Firefox's New Tab Page Not Showing Websites or Thumbnails? Fix Inside

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 22, 2012
Updated • Jan 29, 2015

I have played around with Firefox's new tab page in the past days and you may have already come into contact with as well.

Mozilla added the new tab page back in January to nightly builds of the browser, from where it was passed to aurora and beta builds before it was added to the stable Firefox 13 release back in the beginning of June.

The page itself is basically a Speed Dial page that displays nine frequently used websites on the otherwise blank screen. Firefox users have options to remove websites from the list and replace them with sites from their bookmarks for instance, to turn the page into one-click options to access these websites.

There are two major issues with the new tab page that users may experience. They may notice that no websites are added to the new tab page, regardless of what they do. The feature is linked to the browser's history, and most users who do not see websites added to the new tab page have either turned the history feature off, have configured Firefox to delete the history when the browser closes, or are using a tool like CCleaner to remove the information from the browser regularly.

Users need to make sure that the remember my browsing and download history box is checked in the browser. If it is not, Firefox won't record any websites and can't therefore use the information to populate the new tab page with popular sites.

You furthermore need to make sure that the history is not cleared when Firefox is closed, and that tools like CCleaner are also not deleting it. If the clear history when Firefox closes box is checked, you need to open the Settings there to make sure that the browsing history is not checked in the menu.

clearing history

No Thumbnails

Once you have made the necessary changes you may notice that the new tab page gets populated with websites that you have visited. What may happen however is that you do not see thumbnails on the page, only page titles.

no thumbnails

Firefox may not be able to create a thumbnail screenshot of some web pages, which may be the reason why you can't see thumbnails for some sites on the new tab page. If you see thumbnails for others, the feature is working properly and Firefox, for whatever reason, can't create thumbnails for those sites.

If you see no thumbnails at all, the reason is likely linked to the clearing of the Firefox cache. Firefox uses the cache for the thumbnails, and if you clear the cache from within Firefox, for instance on exit, or with the help of a disk cleaner, you end up without thumbnails on the page.

Make sure that the cache entry is not checked under Settings for Clearing History (the menu you see above), and that third party tools do not delete the cache as well.

You may still see missing thumbnails, and you may want to try and load the page again to give the Internet browser another shot at creating a thumbnail for that site. Or, you may simple prefer to replace it with a site that is rendered correctly.

Firefox's New Tab Page Not Showing Websites or Thumbnails? Fix Inside
Article Name
Firefox's New Tab Page Not Showing Websites or Thumbnails? Fix Inside
If Firefox is not populating its New Tab Page at all or not displaying thumbnails for websites, you may find this guide useful that helps you figure out what is wrong.

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. GHEW said on January 13, 2013 at 12:02 am

    When I click on the +tab, the thumbnails come up ever so briefly (like for a split second) then disappear; a search box then appears. How do I make the thumbnails stay on the page?

  2. Stranger said on November 26, 2012 at 12:24 am

    I think this issue is related to this one.
    tldr; Mozilla corrected a bug that would display HTTPs pages with security informations by disabling this feature for HTTPs pages.

  3. Lucky Blogger said on November 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Thk you! Sometimes I hate when my thumbnail doesn’t appear in start page

  4. Captain Obvious said on July 15, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Make sure that “Show tab previews in the Windows taskbar” is checked in “Options -> Tabs”.

    You may have to reload/refresh the website before the thumbnails are cached and show up in the “new tab 9 thumbnail list”.

    This assumes that you have the “New Tab” setting set to display thumbnails already. If not, then please refer the this article to do so:

  5. Laugh said on July 4, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Thanks, very helpful article!

  6. jimmy smithson said on June 30, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Lame instructions. People will get lost and frustrated.

  7. Richard Steven Hack said on June 24, 2012 at 3:42 am

    I’m turning off BOTH the Bookmark Toolbar AND the New Tab page until Mozilla gets its act together…

  8. Richard Steven Hack said on June 24, 2012 at 3:40 am

    And finally, I see that if you increase the number of rows and columns, all the new Speed Dial locations are preloaded with stuff that I’m unlikely to ever visit again since the sites were specific to some download or some page I’ve already read!

    Why not let those locations be BLANK until they’re ASSIGNED? As it stands, they’re a massive distraction!

    God, no one at Mozilla can make an intelligent decision… It’s just pure randomness…

  9. Richard Steven Hack said on June 24, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Oh, and if you’re using the Bookmarks Toolbar, WHY would you need Speed DIal? Your links are already there! Of course you can get more links on the Speed Dial page IF you use that extension you referred to above. But if you don’t use that extension, you can tons of bookmarks already on the bar?

    So what is the advantage of the Speed Dial? Just the thumbnails?

    OTOH, if you use the Speed Dial, you can eliminate the Bookmark Toolbar and get more screen space.

    So I suppose the best approach is put all your most used bookmarks on the bar, drag and drop them to the Speed Dial, then turn off the Bookmark bar… And use the extension to get more space on the Speed Dial…

    A lot of work for little improvement over simply using the bloody Bookmark menu in the first place…or the even simpler means of just typing the first couple letters of the site in the address bar and clicking on the dropdown…which is what I usually do to get to my most used sites…

  10. Richard Steven Hack said on June 24, 2012 at 3:28 am

    Oh, I see, you have to drag and drop from the Bookmarks BAR, not the menu…

    Unfortunately, I don’t USE the Bookmarks Bar and right now there is nothing on it except “Latest Headline”, “Most Visited” (which right now shows nothing but Google Reader), openSUSE’s menu and “Getting Started”. Pretty useless…

    Why isn”t there simply an “Add to Speed Dial” function on the Bookmark menu? Is this rocket science, Mozilla?

    Really, software developers should NEVER be allowed to DESIGN USER INTERFACES! They are utterly incapable of doing so!

  11. Richard Steven Hack said on June 24, 2012 at 3:25 am

    Out of nine items on my page, only two have thumbnails – and both of those are Google Reader. In fact, I just noticed there is a THIRD Google reader entry – with no thumbnail…

    Also, I can’t seem to drag and drop from the Bookmark menu to the thumbnail location on openSUSE Linux 12.1…

    Ctrl-Shift-B also does not work in the Linux edition…

    This is idiotic! Mozilla has no SIMPLE way to cut and paste a URL into the position? Really?

    Clearly Mozilla has a ways to go to do this right… As it stands, this is almost unusable… I’ve spent now nearly twenty minutes trying to figure out how to get this “feature” to work…

    At this point, Firefox is becoming an unmanageable browser. I finally found a solution to the issue of Firefox not remembering the previous directory for file saves. Apparently Firefox some time around version 7 decided to remember the previous directory associated with the WEB SITE the file is served from. This is completely STUPID because you can easily download pages or images from the same Web site and want them in completely different folders. It’s another example of Mozilla trying to constrict the BEHAVIOR of their browser to THEIR notions rather than the end user’s ACTUAL behavior.

    Worse, I had to go through a number of pages of Firefox help – once I stumbled on the thread dealing with this issue – to find an obscure reference to a setting – which is not provided by default – in the prefs.js file that allows one to turn this idiotic behavior off.

    Mozilla – get your heads out of your butts and stop adding and shuffling features will-nilly without telling the users HOW to use them and without providing the ability to TURN THEM OFF!

    Arrogance from software developers is not an endearing trait!

  12. Selji Okita said on June 23, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I dont use this feature of firefox, I dont care about it, chrome make it better! Why all addon make user’s experience is not good as chrome :(

    1. wipemyass said on August 31, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      And your comment is relevant to this article how?

  13. Meeeeeee said on June 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Mine isn’t giving me a thumbnail for facebook. Seriously, firefox can’t produce a thumbnail for probably the most popular sites on the internet?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      Maybe because it is https? Those sites are usually not cached.

  14. Mushaf said on June 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Normally I have 9 (3×3) sites on my new tab page. How did you get 25 (5×5) sites there?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm
      1. Mushaf said on June 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm

        Thanks. Somehow missed that article.

  15. Bart Degryse said on June 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    So basically this new feature sucks.
    On a quick dial I expect to be able to set the 9 sites I would like, not having Firefox choosing them for me (although that could be ok for as long as I haven’t set them).

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      You can set your own from your bookmarks.

      1. Bart Degryse said on June 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm

        Yes I can. But each time I close FF the thumbnails are gone again. My setting are the same as the screenshot above. And my CCleaner does not clear my history.

      2. David said on June 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

        How about an article explaining using bookmarks on the new tab page.

      3. Martin Brinkmann said on June 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm

        You basically just drag and drop them onto a location there. It works best when you open the Bookmarks Library Ctrl-Shift-B, open the new tab page with Ctrl-T, and then drag and drop bookmarks from the library onto the spot on the new tab page.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.