It is easy to Pin tabs in Firefox to keep your favorite websites available, even after restarting Firefox – this isn’t a new feature but many users don’t seem to be aware of it. Pinned tabs have six main features:
1. If the content of a Pinned tab changes (e.g. a new Tweet is posted to your feed) the tab changes to a blue color, making it easy to see there are updates available. This is particularly useful for app sites like Twitter and Facebook.
2. The Closed button is removed so you can’t close a Pinned tab accidentally – to close it you would have to right click it and choose ‘Close tab’ or Unpin it first. Note: see the ‘Tab Manager Addons’ section below if you use an extension to manage tabs.
3. Pinned tabs open automatically and stay pinned when Firefox starts.
4. A Pinned tab becomes much smaller as it only shows the site’s icon (to see at a glance what the site is) and not the title text. This frees up more space on the tab bar – useful if you have lots of open tabs.
5. If you click a website link in a Pinned tab the link always opens in a new tab – this avoids navigating away from your tab when opening links from it.
6. When you pin a tab it moves to the left side of the tab bar. An example of Twitter and Facebook Pinned tabs is shown below (Twitter has new tweets waiting so is highlighted blue):
How To Pin A Tab – Visit the site you want to keep available (log into it if required but see the ‘Privacy Risk’ section below). Right click the tab and choose ‘Pin Tab’ – the tab moves to the left side of the tab bar, becomes much smaller, displays just the site icon with no title and the Close button (x) disappears.
Updates to the page will change the tab color to blue. When you restart Firefox the Pinned tab(s) will be opened automatically at the left side of the tab bar.
How To Unpin A Tab – Right click the tab and choose ‘Unpin Tab’ – the tab reverts to a standard size, title and color but stays at the left of the tab bar (you can drag and drop it elsewhere on the tab bar if you wish). You can also unpin a tab by moving it – see the next section.
Rules On Moving A Pinned Tab – If you move (drag and drop) a Pinned tab to the right of a standard tab it will become Unpinned. If you move a Pinned tab to the immediate left or right of another pinned tab it will remain Pinned.
Tab Manager Addons – Some tab management add-ons (e.g. Tab Mix Plus) let you remove the Close (x) button from all tabs and configure another way to close a tab e.g. double click it. In this case, double clicking a Pinned tab will close it. If you have such an add-on and want to avoid accidental closing:
Right click the Pinned tab and choose ‘Protect tab’ (to tick that option). This adds a yellow shield to the tab and stops it from being closed by any means as shown below:
If you do ever want to close it, right click the tab and select ‘Protect tab’ again (to un-tick that option) then close it as normal.
Privacy Risk? The Session Restore feature of Firefox is used to open Pinned tabs automatically which may represent a privacy risk. As an example, if you log into Twitter and then Pin the tab, when Firefox next restarts, your Twitter tab will be opened automatically – still logged in with your feed available.
This is ideal for most users as it saves time but not if you share a Windows account with someone else – there is obviously a risk that they could open Firefox and tweet away using your account… If this is an issue you could just Pin your login page – so you have to enter the password every time Firefox starts.
Note: Restored tabs which are already logged in, as in the example above, bypass the security of even a Firefox Master Password because no password is required – the account is already logged in when the tab opens.
Troubleshooting Pinned Tabs – If they do not appear when you restart Firefox, you may have configured Firefox to delete your Browsing History on exit – or used a tool like Ccleaner to delete ‘temporary’ files. Pinned tabs require that your Browsing History is saved and that Firefox Session Restore is working. To avoid losing Pinned tabs:
- Click the Firefox button (or Tools) then Options and select the Privacy tab.
- Check under the History section that ‘Firefox will:’ is not set to ‘Never remember history’.
- If ‘Firefox will:’ is set to ‘Use custom settings for history’ ensure that ‘Always use private browsing mode’ is not ticked and that ‘Remember my browsing and download history’ is ticked:
- If ‘Clear history when Firefox closes’ is ticked, press the ‘Settings’ button to configure which history is cleared – ensure that ‘Browsing History’ is not ticked:
- If using Ccleaner, switch to the Applications tab as shown below and ensure that ‘Session’ is not ticked. Session is the equivalent of Browsing History – if deleted, there will be no session left to restore:
Pinned tabs are a neat way to keep your favorite websites available in Firefox, protect them from closing by mistake, take up less space and notify you when they are updated.