How to Change Tab Options in Firefox

By Aaron Parson

Firefox provides six options for how the browser handles tabs. Here's where they are and what each one does.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with Internet access

As of Firefox 38, the options that deal with tabs reside on the General page in the Options screen, rather than in their own Tabs page as in older versions. Although tab settings no longer have a dedicated page, you'll still find all the same settings, including options to open new windows in tabs and to warn when closing multiple tabs.

Step 1

Click the menu icon and choose Options to open the options screen. You'll find the tab options at the bottom of the General page.


  • The old keyboard shortcut Alt-T-O still works to open the options.
  • Unlike older versions, Firefox 38 and above opens the options in a browser tab, so when you're finished making changes, just closethe tab to save your settings.

Step 2

Firefox tab options

Check Open New Windows in a New Tab Instead to force Firefox to use tabs, rather than additional windows, whenever a website link calls for opening a new window.


This option won't prevent you from opening new windows manually. Click New Window in the menu or press Ctrl-N to start a second window.

Step 3

Check Warn Me When Closing Multiple Tabs if you want to see a warning when you try to close Firefox while you have multiple tabs open. This option can save you from losing work in any tabs you forget you have open.

Step 4

Turn on Warn Me When Opening Multiple Tabs Might Slow Down Firefox to prompt you when you try to open more tabs than your computer can handle without slowing down.


During regular use, you'll probably never encounter this warning, but leaving it enabled can prevent a major slowdown if you accidentally click Open All in Tabs in your bookmarks. Without the warning turned on, trying to open hundreds or thousands of bookmarks at once can freeze the program for a while.

Step 5

Enable Don't Load Tabs Until Selected to prevent background tabs from loading before you switch to them. This option takes effect when you use multiple tabs for your home page or when you reopen the browser after a crash. If you'd rather have all your home page tabs load ahead of time, turn this option off.

Step 6

Check When I Open a Link in a New Tab, Switch to It Immediately to load new tabs in the foreground. With this option disabled, opening a new tab doesn't automatically display it.

Step 7

Taskbar tab previews

Turn on Show Tab Previews in the Windows Taskbar to show a thumbnail of every tab when you mouse over the Firefox button on the Windows taskbar. Click one to open it. With this option turned off, mousing over the button only shows a preview of the active tab.


Taskbar thumbnails only work in Windows 7 and above.