Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Firefox extensions to make remote work and school a little better (blog.mozilla.org)
531 points by joeyespo 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 194 comments

I didn't see multi-account containers mentioned:


That one changed my life. It allows me to log into different AWS accounts at the same time. Also different Gmail accounts at once (like my kids' email and mine).

Also it gives you a massive boost in privacy since cookies don't follow you around since they are restricted to one container.

Combined with Container Tabs Sidebar:


You get the tree style tabs with automatic organization by container.

The final feature I am waiting for is a way to control browser extensions per container. No extension should be running when I login to my bank or insurance portal.

For such use cases I use different browser profiles. It is a bit tiresome to set up, but afterward it works.

For example, I have a profile for watching videos via Amazon and Netflix, which uses dark mode and some high-resolution extensions, but not tree-style-tabs which I use with my normal browser profile.

For a non-mainstream-feature I thought that rather easy. Open about:profiles, click "create new profile", enter a name, and then use the "Launch profile in new browser" buttons on that page to use that profile.

I have one for work and one for non-work and it's great!

In addition, you might want to add an entry to your system menu or place shortcut somewhere to start a new instance:

  /usr/bin/firefox -P my-profile --no-remote

If you want more fine grained control, check out https://github.com/dyne/tinfoil

I actually have some scripts for managing not just profiles but extensions. Hopefully I can get it cleaned up in time to put on Github.

Profiles are cumbersome in Firefox. Chrome has much better support for Profiles.

Funnily enough, I have extensions disabled in incognito mode, so I use the temporary incognito window for banks and other risky stuff.

As my extensions include ublock0, umatrix and cookie autodelete normal tab close behaviour usually eradicates everything.

This, also as an expansion on this idea, I would love to see per container password management or atleast per Multi-Account container password management.

This combined with Container Proxy helped me a lot WFH. I can have my Work tabs going through the proxy and let all my other tabs use my normal internet connection.

For per-domain, or even per-subdoamin proxy routing, I highly recommend FoxyProxy[1]. It works with containers as well.

It was broken by the Firefox Quantum update, by after a long and patient wait the original author rewrote the addon to work acceptably again.

[1]: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/foxyproxy-sta...

I stil think profiles (personas in chrome) are better and more flexible. I can completely have different browsers, extensions, themes, for different contexts. This beats containers for me.

Firefox --no-remote

One significant advantage of the Firefox model is the ability to bind domains to a container. I cannot open my Internet Banking in the same container as the hacking forums I might frequent, it will automatically launch in the correct container. I use Chrome personas a lot (I have 8 on the go currently) because, frankly I like Chrome more, but container URL isolation is a better implementation of workload isolation. IMHO. I'm constantly opening URLs in the wrong container because I just ctrl+T and start typing.

Actually you've inspired me to use a 'timewaster' blocking extension to prevent some URLs from loading in my main personas. Might achieve the same thing.

I've created a little app for myself that opens the right (Firefox) profile when another application tries to start the browser. It's registered as the default browser so it handles all the cases.

I guess I could also write a userscript that handles the links being opened from the browser itself. Like the timewaster extension you mentioned but also starts the right instance in background.

That sounds as a good idea, how does that script look like?

Simple command line program that looks at its arguments and decides what browser to open. Nothing fancy.

To each their own.

I don’t need a whole separate Chrome install just so I can open an AWS console in each one. Seems like a lot of overhead for two tabs.

Correct, you don't. Chrome profiles use the same installation of Chrome. There is no real overhead, and the only limitation is that profiles must use different windows.

I’m aware it’s a single installation of Chrome. But it runs a second copy for the other other profile. That’s a lot of resource overhead.

Also requiring another window is a lot of extra mental overhead to keep track of all the windows.

For example right now I have 12 Firefox containers running. They are 15 tabs in a single window.

With Chrome profiles, I’d need 12 windows, most with just one tab.

I don't have a use for Personas in Chrome, but it's regrettable that profiles in Firefox aren't more user friendly, because I need different proxy/root certificates settings.

Accessing my company's VPN requires proxying all internet traffic and accepting their own special root certificate, via McAfee's crap and thus can theoretically MITM my communications.

Firefox can be configured to not accept such root certificates. So I'd need a company profile and a personal profile.

But unfortunately opening profiles in Firefox is a pain. And my MacOS doesn't consider the opened windows as part of the same app, but on the other hand you can't assign them a specific icon, so switching between them is a pain.

If Chrome's profiles allowed me to disallow custom system-wide root certificates, I would switch to it. But Chrome has no such settings.

You can install Firefox developer edition in parallel for your work. It has a blue icon that separates it.

+Beta +Nightly, each with a different icon

It's annoying that Firefox has the same feature (profiles) since basically forever, but no UI for quick access. I assume it's coming as they now show the signed-in user in the toolbar.

I'm in the same boat. I got excited when i heard about containers in Firefox but was disappointed when i actually used it for the reasons you mentioned.

I'm still on Chrome mostly because of this, even though profiles are a crutch and, for example I cannot force Chrome to open specific URLs in specific profiles--this would be a killer feature for me.

They both have their usage. But I found switching profiles in Chrome is way more convenient: you can just click the top right button and choose another one.

For Firefox, in pre-57 era, there was an add-on called "Profilist" which can do the same (and better), but unfortunately you can't use it (or do something similar) more in web-ext.

With this


you don't have to click anything — press `Ctrl+.`, and a number button from 1 to (however many containers you have configured.)

I switched it to a different combination so it can be used with one hand.

I meant different profiles (with actual config folders for each profile), not accounts

Same here. I use different Chrome and Firefox profiles for different tasks. One for work, one for banking, one for news+HN,..., and last but not least one for fully automated tasks with the kantu browser macro extension.

If you want to log in to multiple AWS accounts, the best solution I have found is a thin shell script wrapper around `aws-vault login` [0] that opens Chrome with a dedicated profile. aws-vault stores an API key in your local keychain, fetches a temporary session key on demand, and logs you in automatically.

I've put the shell script I use here:


You should be able to adapt it to Firefox pretty easily.

[0] https://github.com/99designs/aws-vault

Add in uMatrix and https everywhere and it's a whole new world

I heavily use this - it has made my work flow so much better as I can separate work/personal/NearBeach etc.

Don't multi-account containers just separate cookies (and maybe other storage mechanisms)? I'd expect that a lot of people want separate bookmarks and extensions, too.

I think you have to use multiple profiles to do that, which is kind of clunky. Anyone know of they have plans to make managing and using multiple profiles smoother?

Different use cases. I need to log into a bunch of AWS accounts. I don’t need whole profiles for that. I just need isolated cookies per tab.

Also the privacy is nice having every tab in its own container.

I use it for multi account login. 10 different aws accounts open at once.

> Also different Gmail accounts at once (like my kids' email and mine)

This has been a standard feature for Google accounts for at least 2(?) years.

more like 10y, but it breaks down when you get deeper in the google maze

If that's the case I want several years of my professional life back. I spent years clumsily juggling Google account sessions.

+1 for this. I use it with notion(and pinned tabs) so I can have multiple workspaces with multiple emails

Isn't this the default behavior / reason for containers to exist?

The default behavior only isolates Facebook properties from the rest. For some reason you need a plug-in to do other containers.

I believe you're thinking of the "Facebook Container" addon - it's "official", in that it's made by people at Mozilla & has their corporate blessing, but it's not installed by default.

AIUI, the only "container" functionality built-in to the browser is... infrastructure, I guess you'd call it: Firefox provides all the tools for addons to do stuff with containers, but doesn't actually do anything with them itself.

Plus cookies auto delete it's a breeze.

> I didn't see multi-account containers mentioned

Probably because that's not related to remote work and school?

Although I personally don't use it, it certainly is. Many people will have different personal and work accounts on certain services, and in this times, they will both be used on the same machine.

Except it definitely is related. Keeping personal browsing and work-related browsing separate without containers is near impossible. At one point I resorted to using different browsers for work vs. personal just to keep things separate.

It’s more related than most of the items on the list.

It allows you to load your work and personal tabs in different containers, or school and personal.

I can't describe in short how Tree Style Tab improves tab management.

* You can logically organize tabs, very valuable when you researching something, or when you work on multiple related web pages. Say, issue tracker, a PR or two github for this issue, a couple of doc pages related to the code, etc. The beauty of it is that the tabs mostly self-organize based on the opening order.

* You can expand and contract whole subtrees to keep current things in focus, and other things, readily available.

* You can have 30 or 50 tabs and still actually read the captions of the tabs!

* You can bookmark the whole subtree, or move it to a separate window, or close all of its tabs, or refresh all of its tabs, etc.

Along with this, I added this snippet to firefox/userChrome.css:

    #TabsToolbar { visibility: collapse !important; }
I absolutely love it, now there's no title bar on my Firefox. My screen is big enough that I have the horizontal space to spare, and it feels sleek without the tabs on top. If you've tried out Firefox before and felt like it wasn't quite there yet, now is a good time to give it another try.

More info on userChrome here, if anybody wants to try it out: https://www.userchrome.org/how-create-userchrome-css.html

I've just modified my Firefox like this and I'm now also in love with it. Tree organization plus seeing whole/most tab names is such an improvement. F1 to easily hide the bar if I want the space back. Made a few "header" web pages to organize stuff under for later reading/watching (and can then collapse the tree when I don't need all of it.

Only issue is that removing the tab bar also got rid of the close/minimize/maximize buttons, but it's not a big deal since you can still drag the window to make it smaller, double click to maximize, and alt+F4 exists to close it. As long as I never want to minimize it anyway.

I was trying to think of a way to organize different sections like "work" and "personal", header web pages is a great idea.

I do the same and I love it! I use the Tab Center Redux add-on for displaying tabs, but most of the time I don't and I know where my tabs are, switching between them using cmd+<index>. I toggle tab display using F1.

I love tree style tabs but it takes up a lot of horizontal screen real estate. It's great when my browser is in fullscreen but most of the time I have a terminal on the right half with my browser on the left. This winds up smooshing the actual website to switch to a mobile layout (if I'm lucky). Otherwise the website is rendered useless.

Is it possible to make the sidebar float atop the webpage instead of pushing the content in? Then perhaps it could quickly autohide as you move your cursor near it.

On wide screen monitors, a maximized browser is almost pointless these days - either lines are uncomfortably long, or on better designed sites, margins are enormous.

I generally size my Firefox so that the viewing portal is approximately square - the area with content is as wide as my monitor is high - leaving plenty of space for tab tree on the left, and then another 1/4 of a screen for things like terminals to be cascaded.

Cascaded windows are more efficient than tiled or docked windows. The bottom left corner of cascaded windows act a bit like tabs for selecting a window.

This is on two 30" monitors. If you're on a laptop then things may be different. On my Macbook, I fullscreen most apps and swipe between them, but I don't do any serious work on laptop screens, they're too small.

Sorry, is this in opposition to my comment, in support of it, or just an unrelated tidbit?

As I said, I prefer to have my browser at about 50% horizontal width. The only reason I wind up using it in fullscreen is because of the aforementioned issue with tree style tabs taking too much space.

You can turn it on and off quickly with the F1 key. And I'm pretty sure the hotkey is configurable.

My issue is that you can’t disable the default tab bar, so you end up wasting a lot of space by rendering each tab twice. It also makes the habit (of using the default horizontal tabs) a tough one to break.

Here's the official wiki page for style hacks: https://github.com/piroor/treestyletab/wiki/Code-snippets-fo...

You can hide the tab bar, the sidebar header, and change a whole lot more things with custom styles.

You can do it, but I wish there was an easy way to sync the hacky configuration between computers.

Of course you can.


root directory → open directory

create a new file `chrome/userChrome.css` and put this into it:

    #main-window[tabsintitlebar="true"]:not([extradragspace="true"]) #TabsToolbar > .toolbar-items {
        opacity: 0;
        pointer-events: none;
    #main-window:not([tabsintitlebar="true"]) #TabsToolbar {
        visibility: collapse !important;
    #sidebar-header {
        display: none;
    toolbarbutton#alltabs-button {
restart the browser

It also removes some other junk like the new tab button.

Thanks this is very useful!

Note: To enable userChrome reading, set

to true in


Thank you for the update on the instructions, but its still not working in Firefox. Anything else I can try or need to do?

That didnt change anything in my Firefox 76.0.1 on Mac 10.14.6. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Didnt work for my Chrome either (83.0.4103.61) This site can’t be reached. The webpage at chrome://profiles/ might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address. ERR_INVALID_URL


to true in

and restart firefox which can be done from

by clicking

  restart normally

I developed this extension with a dedicated window (Command+T to toggle) to make it easier.


My situation is a bit different: I have a 4K display, so space is not at such a premium, but I have 70-100 tabs open, in several large subtrees, and smaller subtrees within them, etc.

It is possible to make the tree pretty narrow if the screen is small, then the tabs begin to look more like the crowded top tab bar, but still allow for some structure.

Alternatively: I was thrown off by the new tab behavior in Tree-Style Tabs and didn't want the complexity of a tree of tabs. Vertical Tabs Reloaded[0] gives me the "tabs in a sidebar to the left" without the complexity.

[0]: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/vertical-tabs...

How does this help? Easier to read tab titles since it's horizontal?

You can fit more tabs while still being able to read them, basically.

Was using it extensively, have customised it with userchrome file.

But then went to idea of having fewer tabs open and only w.r.t context I'm working on. Lesser number of tabs made things much more simpler for me.

Have been both sides, and must way for people with lots of tabs, tree style tabs is seriously good.

For this I use Simple Tab Groups: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/addon/simple-tab-gr...

I have a "Work" group that I switch to when working, and separate groups for the different personal projects I'm working on. That ensures that my tab bar only has the tabs relevant to my current context, while being able to easily switch back to the previous context and I pick up that work again.

It does slow down when you have >100 tabs though, to the point that on my 2013 Mac it becomes noticeable during work; and on a browser restart or TST update, it can take upward of a minute of just being stuck.

I used TST religiously, but one day I closed it for a few minutes to get more real estate, and everything was so much faster I haven’t re-opened it.

That's when you get Auto Tab Discard[1]! You can set a number of tabs and time for each tab after which the extension will start discarding the tab contents and leaving a placeholder in place, that will re-load when you move to them.

I have a lowest-spec 2014 mbp and I can have hundreds of "open" tabs with no sweat.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/auto-tab-disc...

> LanguageTool: By default, this extension will check your text by sending it to https://languagetool.org over a securely encrypted connection. No account is needed to use this extension. We don't store your IP address.

Honestly I'd pay good money if someone invented a competitor to this, Grammerly, or Ginger that was all local (an actual usage for machine learning/NLP!). It doesn't need to be perfect just better than the bad spelling/grammar solution built into Firefox, and more private than these services.

Here is how you run your own languagetool server :]


Thanks giving that a shot now.

Edit: Alright this is pretty good. I'm going to stick with this for a while. It was super easy to get up and going (just spawn with "start javaw" for a background daemon).

I installed the 14 GB n-gram data too, which makes it even better. Only tip is that the command line arguments are case specific for some reason (languagemodel vs languageModel matter).

Don't forget to give the creators the "good money" you promised :) https://languagetool.org/#Price

> It doesn't need to be perfect just better than the bad spelling/grammar solution built into Firefox

I'm still puzzled by the bad spelling tool. At first I wondered why they didn't just grab the spelling tool from some other open source project, such as Libre Office. But then someone told me that they do use the same spelling tool that Libre Office uses: Hunspell. Hunspell is also used by Chrome and it is the built-in spelling tool on MacOS.

So then the reason it sucks on Firefox must be the dictionaries? But every correctly spelled word that Firefox tells me is misspelled that I've tried in Libre Office passes...so the question then is why Firefox doesn't use whatever dictionary Libre Office uses?

Do you have a dictionary for your language installed? Do you have that language selected in the spelling context menu?

For.English this should be set up by default, but I'd double-check.

I have "English (United States)" selected in that menu. It is the only option.

I've also tried selecting "Add dictionaries...". The page that goes to says that there are two available for my locale.

These are "English (US) Language Pack" [1] and "English United States Dictionary" [2]. I have installed both of them.

Those do show up as enabled under "Languages" and "Dictionaries", respectively, on the about::addons page.

This does not change the options available in the spelling context menu. It only contains "English (United States)" as it did before adding that dictionary and language pack, and there is no change in the results on my test words [3].

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/english-us-la...

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/us-english-di...

[3] Here's my current test words that Firefox incorrect says are misspelled: prosecutable subtractive tunable epicycle inductor subparagraphs transactional micropayments blacksmithing inductor solvability verifier ethicist tradable tradeable auditable splitter surveil responder commenter. The other things that I know use Hunspell (MacOS, Chrome, Libre Office) get all of those right except for "tradeable".

There seems to be a list of available dictionaries at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/language-tools/

Related protip for people using multiple languages/dictionaries: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/addon/automatic-spe...

Language Tool which you linked to is open source, GPL licensed. It's "okay".

First I've heard of LanguageTool, and it looks like they have some off-line capability, but this seems like an area where having it run in the cloud makes more sense. LanguageTool definitely __feels__ more trustworthy than Grammarly, so I'm giving it a go.

Mozilla mentioned a research project of offering local ML models for translations. But haven't seen any mention of it since.


They have a local server option. read the "Offline Use" section at the bottom of that page.

Antidote has been around for a while It supports both French and English.


A few of these have the "Access your data for all websites" permission and honestly, I can't shake the feeling that I'm giving away all data on all websites at all times if I install any of these

As an extension developer, I hate to say it, but you're absolutely right to feel that way. I've had people offer to pay me to put tracking or buy an extension outright, and my extensions aren't even that popular; I can only imagine what emails developers of extensions with 100k+ users get.

If anyone from Firefox is reading these, I'd love a way to link an extension to a Github repository with a particular hash, and have users be able to verify that the code in the extension actually matches what's in the repo. Currently, even if an extension "lives" on GitHub, there's no way to know that what's in the extension library matches what's on Github.

That's terrifying. Is there any auditing done by Mozilla to get an extension published? Or is it a free for all?

To their credit, Mozilla does have an approval process, but it's pretty opaque what actually happens during that process. They also have a "Recommended Extensions" program which does more thorough vetting, apparently. Chrome is more of a free-for-all.

> Chrome is more of a free-for-all

Chrome is very strict, as of the last several months, about what they allow. There's even a sticky in the support group for people whose extensions have been stuck in review for more than 3 weeks:


This is the flip side to Google and Firefox both making their extension much more locked down by removing some APIs entirely and requiring signing and approval. There are reasons to be upset that such practices hurt useful existing extensions that people like, but there's also reason to be relieved they are doing so.

The old extension system while more powerful, was pretty flaky anyway. Every browser update had a good chance of breaking extensions. At least now there is a clear api that can be kept stable over updates.

Firefox addons are reviewed, though as others note the process is a bit opaque. Interestingly, sometimes a release is approved, but then later someone comes back with issues. This is somewhat concerning as both a user and a dev. For users, it means there may be rogue extensions out there that haven't been closely reviewed yet. And for devs, it's frustrating to have a release approved and then months later to get audited.

Chrome is getting more granular in their approval process, but it seems that they're still a bit behind.

There's a dead comment that seems pretty revealing in terms of the review process:

    SmallPeePeeMan 13 hours ago [dead] [–]

    I’m an extension reviewer at adding.mozilla.org. Extensions that request certain permissions are manually reviewed. Others are automatically approved. Recommend extensions are ALWAYS manually reviewed for each update.
I'm curious what the _manual review_ process looks like. There are so many questions that come to mind: Is it a single person or multiple individuals reviewing the extension? Does it require the reviewer to be familiar with the code base of the extension? Wouldn't that be a significant burden, or are these reviews cursory? Do the reviews take 10 minutes? 30 minutes? days? Is the review documented? Can the review be public? Do they review the source code on github/gitlab/etc or are they reviewing the submitted file(s)?

I’m an extension reviewer at adding.mozilla.org. Extensions that request certain permissions are manually reviewed. Others are automatically approved. Recommend extensions are ALWAYS manually reviewed for each update.

We have 600k users, we get an email every few weeks from shifty 'investors' looking to buy the extension.

You can audit the code of a Firefox extension by unzipping the .xpi file in the extensions directory within your browser profile directory.

Not ideal, but it's better than nothing.

Are you proposing to do that for every update that comes in, for every extension? Far from ideal.

Oh, yes, it's far from ideal.

I'm reminded of the ArchLinux AUR, which deals with a problem kind of like this. AUR managers show a diff of what changed in a package on each update.

Perhaps one could make extension auditing easier by scripting together a Git repository from extracted xpis, and presenting updates as patches to that repository. This is probably only viable for high-security environments - it's not with it in the common case.

Of course, the real fix would come from Firefox itself: it should provide signed extensions and a way to tie them back to Git repositories with source code, which would eliminate the need for the above automation, and allow people to crowdsource extension auditing.

Since the rise of typescript and other transpilers to javascript, this isn't very feasible.

That's really interesting to hear, I had always wondered how bad things can really be. I guess the answer is "as bad as money can buy" which I should have expected. Thanks.

Linking to a particular hash is a great idea. I encourage you to open a feature request as this could go a ways towards making users with extensions that require that kind of permission feel more secure

I would like to see a tab in about:addons that shows how much data each addon has received and transmitted and to what names/ip's/ports. Could Firefox be modified to do something like this? Perhaps an extension of about:networking?

User.scripts are cool for small tweaks but also for large ones with dubious access.

This is a problem with how poorly extension permissions are handled by the browsers. There needs to be a way to gracefully ask a user for permanent (and configurable) extended permissions without it being an earth shattering event.

My experience: I have a moderately popular extension that initially only supported a couple sites so I set the permissions accordingly. I would extend permissions every time I added support for another site. However, with each permission increase my extension gets completely disabled for every user with a very scary warning that suggests something nefarious is happening. With each permission update I would lose HALF of my users. My alternatives are activeTab (awful user experience) or just being greedy with my permissions. I went with the latter.

Could you not use permissions.request() [0] to ask for access to a given site on-the-fly, when the user actually visits it? That seems to be how, for example, Reddit Enhancement Suite goes about getting perms for all the various sites it supports embedding content from (imgur, twitter etc) - you get a prompt when you click to open an embed for a site you haven't granted the permission for already.

[0] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Add-ons/Web...

Any extension that asks for that sadly a complete no for me. That is way too broad a permission for something as sensitive as the contents of every site I browse. I’ve found recently it means pretty much all extensions are unusable for me.

I just installed tree style tabs at the recommendation of this article and it was refreshing the way they handled permissions: a first-use popup that explains some additional features and what permissions they will request if you want to use them.

Firefox should provide the ability to white list, or blacklist extension on certain sites. Chrome has it. I don't know why it's taking them forever.

The problem is that scary as that is, as I understand, in order to interact with browser content itself, that permission is necessary. So it isn't possible to implement, say the Language Tool extension, or something that changes the appearance of webpages without that permission. I haven't looked at all these extensions to see if the permissions they ask are reasonable for what they do.

Perhaps it would be possible to create more granular controls, although I don't think it would be a simple task.

The current situation, is unfortunately bad for both users who must grant scary permissions to use useful extensions, and for extension authors who must ask for permissions that are more broad than what they really need, because it is the only option.

Extension devs are notoriously lazy in that they just build first without thinking about the bare minimum permissions that they need to function.

I believe Pushbullet got caught using too many permissions recently.

Browsers don't provide simple tools to audit permission needs.

You are. Exercise caution. As a former extension maintainer that permission is as scary as it sounds.

I feel exactly the same way. No one should blindly trust installing anything that runs on every page they visit.

On Chrome, any extension that asks for permission to view/edit all your pages can be limited to a specific set of domains. I don't think Firefox has this feature, but would love to hear if it does.

May I humbly suggest https://histre.com/ that I'm building?

Not only can you bookmark and take notes, you can share collections of bookmarks with your teams and they can add theirs to the collection too.

You can save all the open tabs in a browser window into a collection and either use it to restore that window later - perhaps even in a different browser or computer, or share that with your teams so they can open the same set of tabs.

It has tree style web history too.

The disjointed suggestions they have in this post is actually fully integrated in Histre, Emacs-style if you will. The core idea is that you generate a lot of signal as you go about your day doing stuff online and that can automatically be put to use for you. Unlike the Knowledge Bases like Notion and Evernote, where you need to capture and organize the information (which is useful in a different way), Histre strives to automatically organize it for you.

I'd argue that this supports the "remote work and school" usecase better.

Speaking of integrations, it has Hacker News integration too. Your upvotes are saved into a collection. You can then share that collection with just some friends or make it public (sort of your frictionless publishing page). I'm working on recommending articles based on your HN upvotes.

I created an account and then I was asked for my credit card details for a 30 day trial. I declined to do so and went to the home page where I was invited to install an extension.

I clicked on the Firefox logo and it was a broken link so I can't really give this a ride.

Hey really sorry about that, bad timing. I got an email from a Firefox reviewer this morning asking me to remove the uses of innerHTML. I'm working on fixing that. It is taking a little while because of how I use it in Quill (https://quilljs.com/). I'll send you an email once it is fixed. The extension is open source by the way: https://gitlab.com/histre/browser-extension

I've fixed the Firefox issue now. Please give it a try: https://histre.com/install/

This looks super cool, I'm very interested in trying it. It looks like the link to the Firefox extension is broken though, is there a workaround to install the extension?

Thanks! Sorry, I'm fixing this. The extension is actually open source, so you could install it from source from here: https://gitlab.com/histre/browser-extension But then you won't receive updates. So please give me some time to fix it and then you can install from Firefox addons page.

I agree. Piecing together a bunch of extensions doesn't help improve my workflow. I love that it is all integrated here. Being able to share is great!

What's the takeout process look like? That is, once I generate a body of useful information but perhaps decide to move on from the service, how do I usefully take it with me? Or is that part of my lock-in?

Definitely no plans for lock in. I haven't implemented downloading the data yet but I will do that soon. I'm working on csv and Emacs org file exports first.

You mention “automatically” a couple times, can you elaborate on what it is doing and how it does it? At the moment, it’s not clear.

I'll vouch for Tree Style Tabs. It's a killer extension that changed the way I work and made Firefox into a serious productivity workhorse for me. I can easily manage 10x as many tabs as I could before without ever feeling like I'm getting lost in them.

Vertical tabs are a game changer. I've been using Vertical Tabs Reloaded [0] which similar but doesn't have nesting and added a userChrome.css in my Firefox profile directory [1] to hide the top bar tabs

  #TabsToolbar {
    visibility: collapse !important;

[0] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/vertical-tabs...

[1] https://www.userchrome.org/how-create-userchrome-css.html

I was not familiar with userChrome.css before. Thanks for sharing! My browsing experience has improved by removing the top tab bar.

That's really cool. Is there a way to keep windows standard window buttons (restore / minimize and close)?

I've been using TST for a while now but this week I have found new improvements.

I have started using Simple Tab Groups rather than OneTab and I have customised the CSS in userChrome.css and now have a slimmer sidebar that expands on hover.

Gif here: https://postimg.cc/xJ2jfFGx

Edit: here's the repo where I got the expand TST on hover style https://github.com/TanzNukeTerror/Compact-FirefoxCSS/

This is sweet, cheers! I played around off the back of this to get a bit of a hybrid going - pinned / active tabs up top and grouped / standard tabs down the side: https://gist.github.com/theprojectsomething/6813b2c27611be03...

Can you share your userChrome.css? That looks great!

Now that's slick, well done!

Make this two requests to share the css.

Would also love to see your userChrome.css file :)

I used to have an older extension that did this but it broke a few years ago. I have moved to a workflow where I open a new Firefox window for each of the branches in the tree. I combine this with multiple spaces in MacOS to group by task. This works very well for me because I can then have the browser grouped with iterm sessions and emails and other suporting documentation.

The major drawback is that Firefox does not re-open windows in their previous space. They all open on a random space the next time Firefox launches.

This makes Firefox updates and system reboots (frequent of late on MacOS) a pain. I have gotten good at moving the windows back to their correct spaces but if Mozilla fixed this so the windows restored to their previous spaces I would be delighted.

e: Looks like Mozilla fixed this in FF 75: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=440895 I generally run ESR releases for work but I might risk an upgrade to a later version to get this fixed.

I wish I’d had your success. I tried using Spaces for a while but they can’t be named (or couldn’t when I was trying it) so I’d end up cycling through similar looking spaces trying to recover my place all the time.

Being sent back to another space when I go to open, say, a new terminal but it’s already open somewhere else was a pain too. If I’m in a space I want to be able to start apps there without doing a time wasting dance.

I never have more than 2 spaces open now, and rarely. Feels like a missed opportunity to me from one more half-finished good idea by Apple.

I had to fiddle a lot of defaults to make it work.

> Being sent back to another space when I go to open, say, a new terminal but it’s already open somewhere else was a pain too. If I’m in a space I want to be able to start apps there without doing a time wasting dance.

Take a look at your mission control settings and uncheck "When switching to an application, switch to a Space with open windows for the application".

I put a lot of energy in to "getting" spaces a couple years ago and there was a learning curve for a couple weeks but now I have a model that works with the features that exist. The effort definitely paid off.

I think spaces are a fairly polished idea from Apple actually. The problem is they create features that work well for a specific use case but then don't clearly explain what that use case is or how their solution works. You very much have to "hold it right" and it's up to you to figure out what "right" is. I figure MacOS is a tool, like a hammer, I should learn how to "swing" it.

The lack of named spaces is ok for me, I can tell from context what each space is for and I consider them ephemeral.

I do not let MacOS rearrange my spaces based on use (this is another option, "Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use") because I have them sorted by my own mental model of priority. The left most space is always a general desktop space with a browser and mail and IM, etc. The right most space is a "system" space with things like task manager, system preferences and a terminal window with homebrew commands and whatever invocation of jamf commands it takes to get back on the corporate network.

Any time something in space #1 requires more than a couple browser tabs or an email I tend to throw it into a new space. I also arrange it somewhere in the existing stack by importance. This means I am almost always doing productive work in space #2. Before a meeting or call I will open up the relevant email thread(s), invite, browser tabs, etc in a new space so I have the full context without distractions.

This is exactly why I allow myself the odd moan on HN, more than occasionally (and more than I deserve) I get a very helpful response like this. Even just the "When switching to an application…" setting is a gem, it's always easy to miss things like that (that's my excuse:)

I'll give it another go! Thanks.

Just in case anyone from Apple with the power to implement this happens by, I'd still like the ability to name my Spaces though.

I'm trying to like it, but I guess I don't really see what so game-changing about it. There are no keyboard shortcuts for navigating the tree, so there doesn't seem to be much you can do with it. While trying to find said keyboard shortcuts, I discovered that Firefox already lets you type "%" in your URL bar and search among your open tabs, and that turned out to be far more useful to me than TST.

I don't need extra keyboard shortcuts and am not sure how they would help. I already have Vimium for keyboard shortcuts. My tabs are just naturally organized into logical groupings, so I can visually scan for what I want very fast. Searching is nice when you can immediately think of the appropriate search terms but it's not a replacement for a clean visual arrangement of my tabs. Another very simple benefit is that I can read the tab title text easily even with lots of tabs, something that breaks down very fast with horizontally arranged tabs.

It helps that at this point I have a lot of subconscious habits about how I arrange tabs automatically. For instance, when browsing something like HN from the front page, if a link interests me I'll middle-click the comments link first, opening it in a sub-tab. If I'm interested in the article as well, then from the comments sub-tab I'll middle-click the article link, generating a sub-sub-tab. I don't even think about this; it's just how I've browsed sites like HN for a long time at this point. I end up with a nice little structured recreation of whatever part of the homepage I'm interested in at that moment. Then, if I don't want to worry about HN right now, I just collapse the entire tree and come back to it when I want a break.

Okay, thanks, that was interesting to see your detailed usage. Maybe I just don't have as many tabs open as some (56 right now, and I'm surprised it's that many), or I'm just less interested in knowing their hierarchical structure. Pretty much all I want to do with tabs is to go to them, and I find I almost always remember enough of the title to find them. Interestingly, "%" only offers tabs from the same container you're in right now -- I can't decide if that's a handy feature or not.

As far as other keyboard shortcuts, I would probably use TST more if it offered "search and goto tab" within the TST window itself, including tab-key to fold/unfold sub-tabs, and return to select the actual tab.

I wonder if I've been trained by Emacs not to need to visualize these things. When I was first using it, I definitely felt a little uneasy without a visual "overview".

I used TST for some time until I realised that the vast majority of the time I just needed 2 layers of open tabs, which are perfectly represented by tabs and windows.

Aggressively closing unused tabs has been much better for my organisation than organising them.

I've been using TST for years. It's essential for how I work and the research I sometimes have to do.

uBlock Origin needs to be on the list. It doesn't make remote work or school better, specifically, but it makes the whole web great (again).

yes - new computer/device for anyone in the family => install uBO. I've only had one complaint abouty a site that no longer worked properly (and it was both (a) garbage and (b) targeting kids specifically)

If you want to be more intentional about how you use your time online, I launched Intention on HN a little while ago:


Spent a lot of time getting privacy right: It only asks you for the sites you select (not all sites like most other extensions).

HN thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22936742

Intention is awesome.

I had a habit of unknowingly typing "g" in my Chrome's search bar and visit G1 (a Brazil's news site). It became something I just did that on a whim, multiple times along the day, and now Intention is saving me almost 50 minutes of productivity every day.

I just found your comment on another thread where you said that you wanted to find Ira Glass's video on "taste" but now it's been long enough that I can't reply to that comment, so I'm replying to this completely unrelated comment because I've also had trouble finding that video in the paste and decided to save the link the last time I found it.

Here it is: https://vimeo.com/85040589

Oh snap! That's awesome to hear.

I've been using it since it launched, it's amazing, thanks a lot !

Woo! Thanks Franky.

I love that idea and I am installing it now! Thanks!

I've found switching the user agent to Chrome to be the most effective solution for ensuring sites and platforms operate as expected, without degregaded experience.

Yes, this includes non-Google educational platforms that block access based on user agent (not compatibility)

If my kids are on Windows laptops I can use Microsoft Family settings to control OS lockout, app access and Edge restrictions.

If they're on tablets I can use Google Family for a similar experience with Android and Chrome.

If they're on Kindle Fires then Amazon offer similar Family settings.

OS aside, what does Firefox have to offer in this respect?

What's wrong with OS level control? Your kids can install alternative browser.

Windows can only control Edge, so all other browsers have to be blocked. same story with other OSes and their respective browsers

What kind of restrictions are we talking about?

I'd like to offer a recommendation for Zoom Tab Close[1]. It's an extremely simple extension that closes out the leftover tab when a zoom link received by the browser redirects to the desktop app. Just one bit of friction in my day ... gone.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/zoom-tab-clos...

When I switched to Firefox, I found the lack of pop-up styled Google Dictionary to be a deal-breaker. So I created an extension - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/popup-encyclo.... It supports both the dictionary and encyclopedia words. Students may find this extension useful.

We're releasing our extension soon for all browsers.


Here's extensions I use and my full setup: https://gist.github.com/niftylettuce/39597a7b3bc0660ffe1e09d...

    git clone https://github.com/zenorocha/codecopy
    git clone https://github.com/philc/vimium.git
    git clone https://github.com/OctoLinker/OctoLinker.git
    git clone https://github.com/ilGur1132/Smart-HTTPS.git
    git clone https://github.com/ovity/octotree.git
    git clone https://github.com/mrcoles/full-page-screen-capture-chrome-extension.git
+ https://github.com/jswanner/DontFuckWithPaste + https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock

Panorama Tab Groups is the best replacement for the old Tab groups extension : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/panorama-tab-...

I resisted upgrading for ages while there didn't seem to be a clear winning replacement.

Thank you so much for sharing this! I used Panorama so intensively and thought it was one of Fx's killer features. I'd given up hoping there would be a suitable replacement - until now.

My only issue with Panorama is that it conflicts with Vim Vixens 'next tab' commands a lot, and will often send me to another tab group which is particularly distracting and jarring. If there was no conflict I'd love to go back 100%

I love Panorama. It lets me setup different tab groups for each project and I can switch contexts very quickly.

I'm unfamiliar with the Dark Mode extensions referenced in this article, but I've had pretty good luck with Dark Reader.

It's not as performant on Firefox as on Chrome (and it really shows in Gmail in particular) but overall it's been very reliable and easy to customize when necessary.

My favorite extension is the "Tab reloader". I can set it to reload my work login page and it won't expire my session.

And uBlock Origin and Tree Tab are fundamental for the web. Containers also nice, I can login at sites like Trello and GitHub with different accounts.

Humbly suggesting BeeLine Reader for Chrome [1] and Firefox [2], which has seen a strong uptick in interest during WFH and distance learning. There's a 2-week free trial, and it's currently free for students via our covid program.

1: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/beeline-reader/ifj...

2: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/beelinereader...

I've tried Beeline multiple times and I every time I come out with varying experiences. For example it's pretty much useless for reading code stuff as it colors in code blocks with no way to disable that.

Also I'm certain it actually makes well formatted text harder to read. As in 60-70 character lines with healthy paragraphing and imagery.

I'm kinda perplexed that they are charging 2$/month for this extension when it could be replicated in javascript bookmarklet or grease monkey script. All it does is blindly apply gradient to text.

Not a fan of accessibility innovations like this being made propriatory like this either.

You're right about code blocks! We offer a domain blacklist feature so that folks can prevent it from running on sites they read that have a lot of code, and we are working on a smarter way to detect code blocks and not color them.

If you're certain that BeeLine "makes well formatted text harder to read", then I'm pretty sure we're not for you! I'd be curious to know where you find it helpful? Just for text that is displayed too densely?

We're doing a bit more than blindly applying gradients to text! The first thing to figure out is where the body text is on a page. It's not easy to avoid overcoloring (accidentally coloring captions or text that is on a different-colored background) and undercoloring (not coloring all of the main blocks of text). It's easy to do these tasks on a handful of websites, but it's hard to come up with algorithms that work across the entire internet (in many languages). But yes, what we do is something that is proprietary, and that makes it different than some accessibility techniques. There are other aspects of accessibility that are proprietary, for example high-quality TTS voices like Amazon Polly.

But my goal is to have the technique that I invented, tested, and refined adopted into products so that users do not have to pay for plugins and such. There's good progress on this front, with major e-textbook platforms and big newspapers looking to integrate the tech. Once we get a couple of these larger licensees on board, there's a good chance we'll make the consumer tools free for individuals.

sorry to put you on the spot but what makes it difficult to simply ignore `\<pre>` blocks?

As to answer your question - beeline is great for _badly_ formatted texts. Many articles are in whooping 120 character long lines or absurdly long, bland paragraphs. In those cases the benefit of beeline is definitely noticable!

Finally for technical bits, it seems that that beeline extension colors each letter individually, however modern css already offers horizontal gradient[1] which might be prettier and somewhat preserve the original document better.


Thanks for the advice! The last item is the most important I think, and the reason we didn't originally do this is because the plugin has been cross-platform since launch in 2013. I believe at that time the CSS technique only worked on certain browsers. We have been talking about updating the coloring technique to use CSS, but it hasn't been a top priority compared to everything else we've been doing (both on the browser plugin and on the rest of the business).

I'm going to talk with the team about your suggestion regarding \<pre> blocks. We're early in the process of addressing this issue, which has come up recently. Hope it's a quick fix!

If you don't use tree style tabs to browse the web, you're probably doing it wrong.

Was using it extensively, have customised it with userchrome file.

But then went to idea of having fewer tabs open and only w.r.t context I'm working on. Lesser number of tabs made things much more simpler for me.

Have been both sides, and must way for people with lots of tabs, tree style tabs is seriously good.

I did the same. I was relying on tree style tab heavily and kept 30-40 tabs opened all the time. Obviously without the extension this would be a pain.

But then I realized that most tabs I have opened hang there for weeks and months without me even looking at them, occupying screen and mental space. Now I made a simple habbit: once I've read the tab and don't need it right now, I just close it. Should I need to return to it later, it's trivial to re-open it from history.

One might think it's kind of a konmari approach, and when you're doing it you don't need extra management tools anymore.

Since we're talking about extensions, can I suggest my own Tip Tab [1] for visually navigate and manage tabs? Just updated it after a year of break. I mostly use it for quick search and keyboard navigation (ctrl-shift-F, type search term, Tab Tab Tab Enter to jump to the tab). Also use the predefined search terms like, mail, news, finance, etc, to quickly filter down the tabs.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tip-tab/

Suggest mine Tab Manager v2 too: it has VIM-like navigation (hjkl) and other features can be searched via Command+Shift+P. And Command+T (Alt+T for non-macOS) to toggle the popup window:


I use Sidebery for tab management and find it more lightweight than Tree Style Tab


And LeechBlock NG has massively helped me gain back my wasted time browsing the web


Wow, this is awesome. Much more responsive than Tree Style Tabs from what I'm seeing, and the grouping mechanism is great. Thanks for the heads up.

I wish they would let you hide Firefox accounts behind passwords so the browser just looks vanilla when you sign out. Rather it leaves bookmarks behind.

Makes it hard to use with sharing devices like an iPad and etc.

Does iOS not have user accounts? Every other OS has this and it makes this feature useless.

iPads behave as single user device, so they don't allow for multi users at the OS level.

Personally I'd prefer both Firefox and iOS support multi user things ... even if just for my own convenience. I have "work" and "home" type profiles.

Some Android distros also disable this feature. Samsung, for example.

I still miss the mouse gesture extensions from the pre-Web Extensions days. The suggested replacements only work on a loaded webpage, which limits their use as a replacement to keyboard shortcuts, especially when combined with a tab unloader extension[1].

[1] such as https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/auto-tab-disc...

Learned about midnight lizard thanks to this post. like it a lot. some websites take a while till they are rendered in midnight mode. However, my laptop is not very powerful.

speed dials! this one is open source and privacy conscious (i'm the author):


Simple tab groups it's a game changer. At least, I can have separate my tab setup when I'm working, from the stuff that I have open when I'm with my side projects, or when I simply doing other unrelated stuff.

Also, the Private bookmarks, was a thing that I was feeling very necessary like many years ago. It isn't perfect (alpha stage) but does the work.

The joplin extension and application.

(https://joplinapp.org/ - next cloud syncing functionality baby!)

Duplicate tabs closer

> Impulse Blocker is here to keep you away from those distracting, timesink websites

... which are the primary use case for Firefox (and all other web browsers.)

These maybe / are great features and extensions, but I don’t see what any of them have to do with WFH?

It's a good time for companies based on improving remote work/school...

I fail to see how is this related to remote work and not just work in general. Does firefox really need this this kind of "jump on the hype" kind of marketing ?

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact