. Activate the “show all” link to display all preferences.
  4. Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-K (on Mac Command-Option-K) to display the Console of the Developer Tools.
  5. Type allow pasting to enable the pasting of commands.
  6. Paste the following in the console and hit the Enter-key afterwards.

var elements = document.getElementsByTagName(‘tr’);
[…elements].filter(
el => !el.classList.contains(‘has-user-value’)
).forEach(
el => el.style.display = (el.style.display === ‘none’) ? ‘table-row’ : ‘none’
);

The instructions parse the data and display only preferences that have been modified. You can go through the listing easily this way to check all modified preferences in the Firefox browser. The change is temporary in nature, a reload loads the standard listing again.

Closing Words

It may sometimes be useful to check modified preferences, e.g. when something is not working right in Firefox and you are uncertain whether it is caused by one of the preferences. or when you want to make sure that certain preferences are still set to the values that you set them to.

Now You: If you use Firefox, do you use about:config? (via Sören Hentzschel)

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How to restore the old Firefox address bar

Mozilla released Firefox 75.0 Stable on Tuesday and the main change in the release was the revamping of the browser’s address bar.

One of the changes expands the address bar automatically when a New Tab Page is opened. Mozilla may have decided to make the change to put the focus of the user on the address bar on New Tab Pages. Mozilla highlights other improvements such as improved search suggestions readability, automatic display of top sites when the address bar is selected, common Firefox issue fixes for certain search terms, and an improved user experience on smaller screens.

Not all Firefox users like the change. Comments here on this site and on others show that part of the user base is less than thrilled about the change. Common points of criticism include that the auto-expanding address bar feels inconsistent and that it pushes into the bookmarks bar, that the Esc-key does not work as before anymore when used on the address bar, and that the history dropdown (the small down arrow on the right side of the address bar) to the right is no longer available.

firefox new address

Feedback is being reported to Mozilla’s UX team according to bug reports but it is unclear if the designers or Mozilla will react on the feedback to make changes to the current state.

Firefox users may roll back the address bar changes currently but some of the preferences will be removed in the near future (likely in Firefox 77).

For now though, Firefox users may make the following configuration changes to get the old address bar back:

  1. Load about:config in the browser’s address bar.
  2. Confirm that you will be careful.
  3. Search for the following preferences and set them all to FALSE
    1. browser.urlbar.openViewOnFocus
    2. browser.urlbar.update1
    3. browser.urlbar.update1.interventions
    4. browser.urlbar.update1.searchTips
    5. browser.urlbar.update1.view.stripHttps
  4. Restart the Firefox web browser.

Note that update2 preferences are already present but disabled at this point in time.

A second option, one that will resolve most of the changes even if Mozilla removes the preferences listed above, is to make modifications using a userChrome.css file.

firefox css old address bar

Here is how that is done:

  1. Load about:config in Firefox.
  2. Confirm that you will be careful.
  3. Set the preference toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets to TRUE to enable the loading of the userChrome.css file when Firefox starts.
  4. Load about:support in Firefox.
  5. Click on “open folder” next to user profile.
  6. Close Firefox.
  7. If you don’t see a folder named chrome, create it.
  8. Open the folder.
  9. If you don’t see a file named userChrome.css, create it.
  10. Paste the following content into the file, save it, and start Firefox.

/* based on https://old.reddit.com/comments/fwhlva//fmolndz */
#urlbar[breakout][breakout-extend]:not([open]) {
top: calc((var(–urlbar-toolbar-height) – var(–urlbar-height)) / 2) !important;
left: 0 !important;
width: 100% !important;
}
#urlbar[breakout][breakout-extend]:not([open]) > #urlbar-input-container {
height: var(–urlbar-height) !important;
padding-block: 0px !important;
padding-inline: 0px !important;
}
#urlbar[breakout][breakout-extend][breakout-extend-animate] > #urlbar-background {
animation-name: none !important;
}
#urlbar[breakout][breakout-extend]:not([open]) > #urlbar-background {
box-shadow: none !important;
}

Not all changes are reversed but the address bar won’t expand anymore after the change is made.

Now You: What is your take on the revamped address bar?

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Refresh tabs automatically in Firefox and Chrome with Tab Reloader

Waiting for an online sale or video stream to start, or an auction to end, but don’t want to be constantly refreshing the tab? You can use a Firefox and Chrome extension called Tab Reloader to refresh the tab automatically.

Refresh tabs automatically in Firefox and Chrome with Tab Reloader extension

While YouTube lets you set a reminder (when you’re logged in) for upcoming videos, not a lot of sites offer the option. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shopping site that has such a feature.

The extension’s name is Tab Reloader (page auto refresh). Very catchy! Install the add-on and you’ll see it’s icon on the toolbar. Click it to view a pop-up window; it has a few toggles. These settings are tab specific and can be used to enable the Reloader for the selected tab and set the time interval.

How to set a tab to reload – Method 1 (toolbar icon)

The first step is to set the time after which you want the tab to reload. You can choose the time from as low as ten seconds and up to several days. There are no limits to the number of tabs that you can set to reload. Click the “Enable Reloader for this tab” option to set the timer.

Tab Reloader timer set

When you set the reloading job, the timer settings become grayed out. The tab will automatically reload when the timer reaches 0.

By default, the active tab will also reload (if you had set a timer for the tab), but you can toggle a setting that disables the current tab from reloading. The number of active reload jobs, and the list of tabs on which they are active are displayed at the bottom of the pop-up window.

If you don’t want the page to load its latest content from the server, enable the “Use cache while reloading” option to load a locally cached version. The other options can be used to bypass form submission, or to scroll to the end of the page after it has been reloaded. You may run a custom JavaScript code after each reload, for e.g. to play a sound or to change the reload setting.

Tab Reloader’s icon displays a badge counter which indicates the number of tabs that are currently set to auto refresh.  Right-click this icon to view a menu that allows you to reload all tabs/tabs in the current window, stop all active reloading jobs or restore old reloading jobs.

Tab Reloader toolbar icon menu

Method 2 –  Tab bar right-click menu (Firefox only)

This method is much easier than the pop-up window, and there is the added bonus of not having to switch tabs while using this menu. Right-click on a tab to view the Tab Reloader (page auto refresh) menu. This allows you set the auto refresh interval quickly. You can set the tab to reload every 10 or 30 seconds, 1 or 5 or 15 minutes or every hour. There are shortcuts to reload the tab manually, reload all tabs or all tabs in the current window. To cancel the task, select don’t reload.

Tab Reloader tab bar right click menu

 

When you close a tab, the reloader settings for it are discarded as well.  That’s quite simple to use, isn’t it?

Head to the add-on page to manage Tab Reloader’s options. You can disable the badge icon, enable the add-on to restore the reloading jobs when you restart the browser. You can backup the add-ons settings and import it from the options page.

Tab Reloader add-on options

Tab Reloader is open source.  It’s available on the Firefox AMO and Chrome’s Web Store, and has been featured in Mozilla’s Recommended Extensions program. Check out our guide on reloading tabs automatically in browsers for additional tips.

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