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Mich Rodz
Mich Rodz

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at Medium

To avoid being tracked, browse in multiverses

What do James Bond, Deepak Chopra, and Einstein have in common? They all browse automatically in multiverses. You can, too, and make it harder to be tracked.

How the discovery started

It all started reading @ben 's article in DEV.to.

Firefox is indeed a great browser, I said in the comment section. And mentioned my favorite add-on.

Tree Style Tabs, my favorite add-on

I mentioned how I can't live without my favorite add-on Tree Style Tabs.

This add-on allows me to comfortably see all of my open tabs in a vertical column to the left of the browser rather than on an unreadable list on the top of the browser:

Tree style tabs, my favorite add-on.

Tree style tabs, my favorite add-on.

As you can see in the image, new tabs open in a tree-style fashion. This conveniently puts some order in an otherwise hectic sea of tabs. It also adds readability and makes it easier to find a tab-needle in the haystack.

If you need horizontal space back, the sidebar can be conveniently closed/opened using a keyboard shortcut, like a boss.

If you want, you can expand the sidebar width and read the whole title of the tab. Something impossible in the default crunched upper row of tabs.

Intro: Container tabs

So what are container tabs?

Firefox’s Containers are like profiles, allowing you to segregate browsing activity within different profiles on your computer. This allows for some helpful features, like logging in to different accounts on the same website simultaneously. If used properly, it can also protect the user’s privacy.

Before the advent of containers, opening different sessions (think usernames/passwords) of the same domain could only be achieved opening different browsers.

Using containers, you can open in separate containers different sessions in the same browser. Each session does not know about the other ones.

That is, I can be logged in with different users in the same domain in the same browser! This is pretty handy.

As another example, for a developer workflow, this means you can be logged in a website as different users in the same browser window at the same time.

Come Multi-account containers

In the comments' back-n-forth, @citizen428 mentioned a very useful add-on: Multi-Account Containers!

This add-on automatically opens domains you choose in separate containers.

So, for example, you can automatically always open all of *.google.com's universe in a separate container. Google's cookies, sessions, etc, will be kept separate from any other domain you open (as if you were using a separate browser).

Last ingredient: disposable, temporary containers for every domain

All other domains that you don't configure to always open in a particular container will open in the same container as the parent tab.

However, there is a nifty add-on that I'm testing. It is called Temporary Containers.

This one is not yet "recommended by Mozilla", but it is very promising and Mozilla should definitely have a closer look at it. And, if you're still reading, probably you should too.

With Temporary Containers, all tabs that are not configured to open in a specified container (yes, it is compatible with Multi-Account Containers!). From their wiki:

Automatically reopen Tabs in new Temporary Containers when

  • Opening a new Tab
  • A Tab tries to load a Link in the Default Container
  • An external Program opens a Link in the Browser

In combination with Multi-Account Containers

  • Reopens Confirm Page if in Default Container so you can choose between Temporary Container and Permanent Container

To achieve this, all you have to do is to configure the add-on to open new domains in temporary containers.

Open separate domains in new temporary containers

Open separate domains in new temporary containers

No overhead: temporary containers are automatically deleted

Automatic deletion of temporary containers

Automatic deletion of temporary containers.

Concerned about the overhead that too many containers may have? Worry not!

There is a reason why the extension is called "temporary" containers. These temporary containers are deleted by default 15m after the last tab in the temporary container is closed. But the timeout can be manually changed.


Conclusion

These 3 Firefox add-ons have really improved my workflow while browsing.

  1. Open a sea of tabs opened vertically in a tree-style fashion, instead of being in an upper, basically unreadable row as mostly every browser's default: Tree Style Tabs
  2. Open particular domains in separate containers: Multi-Account Containers
  3. Open all other domains in temporary, disposable, containers: Temporary Containers

I'm open and interested in hearing your opinion about this. How is your workflow different? Do you have recommendations?

Discussion (6)

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lumpenstein profile image
Lumpenstein

Before the advent of containers, opening different sessions (think usernames/passwords) of the same domain could only be achieved opening different browsers.

I have to disagree, private mode was able of that (and keeping your cookies, etc sandboxed) too.

BTW: The treetabs extension looks really nice, will give it a try :)

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michrodz profile image
Mich Rodz Author • Edited on

Yes. Private mode is basically another browser. You can't have a private tab among your other non-private tabs. You need to have an private/incognito window.

Also, multiple tabs in the same incognito windows share session/cookies/etc...

Container Tabs allow you to have in the same browser multiple session-independent tabs.

Tree-Tabs is a life change, @lumpenstein !

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sujaykundu777 profile image
Sujay Kundu

I am usually more of a Google Chrome user (coz of it's devtools). Preferred Firefox before.., and what I do is, I use Vimium extension to take more control to my browser using shortcuts. I am wondering, if there exists any tree style tabs for chrome yet. 🤷

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michrodz profile image
Mich Rodz Author

I haven't found a fully equivalent, or satisfying, tree-style-tab extension for Chrome.
Firefox Quantum - and also Firefox Developer edition - has come a long way. You should definitely test it. I think you won't go back to Chrome.

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maxdevjs profile image
maxdevjs

Thank you for this article. Going to check Temporary Containers.

Some times Multi-Account Containers "misbehaves" and stops to open links in specified container, until I restart Firefox. Did you experience the same behaviour?

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michrodz profile image
Mich Rodz Author

Not yet have I experienced any issues. Do you have all in latest version? You could probably open a bug/issue with the developers.