Firefox Temporary Containers extension - gHacks Tech News

Firefox Temporary Containers extension

Temporary Containers is a WebExtensions add-on for the Firefox web browser that you may use to open sites automatically or manually in containers that get removed when the last open tab of the container gets closed.

Containers is a relatively new feature of the Firefox web browser. Mozilla revealed the feature  -- then called Contextual Identities -- in late 2015 and added it to Firefox Nightly in mid-2016 under the new name Container Tab.

Mozilla launched a Test Pilot experiment in March 2017 to find out whether the feature garnered enough interest to warrant further development.

A container separates content in the web browser. The feature is not as powerful as using different browsing profiles, but it serves specific purposes and is easier to use. Containers keep cookies, local storage and cached files separate from other containers and non-container tabs. Users retain access to bookmarks, passwords or the browsing history, however.

You may use Containers for several purposes such as signing in to the same web service with multiple accounts or separating different tasks in containers to avoid ad retargeting for instance.

Temporary Containers

firefox temporary containers

Temporary Containers supports an automatic and a manual mode. Links and URLs are opened in containers automatically by default. A new temporary container is created when you open a new Tab Page in Firefox, activate links so that they open in new tabs or browser windows, or activate links from third-party programs.

The main idea of the extension is to open sites in containers to separate data from the rest of the browser. It works similarly to the Firefox add-on Private Tab in this regard which added functionality to Firefox to open new sites in a private browsing tab in the same browser window. Private Tab is not compatible with Firefox 57 or newer.

The temp container is removed when you close the last tab and with it go cookies, cache and other data.

The extension comes with a solid set of preferences that let you customize its behavior. You may disable automatic mode there, and also change the container color, prefix, icon, and number. Icon and color can be randomized as well.

You can disable the automatic nature of the extension to load sites in temporary containers only on manual action. You may set global mouse actions for that, middle-mouse and Ctrl-key (CMD on Mac) and left mouse button, or for specific websites.

Temporary Containers adds other means of opening tabs in containers to the browser. It adds the option to the right-click context menu of links, mapped the keyboard shortcut Alt-C to the functionality, and adds an icon to Firefox's toolbar which opens a new container tab when you click on it.

The extension is open source; you find the source code on GitHub.

Closing Words

Temporary Containers worked well during tests. It has several use cases, for example, to always load links on specific sites in a temporary container or for quickly reading articles without having the site set cookies or add files to the browser cache. It may not offer all functionality of Private Tabs, but if you are mostly concerned about cookies or local storage, it may be an option to deal with that.

Now You: Do you use Containers in Firefox?

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Comments

  1. Ray said on January 26, 2018 at 12:01 am
    Reply

    Container Tabs is Firefox’s killer feature since the debut of Quantum.

    Having the ability to separate cookie and local storage on a per-tab basis has eliminated many previous addons for me like Private Tab and Self-Destructing Cookies (or Cookie Auto-delete).

    As far as the tab history is concerned, I’ve always disabled URL and form history in Firefox, so that doesn’t concern me.

    The Temporary Containers addon automates the container tabs process so you don’t have to worry about manually triggering new containers. Just open a new tab and go!

    IndexedDB still persists though, but you can use another addon to remove this.

    1. Tony said on January 26, 2018 at 8:49 am
      Reply

      So true Ryan. How do you recommend handling IndexedDB?

    2. stoically said on January 30, 2018 at 5:59 pm
      Reply

      Glad you like the addon!

      According to the mozilla wiki indexedDB is separated with containers as well. See https://wiki.mozilla.org/Security/Contextual_Identity_Project/Containers#What_is_.28and_isn.27t.29_separated_between_Containers

      If you want to test it for yourself, you can do so e.g. on https://demo.agektmr.com/storage/

      1. Ray said on January 31, 2018 at 2:40 am
        Reply

        @stoically – I guess you’re right!

        I’ve seen some traces of items left by websites like YouTube and Twitter on the About > Preferences > Privacy and Security > Site Data section.

        Not sure what type of storage is being used by those sites.

        I’ll try and reproduce the issue if I can down the road.

        By the way, thanks for creating such a handy addon! Way better and open-source unlike the Containers On The Go addon.

    3. stoically said on January 30, 2018 at 6:12 pm
      Reply

      @Ray

      Glad you like the Add-on!

      According to the mozilla wiki indexedDB is separated with containers as well. See https://wiki.mozilla.org/Security/Contextual_Identity_Project/Containers#What_is_.28and_isn.27t.29_separated_between_Containers

      If you want to test it for yourself, you can do so e.g. on https://demo.agektmr.com/storage/

      @Martin Brinkmann

      Thanks for covering the Add-on!

      If you would want to have some sort of control over history there’s the Historia Add-on (https://addons.mozilla.org/addon/historia/) as someone pointed out in the related Issue https://github.com/stoically/firefox-add-on-temporary-containers/issues/17 – though it will only work domain-name based, not related to containers yet.

  2. Saad Shamsaee said on January 26, 2018 at 5:30 am
    Reply

    It is Nice.

  3. tijsco said on January 26, 2018 at 9:12 am
    Reply

    There is also the official Mozilla Container addon:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/multi-account-containers/

    Very handy!

  4. Ali Can YILDIZ said on January 26, 2018 at 9:22 am
    Reply

    I’ve been longing this feature since it’s revealed, it will be ease my workflow.

  5. stoically said on February 4, 2018 at 12:41 am
    Reply

    Temporary Containers now has an Advanced configuration to automatically delete History of Temporary Containers. It comes with a Warning since Firefox doesn’t support that feature fully yet. Make sure to read it carefully before using that feature.

  6. asd said on May 29, 2018 at 1:08 pm
    Reply

    This sounds amazing! like the Multi-Account Container add-on but without the pain of manual setup.

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