Hide Browser Tabs With Panic Button For Firefox Or Chrome

Need to quickly hide the open tabs in your web browser? You need a panic button or boss key…

This can be useful if the boss walks in whilst you’re playing on the net instead of working. It also helps if you want to keep your web browsing private from nosy visitors or family.

There are already basic shortcuts using the Windows key (Win) on most keyboards which may be useful: Win+M minimizes all windows whilst Win+D minimizes all windows and displays the desktop.

However, these key combinations aren’t too easy to find in a hurry and both leave the title of the current webpage showing on the taskbar which is not ideal. Just like closing the browser completely, it’s also suspicious in itself – why would you be staring at a blank desktop screen?

A far safer option is to use a boss key or panic button – these are typical names for browser addons and extensions to properly hide all open browser windows at the click of a button (or press of 1 key).

Panic Button For Google Chrome

This is a highly rated Chrome extension (4.6 stars) and has more than 350,000 users. It makes it easy to hide all your open tabs at once just by clicking on a button – the tabs are then saved as bookmarks in a separate folder. Another click on the Panic Button restores all of the tabs you hid earlier.

Features:

  • Configurable Button action – you can choose one of the following by setting or deleting the ‘Safe Page’:

– With Safe Page. My favorite action – hides all browser windows and replaces them with a browser window displaying a safe web page e.g. New Tab (the default) or a custom page e.g. google.com – click on the Button again to restore the browser session
– No Safe Page. Quit (close all windows and quits Chrome) – same as normal closing

  • F4 hotkey invokes the Panic Button action – this key can be disabled or you can change it to a custom hotkey to suit you
  • Password protection – option to set a password to prevent your saved tabs from being reopened without the password
  • Option to hide the Button after it is used – changes to an empty space on the toolbar (but can still be selected if you know where it is)

Download – Download Panic Button from Chrome Webstore here. Configure options as required – right click on the Panic Button icon and select Options:

panic button options

Chrome Panic Button options

The only issue I have with Panic Button for Chrome is that it saves the open tabs as bookmarks in a “temporary Panic” folder within Chrome’s “Other bookmarks” folder. If you have the Bookmarks bar showing, this folder stands out like a sore thumb – and because the bookmarks include the full webpage titles it is easy to guess what they are.

To prevent this you could hide the Bookmarks bar – via Wrench icon \ Bookmarks \ untick Show Bookmarks bar.

Panic Button For Firefox

This extension for Firefox is also highly rated (4 stars) and has over 11,000 users. A single click of a toolbar button will quickly hide all Firefox windows – another click on the Panic Button restores all of the tabs you hid earlier.

Features:

  • Configurable Button action – you can choose one of the following:

– Hide and Replace. My favorite action – hides all browser windows and replaces them with a tab displaying a web page at a specific URL e.g. google.com – click on the Button again to restore the browser session
– Hide All Windows. Fastest – a Restore Session toolbar appears after all Firefox app windows close so that you can bring back the browser windows later
– Minimize All Windows. Slowest – but all windows, including ancillary app windows like Help, View Source, Bookmarks/Places, etc. can be restored
– Quit. Close all windows and quit Firefox – same as normal closing

  • 20 toolbar button images to choose from so it isn’t as obvious to others what it’s for – an image file on your computer can also be used
  • The Button can be completely hidden from view (the default)
  • Toolbar button caption can be changed from ‘Panic Button’ to something else e.g. ‘What’s New’
  • F9 (Command+F9 on Macs) hotkey invokes the Panic Button action – this key can be disabled.
  • Supported languages: English (US), Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Dutch, French, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish, Swedish.
panic button

Firefox Panic Button settings

Download – Download Panic Button from Mozilla Addons here.

The panic button is not displayed by default after installation (but you can use the F9 hotkey). To add the Button to the browser toolbar, choose View \ Toolbars \ Customize from the Firefox menu bar, then drag the Panic Button to the desired location.

To configure options choose Tools \ Addons \ Extensions from the Firefox menu bar then the Panic Button Options.

Conclusion

Panic button for Chrome has some neat features but storing page titles in the Other Bookmarks folder is untidy and leaves them vulnerable to someone spotting them. The add-on for Firefox is a neater solution as the tabs are saved behind the scenes and it is possible to completely hide the button (by not adding it to the browser toolbar), not just make it semi-invisible.

However, both Panic Button addons do hide browser tabs quickly and conveniently. They can also be used to temporarily store a set of open tabs to come back to later – handy if you have too many tabs open to see the wood from the trees.

I do wonder why the Chrome version has over 300,000 more users than the Firefox version even though both addons are good and both browsers are close in usage/popularity?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments – do Chrome users panic more often ;-)