Technology

What are Firefox Container Tabs and how do you use them?


Firefox has been one of my favorite web browsers for some time. Of all the browsers I use, Firefox is the most secure. There are many reasons for that added security, one of which is called Containers, aka Container Tabs. 

Essentially, the Containers feature allows you to keep parts of your online experience separated into color-coded tabs that help to preserve your privacy by separating cookies by container. 

With this feature you can ensure that cookies from, say, Facebook cannot interact with cookies from, say, Amazon, and it also allows you to log in to multiple accounts of the same service in the same browser. That feature alone is worth the price of admission (which is free).

Also: No browser is perfect. What’s a user to do?

Once upon a time the feature was added to Firefox by way of an extension. Since then, however, it has been baked into the browser. I’m going to show you how to enable and use Containers and Container Tabs in Firefox.

Requirements

The only thing you’ll need for this is an updated version of the Firefox web browser. That’s it. Let’s make Firefox even better.

Enabling Firefox container tabs

The first thing to do is open Firefox. With the browser open, click the Menu button and then select Settings.

With Settings open, locate the Tabs section, where you’ll see an entry for Enable Container Tabs. You can enable Container Tabs by clicking the associated checkbox. (If you’ve installed the Simple Tab Groups extension, you’ll find Container Tabs already enabled and grayed out so you can’t disable it.)

The Firefox container tabs option in Settings.

With the Simple Tab Groups extension active, Container Tabs can’t be disabled.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once you’ve enabled Container Tabs, you might want to create a new Container. Let’s say you want to create a Container for social networks. To do that, click Settings and, in the resulting window, click Add New Container. In the resulting pop-up, name the Container Social Networks, select a color for the tab, and choose an icon. With that complete, click Done to save the Container.

The Firefox Containers naming popup.

Naming and customizing Firefox Containers.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

How to use Container Tabs

Using Container Tabs is quite simple. Since we created a Container named Social Networks, I’ll demonstrate by creating a Container Tab for social network sites. Open a new tab and go to Twitter. Once the site loads, right-click the tab and select Open in New Container Tab > Social Networks. The tab will reopen and you’ll see a line above the tab that’s the same color you associated with the Social Networks Container Tab. You might find that, in doing this, you’ll have to log back in to Twitter.

The Open in New Container Tab menu entry in Firefox.

Opening a Twitter tab in the Social Networks Container.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

At this point, the Twitter tab will be isolated to the Social Networks Container Tab group and will not be able to share information from any tab outside of that group. 

And that’s all there is to enabling and using Firefox’s Containers and Container Tabs. Anyone who wants to add an extra layer of security and privacy to their browsing experience should seriously consider using this feature.



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