Firefox Nightly on Android now lets you disable the Inactive Tabs tray

Oct 1, 2021
Mobile Computing

As you accumulate new tabs every day, you may forget to close the old ones, that's pretty much normal with any browser. This can result in a cluttered mess, and even hog down the performance of the browser.

Firefox Nightly on Android

About two months ago, Mozilla rolled out an update for Firefox Nightly on Android, and introduced a feature called Inactive Tabs. It  was meant to help users, by automatically marking tabs as inactive.

Mozilla's intention was good, the execution, not so much. Let me explain, this is the tab switcher screen in the stable channel of Firefox.

Firefox on Android - Tab Switcher

And here's what the Inactive Tabs panel looked like about 2 months ago. I took the screenshot in August, in the week that the update was released, but have been using Firefox Nightly as my primary browser.

Firefox Nightly on Android - Inactive Tabs tray

Firefox Nightly displays a list of the inactive tabs as a long list. The currently opened tabs are displayed at the top of the inactive list. The tab switcher always starts at the bottom of the list, meaning you have to scroll all the way up to reach the active tabs, every single time. This was annoying, but the worst part was that there was no option to disable the "feature", i.e., until today, and several users voiced their concern.

There was another unwanted change that this release brought with it. Users also complained that it interfered with the tab removal setting and discarded tabs that hadn't been active for a month. This option had been enabled by default, which meant many users lost their old tabs when they updated to that version of Firefox Nightly. As expected, there was some backlash from irate users, after which Mozilla added an option to disable the behavior, allowing users to discard tabs manually. If you prefer to have tabs closed automatically, you may set it to close tabs after a day, a week, or a month.

It's hard enough for Mozilla to compete in a world dominated by Chrome, and Chromium browsers. Changes like these are only going to come in the way of the current user base and drive them away.

The good news is that today the developers released a new update for Firefox Nightly on Android, that lets us disable the Inactive Tabs panel completely (related issue on GitHub). It's about time. The change isn't automatic though, so you'll need to edit a setting manually to get the good-old tab switcher view back.

How to disable Inactive Tabs in Firefox Nightly

1. Open the tab switcher, by tapping the number button in the bottom right corner of the screen.

2. Tap the three-dot menu button in the top right, to view the tab management menu.

3. Select Tab Settings.

4. Toggle the option under Inactive Tabs, to disable the tray.

Firefox Nightly on Android now lets you disable the Inactive Tabs tray

Note: The new option is available in Firefox Nightly 94.0a1 (Build #2015837163).

Firefox Nightly Tab Unloading Experiment

Mozilla is also working on a "tab unloader experiment", which seems similar to the sleeping tabs feature in Edge (Tab Freeze), which will discard inactive tabs from the memory.

What do you think about the Inactive Tabs tray?  Do you like it, or will you disable it?

Firefox Nightly on Android now lets you disable the Inactive Tabs tray
Article Name
Firefox Nightly on Android now lets you disable the Inactive Tabs tray
Here's how to disable the Inactive Tabs in Firefox Nightly for Android.
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  1. Rush said on August 28, 2023 at 9:50 pm

    If Nothing OS is nothing more that an overlay with Google still in the midst….then I ain’t interested.

    1. Seeprime said on September 12, 2023 at 4:12 pm

      Another unrelated comment older than the article. Pathetic.

      1. Robenroute said on September 13, 2023 at 9:06 am

        it is becoming mindbogglingly annoying indeed…

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    “An iPhone 15 with a USB-C port will mean more than you think”

    That Apple can finally stop hindering progress if spanked hard enough ?

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