Find out which Firefox add-on uses the most memory

One of the things that I really like in regards to Google Chrome is the browser's task manager that reveals a variety of information about the browser's memory usage. Firefox's about:memory page may reveal similar information, but the way the information are displayed are not of real use to most users of Firefox due to the way they are displayed.

If you have installed a lot of add-ons for instance in Firefox, you can't really find out which add-on uses the most amount of memory, and which is as light as a feather in this regard. This is especially important if you are running dozens of add-ons and notice slowdowns or memory issues when you use the browser for an extended period of time.

About:addons-memory is a brand new Firefox add-on that reveals information about the memory usage of add-ons in Firefox to you. You can use the feature to audit all of your add-ons for instance, to find out which add-on uses the most memory and maybe look for an alternative or remove it completely from the browser. That is, unless it is an essential add-on that you can't do without.

To use the extension simply install it in Firefox and load the about:addons-memory page afterwards in Firefox. Here you see a list of all add-ons that you have installed in the browser as well as a listing for the browser itself.

firefox addons memory usage

Each add-on is listed with its name, developer, unique identifier, and memory usage. The extension furthermore lists the percentage of memory that a particular add-on uses in relation to all other add-ons.

The developer notes that add-ons may use more memory than shown here.

Many Add-ons, especially non-JetPack ones, may include static or dynamic overlays that may add scripts, DOM or styles directly to the browser. Such things cannot be distinguished from the browser itself and hence cannot be counted towards the add-on. As a result the actual add-on memory usage may be a lot higher than reported here!

A button to minimize memory usage is also available that you can click on to reduce the memory usage of the browser temporarily.

Verdict

About:addons-memory is a useful albeit limited extension that provides you with information about the memory usage of all add-ons you have installed in Firefox. It is nothing that I'd run all the time in the browser though, more something that I'd run to assess the memory usage of all extensions installed in Firefox and then uninstall it again once that has been done.

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Responses to Find out which Firefox add-on uses the most memory

  1. ilev March 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Build-in into Chrome (including open tabs) "view background pages" :-)

  2. hum March 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Is it more than just a graphical representation of about:memory?

    • blue_bsod March 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      It's can be less if your addons use scripts... read the fine print at the bottom: "Note: Many Add-ons, especially non-JetPack ones, may include static or dynamic overlays that may add scripts, DOM or styles directly to the browser. Such things cannot be distinguished from the browser itself and hence cannot be counted towards the add-on. As a result the actual add-on memory usage may be a lot higher than reported here!"

  3. solidstate March 8, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Is there some reason about:memory always opens up a completely blank page on my systems? I can't for the life of me figure out why.

    • blue_bsod March 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      Is it just about:memory, or are you blocked out of, 'about:config', as well? You may need to do, 'about:config' first and set the permission permanently before it will allow you access to any of the other, "about:" type pages. Under XP I can access any and all, "about:" pages, but under Windows 7, the about:memory page is also blank at first unless the permission on about:config wasn't set on first.

  4. Steven Ames March 9, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    Personally I gave up on Firefox a few years ago after so many memory issues. I'm a Chrome user now and don't think I'll be looking back any time soon.

    • Martin Brinkmann March 9, 2013 at 11:58 am #

      Firefox is using less memory than Chrome does.

      • blue_bsod March 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

        Isn't that dependant on how many addons we have in each? In Firefox I use about 30, but in Chrome I only could find 12 that I liked. Chrome seemed to load faster and it was easier to use to sync my Google stuff to my Android phone. Firefox has a lot more addons available, but Chrome has a few not available in Firefox, and the copies of the ones Firefox has ~ has more options and functionality. Chrome options are rather basic if any options at all other than on/off.

      • Martin Brinkmann March 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

        You can also compare the memory usage without add-ons. It is highly problematic to do with add-ons installed as they are often not created by the same developer and have different functionality.

  5. AC March 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    I've just been informed that Nils Maier, the author, is working right now on integrating its functionality into Firefox. See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=846019 for details.

  6. wfa May 16, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    "To use the extension simply install it in Firefox and load the about:addons-memory page afterwards in Firefox."
    I installed the addon now how do I load it?

    • Martin Brinkmann May 16, 2013 at 9:46 am #

      You type about:addons-memory into the address bar and hit enter.

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