File Under: Browsers

Beta Update: Firefox 8 Offers Smarter Tab Restore

The official release of Firefox is now at version 7, which means that all the other Firefox channels have also been bumped up. Nightly now sits at version 10, Aurora at 9 and Beta now contains Firefox 8, which has several new features worth noting, including more control over add-ons and the ability to limit which tabs load on restart.

If you’d like to give the beta channel a try, just head on over to the Firefox channels page and download the beta release. Those of you already on the beta channel should be updated to the latest version the next time you restart Firefox.

Perhaps the most useful new feature in Firefox 8 is the ability to selectively restore tabs. If you use a lot of tabs you know that closing the browser with dozens of tabs open, and then firing it up again the next day, makes for a very slow restart. You’re left waiting for all those tabs to reload when all you want to see is one of them.

That’s why Firefox 8 adds an option to change the way Firefox reloads tabs when it starts. Using the new setting you can tell Firefox to only load the focused tab when it restarts. That way the tab you want loads and you don’t need to wait for all the rest to finish. Background tabs then load when you select them.

To enable the new tab restore features, head to Firefox’s Preferences and look for it under the General tab.

Firefox 8 also gives you more control over add-ons installed by third-party software. Now any add-ons you don’t explicitly install are disabled until you opt-in. That stops less than scrupulous developers from hijacking Firefox without your knowledge.

The latest beta of Firefox adds some new developer features as well, like support for the HTML5 contextmenu attribute, a part of the menu element that allows developers to add items directly to the browser’s right-click menu. More details about what’s new for developers can be found on the Mozilla developer wiki.

Other new features in the beta channel include a new default search option for Twitter, some better animations when dragging tabs around and improved security for websockets, which were just recently re-enabled in Firefox 7.

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