Research season: the productive student becomes a tab maniac during this time of year. Just in time for midterm papers, I’ll share some methods for saving tabs in Firefox so that you can come back to your research later. You and your computer can take a rest.



Personally, this is my favorite method, just because of how resourceful it is. You can do this right now, using Firefox’s built-in capabilities: no need to install a plug-in (which means you can do this on a computer other than your own). The idea is simple. Force Quit (Command Option Escape) Firefox. This will “force” your tabs into Firefox’s Auto-Recover. When you open the browser again a window will pop-up, asking if you’d like to restore your last websites – think of this as a “reminder” that you’ve got to get back to your research. Agree to the restore, and you’ll have the last session’s info. If you chose to decline and procrastinate, you’ll loose your work.


I won’t completely endorse this method, because of the ramifications of a Force Quit. Kelly Sutton got all up in my face about “memory leaks” and other disasters of the Force Quit, but I think Firefox is robust enough to handle such an action every once in a while. And if you’re using the school’s computer lab, who cares?


Built-in Power

Hidden within the depths of Firefox, there is indeed a way of easily saving your last session – but you have to know where to find it. Open Options/Preferences and in the “Main” tab, under the “Start-Up” heading, select “Show my windows and tabs from last time” under the pulldown menu at “When FireFox starts:.”


The obvious disadvantage here: I don’t always want my tabs/windows from the last session. I only want them when I’m in the midst of an intense research spell. Most of the time, I want Firefox to greet me with my homepage. Also, having this option enabled would likely lead to a procrastination collage of several windows and tabs from multiple projects. Better to just start from scratch each time you open your browser.


The Incubate

The obvious method of saving your work is bookmarking. Bookmarks>Bookmark All Tabs… (or Shift Command D) will put all of your current tabs into a handy folder. The problem is, you’ll pretty much never find these tabs again. Bookmarks are like banishment for links. How often do you honestly weed through your Bookmarks? That’s why I call it “The Incubate” – do this if you plan on coming back to this later – way later. The other methods will keep your last tab situation at the forefront so that next time you’re in FireFox, you have no choice but to face the grindstone.



The Extensions

There are several Add-ons that provide options for saving tabs (even if the extension has nothing to do with tabs). The three I’ve encountered that specialize in tab-saving are Tab Mix Plus, Tab Saver! and Session Manager



Tab Mix Plus is a complicated program with a cornucopia of options for tab management: copying tabs, customizing the look of tabs, emergency recovery of tabs, etc.. Many people use it, but not me.

I used to have Tab Saver! installed and I appreciate it for its simplicity. Tap Control Shift T or select “Restore Tabs” under Tools and the last saved set of tabs comes up, but its minimalism also leads to a little confusion sometimes. It stays out of the way and uses a minimal amount of ram.

Now, I use Session Manager. I have it setup so that each time I close Firefox, it asks if I’d like to save the session (instead of Firefox’s usual spiel about having multiple tabs open). If I say yes, then the next time I open Firefox, it will ask me if I’d like to restore the older session. As long as I haven’t saved any sessions lately, the program never bothers me. It has many more features, but this is all I use, and it’s worth it.

I gotta give props to Sam McQueen for tipping me off on the impromptu method. It’s a primo hack and so is he.