Firefox Container Tabs

Monday, April 2, 2018 @ 4:28 pm

What I’d consider to be Firefox’s killer feature is its Container Tabs: allowing you to “contain” websites, and associated cookies, into various containers.  It even colour-codes the tabs with a subtle bottom line to provide you the tab’s context.

Overview

Copy/pasted from the extension description:

The Firefox Multi-Account Containers extension lets you carve out a separate box for each of your online lives – no more opening a different browser just to check your work email! Here is a quick video showing you how it works.

Under the hood, it separates website storage into tab-specific Containers. Cookies downloaded by one Container are not available to other Containers. With the Firefox Multi-Account Containers extension, you can…

  • Sign in to two different accounts on the same site (for example, you could sign in to work email and home email in two different Container tabs.
  • Keep different kinds of browsing far away from each other (for example, you might use one Container tab for managing your Checking Account and a different Container tab for searching for new songs by your favorite band)
  • Avoid leaving social-network footprints all over the web (for example, you could use a Container tab for signing in to a social network, and use a different tab for visiting online news sites, keeping your social identity separate from tracking scripts on news sites)

The Extension

Install: Firefox Multi-Account Containers

How to Use

Getting Started

  1. Install the extension
  2. Click on the Multi-Account Containers icon in the browser toolbar
  3. Go through the short walkthrough
  4. You’ll be presented with the main interface (a list of default containers which you can edit or delete by clicking on “Edit Containers”)

Adding a Container

Best practice: create containers for sites which you log into and/or for “notorious” sites known to track users (e.g. Facebook and Google)

  1. Click on the Container icon in the toolbar
  2. Click on “+”
  3. Type in the container name, select a colour, and select an icon
  4. Click on OK

Using a Container

Let’s assume we created a “Google” container with the intention of preventing Google from tracking you across the web:

  1. Click on the Container icon in the toolbar
  2. Click on a container you’d like to open a tab for (e.g. “Google”)
    1. A new tab will open; note that it should have a bottom line in the colour you chose
  3. Browse to a site (e.g. www.google.com)
  4. Click on the Container icon in the toolbar
  5. Check “Always open in *container name*

Repeat the above steps for any other sites associated with the container (e.g. https://mail.google.com/).

If you attempt to access a site which has been added to a container, you may see the following screen:

You’d probably want to tick “Remember my decision for this site” and click on the suggested (blue) button (e.g. “Open in Google Container”).

Going one step further with Temporary Containers

Doing the above and setting up containers is a huge step forward in terms of enhancing your privacy on the web, but there is something we can do to further enhance it.

If you click on a link in a “container-ed” tab, it will open a new tab within the container. What if it’s a third-party site that we don’t accessing our container’s data?

  • Without Temporary Containers: clicking on a third-party link in a container will open it within that container
  • With Temporary Containers: clicking on a third-party link in a container will open it in a new, separate, and temporary container

Install: Temporary Containers

Configuring Temporary Containers

Below is how I configured Temporary Containers, feel free to customize the General Options to your liking:

  1. Go to the Firefox Add-ons interface (Firefox menu => Add-ons)
  2. Find “Temporary Containers” and click on the “Preferences” button

General Options

Isolation Options