Firefox 20 was released last week with a new per-window Private Browsing feature – the New Private Window menu option opens a new Private window, separate from your current Firefox window.
This is like Chrome’s Incognito mode – you can now run a Private Browsing window at the same time as your current Firefox window. It’s a marked improvement on before when Private Browsing used to just save and hide your current tabs i.e. you could only browse in either Private or normal mode – not both at the same time.
However, a cool new extension improves upon this further by adding the ability to create a New Private Tab. As the name suggests, it lets you open a Private Browsing session in a tab within the current Firefox window, instead of having to open a new window and keep swapping between the two:
It also provides several useful context menu options and extra features which are reviewed below.
Private Tab – install the extension from Mozilla Add-ons here – no restart required. Note: the extension will only work in Firefox 20 or later because it requires the use of the new code (not present in Firefox 19 or earlier). The extension adds several new features:
1. It adds a New Private Tab option to the Firefox App menu (or File Menu on the menubar) as shown below – select it to open a new Private tab, underlined in blue to distinguish it from ordinary tabs. This option also has a Ctrl+Alt+P hotkey:
2. You can also convert any normal open tab into a Private tab – just right click on the tab and choose ‘Private Tab’ from the context menu to make it Private.
3. The reverse is also possible – right click a Private tab and click (to untick) the ‘Private Tab’ option to make the tab a normal tab again.
4. A context menu option is provided to open a website Link in a new tab – right click a Link and select ‘Open Link in New Private Tab’.
5. Another context menu option is provided to open a Bookmark in a new tab – right click a Bookmark and select ‘Open in a New Private Tab’.
6. Finally, there is an optional ‘New Private Tab’ toolbar button which you can add to the Menu Bar in the usual way for quick single click Private Tab opening. Add the button in the usual way – right click an empty space on the tab bar then choose Customize then drag and drop the button to where you want it as shown below.
Private Tab worked flawlessly in my own testing and, just like Private Windows, no web history or cookies etc were saved for those tabs. The only feature I would like to see improved is the blue underlining of the Private Tab – it’s not as obvious or clear as it could be. Ideally the whole tab color would be changed or a larger icon appended to it.
However, it does provide a genuine tab, rather than window, based privacy option which many people will find quicker and easier to use.